South Orange Real Estate Listings and Information

South Orange

South Orange is a suburban municipality in the New York Metropolitan Area located in Essex County, New Jersey.  As of the 2000 United States Census, the village's population was 16,964, and a total area of 2.9 square miles. 0.1 of it is covered by water.

South Orange is primarily residential in character, providing a variety of quality of housing that ranges from modest colonials to magnificent Tudors and elegant Victorian mansions.  The thriving downtown commercial area encompasses unique shops, boutiques, and service establishments in addition to popular restaurants and lively pubs. 

Bordering on the heavily wooded South Mountain Reservation, this naturally panoramic area encompasses more than 60 acres of lush parkland that complement the well-developed municipal and private facilities.  Offering quick access to the Garden State Parkway and Interstate 78, the community is ideal for commuters.

Neighboring communities (with which South Orange shares a border) include Maplewood, Newark, West Orange, Orange, and East Orange.  Of the 566 municipalities in New Jersey, South Orange Village is one of only four with a village type of government.

South Orange Village dates back to 1869, when it was formed within South Orange Township (now Maplewood).  In 1904, the Village of South Orange was created by an act of the New Jersey Legislature and separated from South Orange Township.  In 1981, the name was changed to "South Orange Village Township" to take advantage of federal revenue sharing policies.

The East branch of the Rahway River flows through the entire length of the township. Most of the year it is a trickle but can be heavy at times.  In the past it would occasionally overflow its banks and flood low-lying parts of town.  United States Army Corps of Engineers flood control projects remediated that in the mid 1970s.

The western part of the town sits on the eastern slope of South Mountain (elevation - 660 feet), leveling into a small valley near the central business district.  At the top of the slope, the western edge of the town runs along the eastern border of South Mountain Reservation.  The Montrose neighborhood with its large Victorian houses is in the northeast quadrant.  Seton Hall University is located in the southeast quadrant near the border of Newark.

Architecture is varied, most of the town is single-family wood framed houses, but there are a few apartment buildings from various eras as well as townhouse-style condominiums of mostly more recent vintage.  Houses cover a range that includes every common style of the Mid-Atlantic United States since the late nineteenth century, and in sizes that range from brick English Cottages to giant Mansard-roofed mansions.  Tudor, Victorian, Colonial, Ranch, Modern, and many others are all to be found.  Most municipal government structures date from the 1920s, with a few being of more modern construction.

Many residents commute to New York City, but others work locally or in other parts of New Jersey.  South Orange has a central business district with restaurants, banks, and other retail and professional services.  There are a few small office buildings, but no large-scale enterprise other than Seton Hall University.

South Orange is served by two New Jersey Transit railroad stations along the Morristown Line: the South Orange station, located on South Orange Avenue near the Intersection of Vose Avenue, and the Mountain station, located in the Montrose section of South Orange.

In addition to trains, New Jersey Transit operates three bus lines that run through South Orange.  These include the 31 Coach USA Bus which stops at the corner of Irvington Avenue and Academy Street and travels between the Livingston Mall and Newark Penn Station, the 92 route which goes from South Orange Train Station to Branch Brook Park in Newark, and the 107 route which goes from South Orange Train Station to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City.

The township shares a common school system, the South Orange-Maplewood School District, with the adjacent town of Maplewood. The district has a single high school, Columbia High School, located in Maplewood (but nearly on the town border), two middle schools and several elementary schools in each town.

Schools in the district are:
Elementary Schools (K-5)
- Clinton Elementary School - Maplewood
- Jefferson Elementary School - Maplewood
- Marshall Elementary School - South Orange
- Seth Boyden Elementary School - Maplewood
- South Mountain Elementary School / Annex - South Orange
- Tuscan Elementary School - Maplewood
Middle Schools (6-8)
- Maplewood Middle School - Maplewood
- South Orange Middle School - South Orange
High School (9-12)
- Columbia High School - Maplewood
Private schools
- Our Lady of Sorrows School -- a K-8 elementary school operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark.
- Marylawn of the Oranges High School -- is an all-girl, private, Roman Catholic high school operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark.
Higher Education
- Seton Hall University -- located in South Orange at 400 South Orange Ave.  The University was founded in 1856 by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark and named after Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint. South Orange has a college feel with this Division I university located along the east side of South Orange Avenue, the community's main boulevard.  The school serves approximately 9,700 students.

South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) is located at 1 SOPAC Way, right next to the NJ Transit South Orange station.  The performance venue is a 415-seat proscenium theater, with a five-screen Clearview Cinemas movie theater, and a dance studio/rental space in the same complex.  SOPAC also partners with Seton Hall University to present Seton Hall Arts Council events throughout the year. These events include the Classical Concert Series, Jazz 'n the Hall, and Seton Hall Theatre—student theater productions.

WSOU-FM, "Seton Hall's Pirate Radio", is a non-commercial radio station licensed to South Orange and has studios and offices on the campus of Seton Hall University. The station operates at 89.5 FM.

Community information
- The town has a municipal swimming pool open to all residents.  The original pool, built in the 1920s, was reportedly the first free community pool to be built in the United States. It was replaced by an Olympic-size pool in 1972.
- The town was the first in the nation to have an Affinity credit card approach, the idea of the municipal affinity credit card being originated by former village president William Calabrese.
- When the town was wired for telephones and electricity in the early 20th century, the poles and wires were not allowed to run along the curb lines of streets as they do in most towns. In some sections they run along property lines in the middle of blocks, and in others they run underground.
- The former telephone company system of identifying exchanges is still evidenced by the 761, 762, and 763 prefixes used for most lines in South Orange and Maplewood, which would have originally been referred to as SO1, SO2, and SO3.
- South Orange and Maplewood share one of the largest online communities in the nation, featuring a very active message board at
- South Orange's full official name is the "Township of South Orange Village."
- South Orange was the first municipality in New Jersey to recognize civil unions for homosexual couples.  Exactly one hour after unions became legal in South Orange, they were recognized in neighboring Maplewood.
- The News-Record weekly newspaper reports on both South Orange and Maplewood, and there are other shared institutions as well.
- Main Street South Orange -- is guided by Main Street New Jersey, a program of the NJ Department of Community Affairs, Office of Smart Growth.
- Main Street South Orange Farmers Market -- Located at 14 Sloan St.; Parking lot across from NJ Transit train station, South Orange, and is open summer and fall Wednesdays, 2 - 7 pm.

Some Restaurants include--
- Ariyoshi Japanese (Sushi, Japanese) - 56 W South Orange Ave, South Orange
- Cafe Arugula (Italian) - 59 South Orange Avenue, South Orange
- Toro Loco (Mexican) - 23 Valley St # 1, South Orange
- Village Trattoria (Italian, Pizza) - 21 South Orange Ave., South Orange
- Town Hall Deli (Sandwiches/Subs, Breakfast/Brunch, Soups) - 60 Valley St, South Orange
- Papillon 25 (American, Southern & Soul, Caribbean) - 25 Valley St, South Orange
- Harusame (Japanese, Sushi) - 63 Academy St, South Orange
- Reservoir (Italian, Pizza) - 106 W South Orange Ave, South Orange
- Bunny's Ristorante (Italian, American) - 12 W South Orange Ave, South Orange
- Giorgio's Ristorante (Italian) - 52 Vose Avenue, South Orange
- Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant (Ethiopian/Eritrean, Vegetarian) - 261 Irvington Ave, South Orange
- Above Restaurant & Bar (American) - 1 South Orange Avenue, South Orange
- Neelam (Indian) - 115 S. Orange Ave., South Orange
- Gaslight Brewery & Restaurant (American, German) - 15 South Orange Avenue, South Orange
- Blue Ocean Chinese (Chinese) - 314 Irvington Ave, South Orange
- Antonella's (Italian) - 8 Village Plz, South Orange

National Register of Historic Places listings include--
- Eugene V. Kelly Carriage House, S. Orange Ave., Seton Hall University campus, South Orange -- Historic building from 1887, with 5 acres, now Father Vincent Monella Art Center on Seton Hall University campus
- Montrose Park Historic District, Roughly bounded by S. Orange, Sanford, and Heywood Aves., and Holland Rd., South Orange
- Mountain Station, 449 Vose Ave., South Orange
- South Orange Fire Department, Jct. of First and Sloan Sts., South Orange Village
- South Orange Station, 19 Sloan St., South Orange    
- South Orange Village Hall, S. Orange Ave. and Scotland Rd., South Orange
- Stone House by the Stone House Brook, 219 S. Orange Ave., South Orange

South Orange is proud of its historical focus and has a number of other places listed on the State Historic Register--
- Baird Community Center (ID#3146), 5 Mead Street
- Chapel of the Immaculate Conception (ID#4121), 400 South Orange Avenue
- Old Main Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Historic District (ID#3525), Morris and Essex Railroad Right-of-Way (NJ Transit Morristown Line), from Hudson, Hoboken City to Warren, Washington Township, and then along Warren Railroad to the Delaware River.
- Prospect Street Historic District (ID#4), bounded by South Orange Avenue on the north, Tichenor Avenue on the east, Roland Avenue on the south and railroad track on the west
- Temple Sharey Tefilo Israel (ID#78), 432 Scotland Road

The town is one of only a few in New Jersey to retain gas light street illumination.  The gaslight has long been the symbol of South Orange (together with the distinctive Village Hall).  Many of the major roads in town do have modern mercury vapor streetlights (built into gaslight frames), but most of the residential sections of the town are still gaslit.  There have been claims that South Orange has more operating gaslights than any other community in the United States.

"The time and circumstances under which the name South Orange originated will probably never be known," wrote historian William H. Shaw in 1884, "and we are obliged to fall back on a tradition, that Mr. Nathan Squier first used the name in an advertisement offering wood for sale" in 1795.

What is now South Orange was part of a territory purchased from the Lenape Native Americans in 1666 by Robert Treat, who founded Newark that year on the banks of the Passaic River. The unsettled areas north and west of Newark were at first referred to as the uplands. South Orange was called the Chestnut Hills for a time.

There are two claimants to the first English settlement in present-day South Orange.  In 1677 brothers Joseph and Thomas Brown began clearing land for a farm in the area northwest of the junction of two old trails that are now South Orange Avenue and Ridgewood Road.  A survey made in 1686 states, "note this Land hath a House on it, built by Joseph Brown and Thomas Brown, either of them having an equal share of it" located at the present southwest corner of Tillou Road and Ridgewood Road. 

A deed of 1800 locates a property as being in "the Township of Newark, in the Parish of Orange, at a place called South Orange", marking the end of the name Chestnut Hills.  Orange had been named after the ruler of England, William of Orange.  Most of modern South Orange became part of Orange Township in 1806, part of Clinton Township in 1834, and part of South Orange Township in 1861.  Gordon's Gazetteer circa 1830 describes the settlement as having "about 30 dwellings, a tavern and store, a paper mill and Presbyterian church".

A country resort called the Orange Mountain House was established in 1847 just north of town. Guests could enjoy the "water cure" from natural spring water and walk in the grounds that extended up the slope of South Mountain. The main house was right on Ridgewood Road.  The hotel burned down in 1890.  The only remnants today are the names of Mountain Station and the Mountain House Road leading west from it to the site of the hotel.

South Orange could be reached by the Morris and Essex Railroad which opened in 1837 between Newark and Morristown.  As of 1869, the M&E became part of the main line of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad which ran from Hoboken to Buffalo with through trains to Chicago.

The Montrose neighborhood was developed after the Civil War.  Its large houses on generous lots attracted wealthy families from Newark and New York City during the decades from 1870 to 1900.  The Orange Lawn Tennis Club was founded in 1880 at a location in Montrose, and in 1886 it was the location of the first US national tennis championships.  The club moved to larger grounds on Ridgewood Road in 1916.  Major tournament events were held at the club throughout the grass court era, and even into the mid-1980s professional events would occasionally be held there.

What is now the Baird Community House was up until about 1920 the clubhouse for a golf course that encompassed what is now Meadowlands Park.  In fact, until regrading was performed during the 1970s, the outline of one of the course's sandtraps was still visible near the base of Flood's Hill, a spot that has historically been one of the favorite sleigh riding spots in Essex County.

The construction of Village Hall in 1894 and the "old" library building in 1896 indicate how the village was growing by that date.  Horsecar service from Newark started in 1865, running via South Orange Avenue to the station.  Electric trolley cars began running the line in 1893 and by about 1900 a branch of this line also ran down Valley Street into Maplewood. 

The DL&W rebuilt the railroad through town in 1914-1916, raising the tracks above street level and opening new station buildings at South Orange and Mountain Station. In September 1930, a frail Thomas Edison (he would die about a year later) inaugurated electric train service on the M&E between Hoboken and South Orange, with further extensions of service to Morristown and Dover being initiated over the coming months.

Good transportation and a booming economy caused South Orange and neighboring towns to begin a major transformation in the 1920s into bedroom communities for Newark and New York City.  Large houses were built in the blocks around the Orange Lawn Tennis club, while in other areas, especially south of South Orange Avenue, more modest foursquare houses were put up for the growing American middle class.  The only large area not developed by 1930 was the high ground west of Wyoming Avenue.

There were at one time two rock quarries within the village supplying trap rock for construction.  Kernan's operated as late as the 1980s at the top of Tillou Road.  The town's other larger businesses were lumber and coal yards clustered around the railroad station that supplied them. The town's business district is still located in the blocks just east of the station.

The old Morris and Essex Railroad is operated today by NJ Transit.  Midtown Direct, initiated in 1996, offers service directly into Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan, and has since caused a surge in real estate prices as the commute time to midtown dropped from about 50 minutes to 30, as the service eliminated the need for passengers to transfer to PATH trains at Hoboken. 

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South Orange

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