West Orange

New Jersey Communities

West Orange2018-09-12T18:14:09+00:00

Project Description

Montclair New Jersey

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West Orange is a suburban township in central Essex County, New Jersey. West Orange is located at the peak of the Watchung Mountains. This vantage point over the valleys East to Manhattan – had a strategic value for Leni Lenape warriors, and later George Washington’s troops during the American Revolution. The wooded South Mountain Reservation has rocks shaped like the backs of large Turtles. The area is now known as “Turtle Back Rock Picnic Area” and gives its name to the Turtle Back Zoo. 

The Turtle Back Rocks were considered sacred to the Native Americans, as related to their Creation myth of “Turtle Island”. “Turtle Island” is the Native American name for North America. In the creation myth, the world was created from a turtle’s back.

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Living in West Orange

According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 12.171 square miles (31.522 km2), including 12.046 square miles (31.198 km2) of land and 0.125 square miles (0.324 km2) of water (1.03%). It is located approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) west of downtown Newark and 13 miles (21 km) west of New York City.

The West Branch of the Rahway River originates at Crystal Lake and passes through the township in South Mountain Reservation.

West Orange borders the Essex County communities of Essex Fells, Livingston, Millburn, Maplewood, Montclair, Orange, Roseland, Veronaand South Orange.

Essex Green Shopping Center is an outdoor mall with stores, restaurants and an AMC Theatres Fork and Screen dine-in movie theater. The 350,000-square-foot (33,000 m2) mall, the largest of its type in Essex County, was purchased in 2016 by Clarion Partners.

The Jersey Rockhoppers hockey team of the Eastern Professional Hockey League, formed for the 2008-09 season, played home games at the Richard J. Codey Arena. The arena also used to be the practice facility for the New Jersey Devils from 1986-2007. The New Jersey Daredevils, a special needs hockey team formed in 2002 that plays in the SHI (Special Hockey International League), uses the arena for home games and practices. Annually in October, the Daredevils host a Halloween themed tournament for Special Hockey International teams (including the Daredevils themselves) called Frankenfest. Frankenfest has been going on every October since 2009. The New Jersey Devils Youth Hockey team also plays here as well.

The township is set off by two large parks: the South Mountain Reservation along its southwestern borders with Maplewood, Millburn and South Orange, and the Eagle Rock Reservation along its northeastern borders with Montclair and Verona. The township straddles the transition between the low-lying Newark Bay basin and the high terrain of the Watchung Mountains.

Fishing and kayaking is available on the Rahway River.

Roads and Highways

As of May 2010, the township had a total of 114.54 miles (184.33 km) of roadways, of which 89.63 miles (144.25 km) were maintained by the municipality, 19.45 miles (31.30 km) by Essex County and 5.46 miles (8.79 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

The Essex Freeway (Interstate 280) is the main limited access road that passes through from east to west. Route 10 passes through in the western area and has its western terminus at CR 577 (which runs north-south through the township). CR 508 also traverse the municipality from east to west.

Public Transportation

NJ Transit offers bus service in the township to Newark on the 21, 29, 71, 73 and 79 routes, with local service on the 97 route. In September 2012, as part of budget cuts, NJ Transit suspended service to Newark on the 75 line.

DeCamp Bus Lines offers scheduled service between the township and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan on the 66 route. Coach USA / Community Coachserves the Port Authority Bus Terminal on route 77. OurBus operates a commuter route to New York City serving Livingston and West Orange.

The township offers a jitney service that operates on weekdays, offering service to the Orange and South Orange train stations.

Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Crestmont, Crystal Lake, Llewellyn Park, Pleasantdale and Saint Cloud.

The township is marked by an eclectic mix of neighborhoods and housing types, which roughly correspond to the township’s geographic features. Generally, the township has four distinct neighborhoods:

Downtown West Orange and The Valley

The oldest and most densely populated part of the township is Downtown West Orange, which lies in the low basin along the township’s eastern border with the city of Orange and Montclair. Main Street, in this section, is home to the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, as well as the municipal building, police headquarters, and a branch post office. The West Orange Public Library is located on Mount Pleasant Avenue in this section, just west of Main Street. Downtown West Orange is laid out in the pattern of a traditional town, and is formed around the western termini of two major east-west arteries of the Newark street grid: Central Avenue and Park Avenue. Downtown West Orange has the most urban character of the township’s neighborhoods, while the Valley is home to a growing arts district, the West Orange Arts Center, Luna Stage and a significant African American community.

The First Mountain

West of Downtown, the neighborhoods of West Orange become increasingly suburban as one ascends the steep hill of the First Watchung Mountain along Northfield, Mount Pleasant, or Eagle Rock Avenue. The housing stock in the neighborhoods of Hutton Park and Gregory is a mixture of Victorian, Jazz Age, and Tudor-style houses; large estates; garden apartments; and post-World War II modern houses. The Victorian enclave of Llewellyn Park, one of America’s first planned residential communities, is also located on the First Mountain, having been created in 1853 as a site for country homes for the wealthy from New York City. Many blocks on the First Mountain have sweeping views of the Newark and New York City skylines.

Pleasant Valley and Pleasantdale

Beyond the high ridge traced by Prospect Avenue, West Orange becomes a patchwork of post-World War II suburban neighborhoods, interspersed with pockets of older Victorian homes, as well as golf courses, professional campuses, and shopping centers. Pleasantdale, a walkable business district in this part of the township, includes a number of restaurants, office buildings, and houses of worship. Pleasantdale is also home to a significant Orthodox Jewish community.

The Second Mountain

Finally, the westernmost section of West Orange lies along the eastern face of the Second Watchung Mountain, and includes large portions of the South Mountain Reservation. The housing stock in this neighborhood resembles that of Pleasantdale, as well as those of the adjacent suburban townships of Millburn and Livingston.

The West Orange Public Schools serves students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2011-12 school year, the district’s 11 schools had an enrollment of 6,792 students and 573.6 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 11.84:1. Schools in the district (with 2011-12 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) seven elementary schools — Gregory Elementary School (590 students; in grades K-5), Hazel Avenue Elementary School (368; K-5), Kelly Elementary School (424; PreK-5), Mount Pleasant Elementary School (416; K-5), Redwood Elementary School (576; K-5), St. Cloud Elementary School (386; K-5) and Washington Elementary School (403; K-5) — three middle schools — Thomas A. Edison Central Six School (6; 475), Liberty Middle School (7&8; 551) and Roosevelt Middle School (7&8; 464) — and West Orange High School (2,141) for grades 9-12.

Pleasantdale School was renamed Kelly School in May 2016 in honor of Mark and Scott Kelly, identical twins who attended the school starting in second grade before becoming NASA astronauts.

For many decades West Orange has been a hotbed for the mass-media and telecommunication industries. Thomas Edison’s Black Maria, the first movie studio ever, was located on Main Street and Lakeside Avenue. Several radio and television broadcast antennas are located in the town. From the late 1960s/early-1970s until the early 1990s UHF Channel 68 TV maintained their offices, studios and transmitter at 416 Eagle Rock Avenue. After Channel 68 moved to West Market Street in Newark and their transmitter to the Empire State Building in Manhattan, NBC owned and operated stations WNBC-TV Channel 4 and WPXN-TV Channel 31 (NBC later sold its interest in WPXN’s parent Paxson Communications) moved into the Eagle Rock Avenue complex operating backup transmitter facilities in case of a catastrophic event such as the destruction of their main transmitters at the World Trade Center which occurred on September 11, 2001. The original Channel 68 building was later demolished and a new building was erected in its place. Two religious radio stations and one independent television station all owned by Family Stations, Inc. WFME (AM) on 1560 kHz and licensed to New York City, WFME-FM on 106.3mHz and licensed to Mount Kisco, New York and ethnic television station WNYJ-TV Channel 66 licensed to West Milford, New Jersey maintains their studios and offices on Mount Pleasant Avenue. WFME’s former 94.7mHz frequency which was acquired by Cumulus Media in 2012 and renamed WNSH along with the former Upsala College radio station WFMU (now owned by Auricle Communications) have their transmitter towers on Marcella Avenue, WNSH’s next to WFME/WNYJ and WFMU’s in a fenced shack.

Verizon Communications, going as far back as the mid to late 1950s and early 1960s when it was New Jersey Bell, operated an analog central office and later fiber optics facilities on Prospect Avenue near the Essex Green Shopping Center and a fiber optics and satellite transmitter facility which was originally owned and operated by MCI Inc. until it was acquired by Verizon in 2006. Additionally Sprint Corporation, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless all own or lease cell phone towers throughout the town.

Content Courtesy of Wikipedia.org

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