South Orange, which is on the steep side of South Mountain, is 18 miles from NYC. It is a 2.8 square mile community of approximately 17,000 who live on pretty tree-lined streets lit by 1500 gas street lamps dating back to when the community was first settled. South Orange has a quaint downtown featuring boutiques and restaurants as well as the South Orange Train station.
South Orange shares a school district with Maplewood as part of the unified South Orange-Maplewood School District. Together there are 6 Elementary Schools, 2 Middle Schools and 1 High School.
Columbia High School – has one of the largest number of AP class offerings (24) in the region – more than 91% of graduates pursue higher education degrees and are accepted at some of the best private and Ivy League universities in the US. In addition the school offers a wealth of electives as well as a variety of extracurricular activities including having the opportunity to work on its own cable TV station!
South Orange offers an outstanding commute to NYC – if you catch the express train you can be in Penn Station in 33 minutes! There is parking near the train station and a convenient new parking deck has opened one block from the station. In addition, the town runs a jitney service that makes several routes and takes commuters to the train on time and picks them up at the end of the day.
South Orange has a vibrant village with restaurants, shops and personal services businesses. Additionally, South Orange is home to a number of excellent arts and entertainment venues including The Baird Center and the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC).
The Baird Center is situated in Meadowland Park, and it offers the long-running concert series named the “Giants of Jazz.” Essex County artists enter their works in the bi-annual “Essex Exposed” juried competition at the Piero Gallery of South Orange at the Baird.
SOPAC, which opened in 2006, is situated adjacent to the South Orange train station. It includes a 415-seat proscenium theater, a dance studio, and a five-screen movie theater. SOPAC offers major entertainers and well-known artists throughout the year. A classical concert series is also produced in collaboration with Seton Hall University.
South Orange is situated on land first bought from the Lenape Native Americans by Captian Robert Treat in 1666. Treat would go on to establish Newark on the shores of the Passaic River during that same year. Around 1830, The Mountain House, a country resort, was built north of the small community and owned by Mr. Lord of Lord & Taylor. Trails led up the slopes of South Mountain, and a natural spring on the premises was popular among those that believed in its curative powers. So popular was this hotel, the Eclipse Stage Line operated between the hotel and Newark. All that is left of the resort today, lost to fire around 1881, is Mountain Station and Mountain House Road.
Despite this incident, the village prospered. In line with the times, in 1893, an electric trolley started up. Transportation options proliferated, and South Orange became a popular bedroom community for both Newark and New York City by the 1920s.