is a township
in central Essex County
, New Jersey
, United States
. As of the United States 2000 Census
, the township population was 44,943. West Orange adjoins the South Mountain Reservation
West Orange is located at (40.788650, -74.255416).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 12.2 square miles (31.7 km²), of which, 12.1 square miles (31.4 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (0.90%) is water.
The oldest and most densely populated part of the township lies in the low valley along the border with the City of Orange, between Montclair Township in the north and South Orange Township to the south ("down the hill"). The Edison National Historic Site is located on Main Street in this section, and several major east-west arteries of the Newark street grid have their western terminus here, notably Central and Park Avenues. Downtown West Orange has a more urban character than the rest of the township.
Moving west, the neighborhoods along the First Watchung Mountain become increasingly suburban, ascending the steep hill along Northfield, Mount Pleasant, and Eagle Rock Avenues. The housing stock in neighborhoods of Hutton Park and the First Mountain neighborhoods is a mixture of 19th-century and Jazz Age estates, large pre-war Tudor-style houses, garden apartments, and post-war suburban houses. Llewellyn Park, one of the country's first planned communities, is also located on the First Mountain. These parts of town overlook downtown West Orange and many streets, often called terraces, have sweeping views of the skylines of downtown Newark and New York City.
Beyond the high ridge of Prospect Avenue ("up the hill"), the township transitions to a predominantly post-war suburban neighborhood, interspersed with pockets of older homes, golf courses, and shopping centers, sloping back down toward Pleasant Valley Way. Pleasantdale includes a business district and large Orthodox Jewish community.
The westernmost section of West Orange lies along the eastern face of the Second Watchung Mountain, and includes a large part of South Mountain Reservation. The post-war housing stock in this neighborhood resembles Pleasant Valley, bordering the townships of Millburn, Maplewood and Livingston.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 44,943 people, 16,480 households, and 11,684 families residing in the township. The population density
was 3,708.7 people per square mile (1,431.7/km²). There were 16,901 housing units at an average density of 1,394.7/sq mi (538.4/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 67.55% White
, 17.46% African American
, 0.14% Native American
, 8.09% Asian
, 0.04% Pacific Islander
, 3.52% from other races
, and 3.20% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 10.04% of the population.
There were 16,480 households out of which 32.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.0% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.1% were non-families. 24.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.19. In the township the population was spread out with 23.3% under the age of 18, 6.2% from 18 to 24, 29.7% from 25 to 44, 23.4% from 45 to 64, and 17.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 88.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.0 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $69,254, and the median income for a family was $83,375. Males had a median income of $52,029 versus $39,484 for females. The per capita income for the township was $34,412. About 4.6% of families and 5.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.0% of those under age 18 and 7.8% of those age 65 or over.
The Township of West Orange is governed by the Mayor-Council
system of municipal government under the Faulkner Act
. Within this form of government, each member of the Township Council is elected to four-year terms on a staggered basis, in nonpartisan
elections and serves on an at-large
basis, representing the entire township.
The Mayor and members of the Township Council are:
- John F. McKeon, Mayor (term ends June 30, 2010)
- Sal M. Anderton, Township Councilman (2012)
- Renard Barnes, Township Councilman (2010)
- Patty Spango., Township Councilwoman (2012)
- Susan McCartney, Township Councilwoman (2010)
- Robert Parisi, Township Councilman (2012)
- Harry L. Starrett - Presiding Judge, West Orange Municipal Court
- Margaret Padovano - Municipal Judge, West Orange Municipal Court
- Mark Infante - Municipal Prosecutor
On the national level, West Orange leans toward the Democratic Party. In 2004, Democrat John Kerry received 65% of the vote there, as opposed to Republican George W. Bush, who received around 34%.
Federal, state and county representation
West Orange is split between the Eighth and Tenth Congressional and is part of New Jersey's 27th Legislative District.
West Orange is represented on the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders by Freeholders Linda Lordi-Cavanaugh (District 4), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (At-Large) and Freeholder Blonnie R. Watson (At-Large).
The West Orange Public Schools
serves students in Kindergarten through 12th grade, including a total of eleven school facilities. Schools in the district (with 2005-06 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics
) are seven elementary schools (all K-5, except as noted) — Gregory
(412) — three middle schools —
(7&8; 528) and
(7&8; 438) —
and one high school, West Orange High School
(1,998), for grades 9-12. In the 1990s, the West Orange school district was ranked among the top 1% of schools in the nation by The Washington Post
West Orange was initially a part of the city of Newark
, and remained such until November 27, 1806, when the territory now encompassing all of The Oranges
was detached to form Orange Township
. On April 13, 1807, the first government was elected. On January 31, 1860, Orange was incorporated as a town
, and on April 3, 1872, it was officially incorporated as a city. Almost immediately, Orange began fragmenting into smaller communities, primarily because of local disputes about the costs of establishing paid police, fire, and street departments. South Orange
was organized on April 1, 1861, Fairmount
(an independent municipality for less than one year that was later to become part of West Orange) on March 11, 1862 and East Orange
on March 4, 1863. West Orange (including what had been the briefly-independent municipality of Fairmount) was formed as a township on April 10, 1863, and was reformed as a town on February 28, 1900.
Llewellyn Park, the first planned community in America is located within West Orange. Designed by Llewellyn Haskell and A. J. Davis in 1857. Llewellyn Park is considered the best example of "The Romantic Landscape" movement of that period. Thomas Edison was one of the many residents.
The Jersey Rockhoppers
Hockey Team of the Eastern Professional Hockey League
will play home games at the Richard J. Codey Arena
beginning in Fall 2008. The arena also used to be the practice facility for The New Jersey Devils
Mass media and telecommunications
For years West Orange has been a hotbed for the mass-media and telecommunications industries. The first movie studio ever was located in this town, There are a number of antenna's located in the town. From the mid-1970s until the early 1990s Channel 68 TV
maintained their offices, studios and transmitter on Eagle Rock Avenue which was then occupied by WNBC-TV
as a backup transmitter facility after Channel 68 moved to West Market Street in Newark
. As of March 2007, the 416 Eagle Rock Avenue property is now an empty lot, the main building which housed Channel 68 was recently demolished and the transmitter tower now stands alone. WFME Radio
has their offices studios and transmitter while their sister station WFME-TV
has their executive offices in the same building on Mount Pleasant Avenue next to an MCI Communications
(Now part of Verizon Communications
) Fiber optics
and satellite transmission facility and a Fiber Optic and satellite transmission facility on Eagle Rock Avenue next to the old Channel 68 building. Former Upsala College
radio station WFMU
's transmitter is on Marcella Avenue just down the street from WFME. Sprint Nextel
and Verizon Wireless
all have cell towers located throughout the township to provide clear coverage and Verizon maintains a huge Central Office
on Prospect Avenue.
Notable current and former residents of West Orange include:
- Dan Bălan (1979-), Writer of Dragostea din tei and leader of the Moldovan pop boy-band group O-zone, now a rock singer with his band Balan producing, writing, composing, and singing songs such as Sugar Tunes Numa Numa.
- Robert "Kool" Bell (1950-), Musician with Kool and the Gang. Lived in Llewellyn Park section of West Orange.
- Martin Brodeur (1972-), ice hockey goaltender in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils.
- Vinnie Brown, (better known by his stage name Vin Rock), rapper for group Naughty by Nature.
- Brendan Byrne (1924-), Governor of New Jersey from 1974 to 1982.
- Joan Caulfield (1922-1991), Movie, theatre, television actress of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Born in East Orange, she moved to West Orange during childhood and lived here until her high school graduation from a private school in Orange.
- Alex Chiger (1985-), Hiphop music producer (aka "Don Cheegro") whose credits include work found on the Grammy winning album "Release Therapy" by Ludacris, "Fantasia" by Fantasia, Chris Brown's "Exclusive" and Beanie Sigel's "The Solution".
- Richard Codey (1946-), State Senator, and Acting Governor of New Jersey in 2002 and Governor from 2004 until 2006.
- Brandon Costner (1987-), forward for the NC State Wolfpack basketball team.
- Charles Cullen (1960-), Serial killer who grew up on Kling Street.
- Ginny Duenkel (1947-), Winner of a Gold and Bronze medal in two swimming events at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Ginny Duenkel Municipal Pool is named in her honor.
- DJ Whoo Kid (1979-), official DJ of G-Unit.
- Charles Edison (1890-1969), United States Secretary of the Navy 1940, Governor of New Jersey 1941 to 1944 and son of Thomas Edison.
- Theodore Miller Edison (1898-1992), only child of his inventor father who graduated college; went on to become an inventor with over 80 patents.
- Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931), Invented the phonograph, the incandescent electric lightbulb, and the first practical motion picture camera. Edison's Black Maria, the first movie studio, was located in West Orange.
- Eugenio Fernandi (1922-1991), a leading tenor with the Metropolitan Opera who rose to prominence in the late 1950s and 1960s. He is credited with having received twenty-two curtain calls for his performance in Lucia di Lammermoor.
- Leo Fitzpatrick (1978-), Actor who was in Kids and Bully which also stars former West Orange resident Michael Pitt.
- Alisa Flatow
- General Paul J. Kern was the commanding general of the United States Army Materiel Command from 2001-2004.
- Carole King (1942-) and Gerry Goffin (1939-), Husband & wife songwriting team. From the late 1950s through the 1980s they were one of the most talented and successful of all pop song writers. In 1969, she expanded her career to singing with her 1971 album Tapestry, one of the most popular of all-time. In the early to mid 1960s they resided off Pleasant Valley Way along with other song writers. This location gave rise to the song Pleasant Valley Sunday, recorded by the Monkees in 1966.
- Bettye LaVette (1946-), Soul singer who released her first record at age 16 and found success with I've Got My Own Hell to Raise at age 59 in 2005.
- George B. McClellan (1826-1885), Major General and briefly general-in-chief of the Union Army during the Civil War. He ran as a Democrat against Lincoln in the presidential election of 1864. He went on to become governor of New Jersey (1878-1881).
- Joseph Minish (1916-2007), represented in the United States House of Representatives.
- Fred Ott (1860-1936), an employee of Thomas Edison's in the 1890s who "starred" in two of the earliest surviving motion pictures – Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze (a.k.a. Fred Ott's Sneeze) and Fred Ott Holding a Bird – both from 1894.
- Michael Pitt (1981-), Actor who was in Murder by Numbers, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Last Days, among other films.
- Phil Rizzuto (1917-2007), nicknamed "The Scooter," played shortstop for the New York Yankees from 1941-1956.
- Anwar Robinson (1979-), finalist on American Idol (season 4). The year prior and leading up to Idol, Anwar worked at Edison Middle School, but no longer does.
- Peter W. Rodino (1909-2005), United States Congressman from 1949 to 1989.
- Alfredo Silipigni (1932-2006), conductor.
- Amos Alonzo Stagg (1862-1965), known as “The Grand Old Man” of college football. During the founding year of the College Football Hall of Fame, he was inducted as both a player and a coach. He was among the first group of inductees into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959. He is also credited with the invention of the batting cage in baseball and the tackling dummy in football. West Orange’s Stagg Field playground is named in his honor. Ranked #4 on the Sports Illustrated list of The 50 Greatest New Jersey Sports Figures.
- "Uncle" Floyd Vivino (1951-), Actor, comedian, kids TV show host, musician, and radio show host.
- Scott Wolf (1968-), Actor who is best known as Bailey Salinger on the TV series Party of Five.
- Ian Ziering (1964-), Actor who is best known for the role of Steve Sanders on the TV series Beverly Hills 90210.
- Abner Zwillman (1899-1959), Jewish mobster found hanging dead at his mansion home at 15 Beverly Road on February 27, 1959.
- The Essex County Parks and Recreation Department erected a memorial inside of Eagle Rock Reservation to the memory of those Essex County residents who were killed during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The memorial is located on a site that overlooks the New York City skyline, and was dedicated on October 20, 2002.
- West Orange was frequently used as a locale in the HBO mafia series The Sopranos. Filming locations included the Green Hill Retirement Community on Pleasant Valley Way depicted as the Green Grove Nursing Home where Tony's mother Livia resided and the Police Department headquarters located at 60 Main Street was depicted as the East Haledon Police Department in the episode Johnny Cakes.
- The New Jersey Devils, a NHL team, used the Richard J. Codey Arena at South Mountain as their practice facility until the 07-08 season.
- Thomas Edison bought a property known as Glenmont in 1886 as a wedding gift for his bride. It occupies 13.5 acres (55,000 m²) in the Llewellyn Park district. The remains of both Thomas and Mina Edison are now buried there. Glenmont is maintained by the National Park Service as part of the Edison National Historic Site.
- The first motion picture studio, The Black Maria, was located on the grounds of Edison's factory in West Orange.
- The first Linens-N-Things store which has since permanently closed was located on the upper level of the Essex Green Shopping Center.
- Turtle Back Zoo, founded in 1963 and currently one of only four zoos in New Jersey, is located in the South Mountain Reservation.
- West Orange has the largest population of Jewish and Roman Catholic residents in Essex County.
- In 1999, West Orange was chosen to participate in Nickelodeon's Big Help-a-Thon kids volunteer movement.
- In 2000, West Orange was chosen as one of the cities to host the annual CowParade.
- West Orange also houses a branch of the New Jersey National Guard at the West Orange Armory.