About the Area
Essex County, New Jersey is a strikingly beautiful, exciting, and convenient place to live, with easy access to New York City, Newark Liberty Airport, beautiful beaches and mountain ski resorts. You can’t go wrong no matter what town you choose. It just depends on your taste. I work in nearly all of suburban Essex County and live in Montclair. Here is a summary of some of the communities.
Located just 12 miles west of Manhattan, Montclair, New Jersey is one of the most sought after communities in the nation. New York Magazine dubbed it “the upper west side of suburbia”. It can be described as the anchor town in suburban Essex County due to its diverse metropolitan feel, majestic beauty, easy commute with six train stations to Manhattan, top restaurants, our international Montclair Film Festival and other cultural events and amenities including the nationally renowned Montclair Art Museum, the world famous Presby Iris Gardens, Van Vleck House and Gardens, Hackensack UMC Mountainside Medical Center, Yogi Berra Museum and Baseball stadium with its own minor league team, the Jackals, Montclair State University, which offers 300 majors within 6 schools, Kip’s Castle, the Wellmont Theater featuring national music acts, two public libraries, public swimming pools, tennis courts and two YMCA’s.
It has more than a dozen gorgeous parks as well as protected land at Mills and Eagle Rock Reservations which have views of Manhattan and are ideal for bird-watching and hiking. Montclair also offers one of the best and most recognized magnet school systems in the country. Montclair High School is known to send a very significant percentage of its seniors to Ivy League, “Little Ivy”, and highly competitive colleges and universities. A particular point of pride is that it has even produced one of only 32 Americans to be named a Rhodes Scholar.
Glen Ridge is one of Essex County’s smaller yet extremely charming communities which features some of the last remaining gas street lamps in the nation. With a population of 8,000, it offers one of the highest academically ranked school districts in the state with two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. Beautiful historic housing stock is a hallmark of Glen Ridge. The business district is centered on and around Bloomfield Ave and includes the historic train station with midtown direct service to Manhattan, a post office, the Glen Ridge Women’s Club, shops, and Fitzgerald’s, the town’s most popular restaurant and bar. There is a public pool, the historic Freeman Rose Gardens, as well as Glen Ridge Country Club with 18 hole golf course. Hackensack UMC Mountainside Hospital is partially located in Glen Ridge and partially in Montclair.
With fewer than 800 homes and a little over 2,000 residents, Essex Fells is our smallest town and nearly 100% residential. It’s a hamlet that covers a radius of 1.5 miles. Its main characteristics are rolling hills, graceful and winding tree-canopied streets, large lots and a tight-knit sensibility. The Essex Fells Elementary School is one of only half a dozen Blue Ribbon Schools in N.J. In middle school and high school, students attend the regional West Essex School District. In the winter, everyone hangs out at “the pond” for ice skating and hockey; and you can even have a pizza delivered there. The Memorial Day Picnic on the Green is a town-wide BBQ event. The other locale for picnics, sports and hiking is the 40+ acre Grover Cleveland Park. Essex Fells Country Club has a beautiful golf course. There are no trains or buses running through Essex Fells but the NYC bus can be accessed on nearby Bloomfield Ave and NYC trains can be accessed in neighboring Montclair or, the park and ride in Harrison.
Verona is a community of about 14,000 and has charming, uniquely named neighborhoods such as Afterglow, Wayland, and Oakridge. There is a price point for everyone with a varied stock of condos, townhouses, smaller homes and stately luxury residential properties. The town is bisected by the Bloomfield Ave business district with great restaurants and shops; and the magnificent Verona Park with a beautiful lake for motor-less boating and fishing derbies, jogging and bike paths, summer concerts and arts and crafts fairs. Historic Kip’s Castle straddles the Verona/Montclair border. The Verona Community Center is hugely popular. There are four elementary schools, one middle school and the very highly regarded Verona High School.
Comprised of Caldwell, West Caldwell and North Caldwell, these towns are collectively known as The Caldwell’s. Their combined population is about 20,000. Each is governed separately but there are some overlapping school districts. North Caldwell is nearly entirely residential while most of Caldwell and West Caldwell’s shops and restaurants are on Bloomfield and Passaic Avenues. There are some really great secluded neighborhoods within walking distance to commerce. Recreation is a big part of the Caldwell’s. The West Caldwell Civic Center (and Parks and Recreation Dept), with over 80 programs, is one of the most comprehensive in New Jersey. The Caldwell Community Center services children, adults and seniors and is top-notch. The North Caldwell Community Pool is so popular that many residents prefer it to private country club membership. Caldwell and West Caldwell share a school district, and attend James Caldwell High School. North Caldwell has its own elementary school but in 7th grade, students move into the West Essex Regional School District. Commuting to NYC is by bus or driving to neighboring communities for trains.
West Orange is among our largest communities with a population of about 50,000. It also has great neighborhood names like St. Cloud, Gregory, Redwood, Lourdes and the gated community of Llewellyn Park. Almost 20% of West Orange is open space devoted to magnificent parks and nature preserves such as Eagle Rock Reservation. But people also come form all over the state and beyond to visit the famous Turtle Back Zoo, Richard Codey Ice Arena, the Paper Mill Playhouse, the Oskar Schindler Performing Arts Center, the historic home of Thomas Edison and Museum, the Francis Byrne Public Golf Course, the exclusive Montclair Golf Club, Essex Equestrian Center with Olympic sized riding ring, the internationally renowned Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, and one of the top hospitals in the state - St. Barnabas Medical Center - located partially in Livingston. There are eleven public schools including seven elementary schools. There are many buses to NYC and multiple access to Route 280 for drivers.
While smaller in geographic size than West Orange, Bloomfield also has a population of about 50,000. It is a great mix of urban development and leafy residential neighborhoods. It is one of the best commuter suburbs in Essex County with two NYC midtown direct train stations and a short bus ride to the Port Authority. In 2009, Bloomfield received the Smart Growth Award for its town center redevelopment plan. Bloomfield is a vibrant town where residents get involved. There is an Art League, a Music Federation, outdoor concerts and a booming Parks and Recreation Dept with a motto of “Not Just Sports” with a network of programs in addition to its terrific athletics. It boasts two of the best parks in all of New Jersey; Brookdale Park (which straddles the Montclair border) and Watsessing Park. It has award-winning elementary schools and is the home of the highly regarded Bloomfield College, once named by Forbes Magazine as the third best private college in the state.