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Maplewood, New Jersey
Township in Essex County, New Jersey, United States
When surveying the area now known as Maplewood, Robert Treat found several trails used by Lenape tribes of AlgonquianNative Americans, though there was only sparse pre-European settlement. These paths form the basis for what are the township's main thoroughfares today.
The first European settlers arrived around 1675, primarily English, Dutch and FrenchPuritans who had earlier settled Hempstead, Long Island, and Stamford, Connecticut, via Newark and Elizabeth. They had acquired most of today's Essex County from the Native Americans and followed three trails that roughly correspond to South Orange Avenue, Springfield Avenue and Ridgewood Road. These three routes resulted in the development of three separate communities that coalesced to become Maplewood and South Orange. Those who came from Newark on the trail that now corresponds to South Orange Avenue settled the area that became South Orange village.
Six families (with last names of Smith, Brown, Pierson, Freeman, Ball and Gildersleeve) came up today's Ridgewood Road and established scattered farms around a center that became Jefferson Village, named after Thomas Jefferson. This settlement, which roughly corresponds to downtown Maplewood today, developed several mills and orchards. John Durand, the son of Hudson River school painter Asher Brown Durand (who was born in Maplewood in 1796), describes the place as a picturesque but slightly backward community with close ties to Springfield. The apple harvest was apparently quite impressive and included the "Harrison" and "Canfield" varieties. By 1815, there were approximately 30 families in the community. Although the residents of the area were predominantly Presbyterian, the first house of worship was a Baptist chapel in 1812. This was in use until 1846 and fell into disrepair until 1858, when it was taken into use as a Methodist Episcopal church.
Those who came up today's Springfield Avenue settled on a hill crest near today's intersection between Tuscan and Springfield Avenue and established a hamlet known as North Farms. Over time, this community became known as the Hilton section. It became a stagecoach stop between Newark, Jersey City (then Paulus Hook), and Morristown and thereby a center for trade and light manufacturing. The village changed its name from North Farms to Middleville in 1830, and then to Hilton in 1880 when it was granted a post office. In 1855, Seth Boyden settled in what was then Middleville to retire but innovated a number of agricultural products, especially berries. Boyden also built and put into operation the first steam engines to service the railroad through Maplewood. The area became known for its orchards and related industries, including cider mills and rum distilleries, as well as honey and livestock.
In 1802, Jefferson Village and North Farms were named as districts within the Township of Newark.
The three communities developed and functioned independently, each establishing their own school associations: South Orange established the Columbian School in 1814, which would form the basis of Columbia High School; North Farms established the North Farms Association in 1817; and Jefferson Village the Jefferson Association in 1818. In 1867, when the State of New Jersey established public education through the School Law, the newly appointed County Superintendent merged the three associations into one school district, which was formalized in 1894 as the South Orange-Maplewood School District. James Ricalton, a teacher born in New York of Scottish parents who became the school district's first permanent teacher, helped set the high standard of education that persists in the school district to this day.
View of Maplewood from South Mountain Reservation
Maplewood was originally formed as South Orange Township, which was created on April 1, 1861, from portions of Clinton Township and what was then the Town of Orange. Portions of the township were taken to form South Orange village (established May 4, 1869, within the township and became fully independent on March 4, 1904) and Vailsburg borough (formed March 28, 1904, and annexed by Newark on January 1, 1905) The name of the township was changed to Maplewood on November 7, 1922.
When the Morris and Essex Railroad from Newark was extended to the area in 1838, a land speculator by the name of John Shedden built a railroad station in Jefferson Village and named it Maplewood. This name came to comprise areas known as Hilton, Jefferson Village, and areas previously part of Springfield. In 1868, farms were subdivided into parcels for residential housing and the area became a commuter suburb. The 1920s saw significant growth in new residents and structures.
A view of Maplewood from the Columbia High School clocktower
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 3.88 square miles (10.04 km2), including 3.87 square miles (10.03 km2) of land and <0.01 square miles (0.01 km2) of water (0.08%). A pond is in Memorial Park, the Rahway River runs through the township and there is a municipal pool club with four man-made pools of water; the remainder of the area is land.
Of the 8,240 households, 42.8% had children under the age of 18; 57.8% were married couples living together; 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present and 23.7% were non-families. Of all households, 19.1% were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.89 and the average family size was 3.33.
28.3% of the population were under the age of 18, 6.4% from 18 to 24, 24.9% from 25 to 44, 29.5% from 45 to 64, and 11.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.6 years. For every 100 females, the population had 90.6 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 85.4 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $101,463 (with a margin of error of +/- $6,610) and the median family income was $122,102 (+/- $9,324). Males had a median income of $83,656 (+/- $10,885) versus $57,422 (+/- $5,551) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $47,404 (+/- $2,404). About 1.5% of families and 2.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.5% of those under age 18 and 3.1% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 United States Census there were 23,868 people, 8,452 households, and 6,381 families residing in the township. The population density was 6,207.1 people per square mile (2,393.6/km2). There were 8,615 housing units at an average density of 2,240.4 per square mile (864.0/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 58.78% White, 32.63% Black, 0.13% Native American, 2.86% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.56% from other races, and 4.01% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.23% of the population.
There were 8,452 households, out of which 40.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.2% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.5% were non-families. 20.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.27.
In the township, the age distribution of the population shows 28.0% under the age of 18, 5.6% from 18 to 24, 30.2% from 25 to 44, 24.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.1 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $79,637, and the median income for a family was $92,724. Males had a median income of $57,572 versus $41,899 for females. The per capita income for the township was $36,794. 4.4% of the population and 3.4% of families were below the poverty line. 4.9% of those under the age of 18 and 6.0% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
Arts and culture
In 2018 Brooke Lea Foster of The New York Times described Maplewood as one of several "least suburban of suburbs, each one celebrated by buyers there for its culture and hip factor, as much as the housing stock and sophisticated post-city life."
The township owns and operates the Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts at 10 Durand Road. The Center, a former Christian Science Church, was donated to the town by Jean Burgdorff, a local real estate entrepreneur. The building was transferred to the town on October 15, 1988. In 2008, the township committed to a $130,000 plan to improve the building.
Every year, on the weekend following the weekend closest to July 4, there is a concert in town called Maplewoodstock. The free concert consists of local and national bands performing alongside various stalls showcasing local businesses.
Architecture and landscape
Many of the more recognizable buildings and spaces were the work of famous architects and landscape designers. Most of the schools and the Municipal Building were the work of Guilbert & Betelle. The center of town is dominated by Memorial Park, a design of the Olmsted Brothers. The Olmsted firm was also responsible for the landscaping at Ward Homestead, designed by John Russell Pope, and now known as Winchester Gardens, located on Elmwood Avenue. On the opposite side of town is another Olmsted work, South Mountain Reservation. The Maplewood Theater, designed by William E. Lehman, was where Cheryl Crawford first revived Porgy and Bess.
UltimateFrisbee (now called simply "Ultimate") was invented in Maplewood in 1968 by students at Columbia High School. A plaque commemorating the birthplace of Ultimate Frisbee is located in the student parking lot.
In the 2007 film Gracie, the plot is set in and partially filmed in Maplewood and Columbia High School. Producer Andrew Shue and actress Elisabeth Shue both attended Columbia, and the plot is loosely based on their lives during high school.
Fishing and canoeing is available on the East Branch of the Rahway River, which travels through the township.
Maplewood is governed under the Township form of government, one of 141 municipalities (of the 565) statewide that use this form. The governing body is a Township Committee, which is comprised of five members who are elected directly by the voters at-large in partisan elections to serve three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either one or two seats coming up for election each year as part of the November general election in a three-year cycle. At an annual reorganization meeting, the Township Committee selects one of its members to serve as Mayor for a one-year term, and another to serve as Vice Mayor. The Mayor has the responsibility of Chair for the Township Committee meetings with voice and vote. The Mayor is considered the head of the municipal government.
The Township Committee is the legislative body of the municipality and is responsible for enacting the township's laws. The Township Committee is also an executive body. Under this form of government, the elected Township Committee sets policy and overall direction for the Township. The Township staff, under the direction of the Township Administrator, carries out Committee policy and provides day to day services. The Township Administrator serves as the chief administrative officer and is accountable to the Township Committee.
As of 2020[update], members of the Maplewood Township Committee are Mayor Frank E. McGehee (D, term on committee ends December 31, 2022; term as mayor ends 2020), Deputy Mayor Dean Dafis (D, term on committee and as deputy mayor ends 2020), Nancy Adams (D, 2021), Vic DeLuca (D, 2020) and Gregory Lembrich (D, 2021).
Federal, state and county representation
Maplewood is located in the 10th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 27th state legislative district.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 16,399 registered voters in Maplewood, of which 9,306 (56.7%) were registered as Democrats, 1,439 (8.8%) were registered as Republicans and 5,645 (34.4%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 9 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 84.4% of the vote (10,007 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 14.9% (1,764 votes), and other candidates with 0.8% (91 votes), among the 11,924 ballots cast by the township's 17,391 registered voters (62 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 68.6%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 81.9% of the vote (10,649 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 16.6% (2,156 votes) and other candidates with 0.7% (90 votes), among the 13,003 ballots cast by the township's 16,523 registered voters, for a turnout of 78.7%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 76.3% of the vote (9,113 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 22.7% (2,709 votes) and other candidates with 0.6% (90 votes), among the 11,943 ballots cast by the township's 15,289 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 78.1.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Barbara Buono received 69.0% of the vote (4,833 cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 29.6% (2,074 votes), and other candidates with 1.4% (97 votes), among the 7,116 ballots cast by the township's 17,502 registered voters (112 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 40.7%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 72.2% of the vote (5,871 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 20.3% (1,650 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 6.2% (507 votes) and other candidates with 0.8% (65 votes), among the 8,135 ballots cast by the township's 16,202 registered voters, yielding a 50.2% turnout.
Maplewood is a diverse and family-friendly community. The township has a downtown area alternatively known as "the village" or "Maplewood Center" with a movie theater, several upscale and mid-scale restaurants, a small supermarket, independent café, two liquor stores, a toy store and an independent bookstore. The structure of the downtown is largely unchanged since the 1950s. Maplewood won New Jersey Monthly magazine's Downtown Showdown in 2015, with the editor's noting the community's "myriad boutiques, art galleries and notable restaurants".
Maplewood counts among its residents a large number of theater professionals working in Broadway and off-Broadway productions, owing to the town's convenient rail access and relatively short commute via train into Manhattan. In 2010, a group of 32 of these actors and technicians formed their own repertory theater company and named it Midtown Direct Rep, after the NJ Transit line on which they all commuted.
Maplewood Middle School
Maplewood is part of the unified South Orange-Maplewood School District, together with the neighboring community of South Orange. The district has a single high school (located in Maplewood) two middle schools a central pre-school and neighborhood elementary schools in each municipality. As of the 2017-18 school year, the district, comprised of nine schools, had an enrollment of 7,234 students and 565.3 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student-teacher ratio of 12.8:1. Schools in the district (with 2017-18 school enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are
Montrose Early Childhood Center (127 students, in PreK; located in Maplewood),
Seth Boyden Elementary Demonstration School (545 students, in grades K-5 located in Maplewood),
Clinton Elementary School (578, K-5; Maplewood),
Jefferson Elementary School (530, 3-5; Maplewood),
Marshall Elementary School (487, K-2; South Orange),
South Mountain Elementary School (591, K-5; South Orange),
South Mountain Elementary School Annex (NA, K-1; South Orange),
Tuscan Elementary School (K-5, 616; Maplewood),
Maplewood Middle School (753, 6-8; Maplewood),
South Orange Middle School (811, 6-8; South Orange) and
Columbia High School (2,007, 9-12; Maplewood).
Roads and highways
Exit 143B off the Garden State Parkway for Maplewood
There are approximately 226 streets within Maplewood. Springfield Avenue is a state highway (Route 124, from Irvington to Morristown), and four thoroughfares are Essex County roads (Valley Street, Millburn Avenue, Irvington Avenue, Wyoming Avenue).
Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), spent several summers in Maplewood visiting his uncle Cornelius V.S. Roosevelt's home and property, known as The Hickories, covering 100 acres (0.40 km2), an area now partly covered by Roosevelt Road and Kermit Road.
^Seth Boyden, Durand-Hedden, October 27, 2005. Accessed November 5, 2019. "Seth Boyden, 'one of America's greatest inventors,' according to Thomas Edison, spent the last 15 years of his life in 'Middleville'--what is now Hilton. Although Newark was the site of most of his innovations and inventions, it is in the Hilton neighborhood of Maplewood where he is honored by both 'Boyden Avenue' and 'Seth Boyden Elementary School.'"
^Maplewood, Maplewood Historic Preservation Commission. Accessed September 22, 2013.
^James Ricalton Lantern Slide Collection, St. Lawrence University Library. Accessed November 5, 2019. "After briefly attending St. Lawrence University (class of 1871) Ricalton left before taking a degree and moved to Maplewood, New Jersey in 1871 where he worked as a school teacher. By all accounts, he was an extraordinary teacher, and his legacy is celebrated in the South Orange-Maplewood School District."
^Foster, Brooke Lea. "Comparing Suburbs: Montclair in New Jersey vs. Dobbs Ferry in New York", The New York Times|, February 23, 2018. Accessed February 10, 2020. "With those requirements, they found themselves exploring the nearby suburbs to which many reluctant city dwellers have traveled a well-trodden path: Maplewood and Montclair, in New Jersey; and the Rivertowns in Westchester, including Dobbs Ferry, Hastings-on-Hudson, Tarrytown, Irvington and Ardsley (although the latter is not technically on the river). Call them the least suburban of suburbs, each one celebrated by buyers there for its culture and hip factor, as much as the housing stock and sophisticated post-city life."
^Gialanella, Donna. "Jean Burgdorff", The Star-Ledger, December 28, 2007. Accessed September 8, 2012. "In the 1980s, she bought a Christian Science Church in Maplewood for $500,000 and donated it to the town for a community center, now called the Burgdorff Cultural Center."
^"Maplewood Theater Stirs Memories", The New York Times, October 2, 1988. Accessed September 22, 2013. "The Maplewood was, at that time, in the very capable hands of Cheryl Crawford, a theater-wise executive from Manhattan who had been one of the founders of the illustrious Group Theater.... Miss Crawford topped it all off with a revival of Porgy and Bess that went into the Ziegfeld Theater in New York for a long run."
^Caldwell, Dave. "Still Competing at Ultimate Frisbee's Birthplace", The New York Times, November 13, 2008. Accessed August 5, 2013. "The lot is still there, its surface cracked and rutted with potholes. In the corner is a stone marker, erected in 1989, with a circular plaque carrying an inscription: 'Birthplace of Ultimate Frisbee, created by Columbia High School students in 1968.'"
^Bulger, Adam. "Blog: Philip Roth's Memories of Maplewood", Maplewood, NJ Patch, February 12, 2009. Accessed November 5, 2019. "It shouldn't be a surprise that Philip Roth made a passing reference to Maplewood in his early novella, Goodbye Columbus. The Portnoy's Complaint author is after all, from Newark, where GC is set."
^About the Rahway River Watershed, Rahway River Watershed Association. Accessed December 1, 2016. "The East Branch originates between West Orange and Orange and travels through South Orange and Maplewood. "
^About, Township of Maplewood. Accessed November 5, 2019. "Maplewood is governed under the Township form of government with a five-member Township Committee. The Township Committee is elected directly by the voters in partisan elections to serve three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with one or two seats coming up for election each year. At an annual reorganization meeting, the Township Committee selects one of its members to serve as Mayor for a one year term, and another to serve as Deputy Mayor."
^ abGeneral Information, Essex County, New Jersey. Accessed June 10, 2018. "The County Executive, elected from the County at-large, for a four-year term, is the chief political and administrative officer of the County.... The Board of Chosen Freeholders consists of nine members, five of whom are elected from districts and four of whom are elected at-large. They are elected for three-year concurrent terms and may be re-elected to successive terms at the annual election in November."
^Dryfoos, Delanwy. "Town permanently painted crosswalk rainbow, because LGBT pride never goes away", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, June 7, 2018. Accessed November 5, 2019. "In Maplewood, LGBT pride doesn't just happen during Pride Month in June. And officials in town are proving it with a permanent change to a busy township intersection. Maplewood plans to unveil Thursday permanent rainbow striped crosswalks -- joining just a few other towns in the world that have done the same thing."
^Haithman, Diane. "The man behind the band at USC", Los Angeles Times, September 4, 2011. Accessed February 10, 2020. "What is the Trojan style, exactly? Bartner is the best guy to ask -- he developed it. Raised in Maplewood, N.J., a trumpet player and jazz enthusiast with a doctorate in music education from the University of Michigan, Bartner was teaching high school music in that state when he was recruited by USC because of his history with the highly regarded Michigan band."
^Schweber, Nate. "Maplewood's Birnbaum Traces Open Road to City Music Success", MaplewoodPatch, April 9, 2010. Accessed July 1, 2011. "Musically it's a long way from Maplewood to Joe's Pub, a classy and revered Manhattan performance space that has showcased hundreds of renowned musicians including Pete Townsend, Elvis Costello and Bono. Jeremiah Birnbaum, a roots-minded, guitar-slinging songwriter who grew up in Maplewood, has made both journeys."
^Seth Boyden Statue, Newark History. Accessed September 8, 2012. "Later on Boyden invented a made-to-order fire engine for Newark. The historical record ends with Boyden living in what is now Maplewood (then called Hilton), breeding a larger strawberry."
^Strauss, Bob. "Why America loves Zach Braff", Los Angeles Daily News, September 12, 2006. Accessed May 1, 2016. "But the fact Braff didn't enter the family business might have something to do with growing up in Maplewood, New Jersey, and attending Columbia High School there."
^Yu, Roger. "20-year-old YouTuber is tech reviewing star", USA Today, March 3, 2015. Accessed May 1, 2016. "Brownlee's interest in technology wasn't spotted early, but his sense of curiosity and poise have always stood out, say his parents, Jeaniene and Marlon Brownlee, who raised Brownlee and his sister, Simone, in Maplewood, N.J."
^Fowler, Linda A. "Twain role is no drag for Butz", The Star-Ledger, January 9, 2008. Accessed January 27, 2011. "Butz's frisky performance won flat-out raves. More than one critic dubbed the Maplewood resident the funniest guy on Broadway."
^"Essex County Dedicates Plaque for Raymond Durkin", The Village Green of Maplewood and South Orange, April 22, 2015. Accessed February 10, 2020. "Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. (at right in photo) dedicated a bronze plaque honoring the life and legacy of the late Raymond M. Durkin on Wednesday, April 22.... The plaque was placed on the promenade in the Essex County Government Complex to raise awareness about Mr. Durkin's contributions to Essex County. He was a resident of Maplewood when he passed away on December 23, 2014, at the age of 78."
^Staff. "Philly.com: Top Neo-Nazi Shock Jock Grew Up in Maplewood NJ", Village Green of Maplewood and South Orange, October 26, 2017. Accessed July 3, 2019. "According to a report on Philly.com today, neo-Nazi shock jock and white supremacist Mike Enoch grew up in Maplewood NJ and attended Columbia High School."
^Loos, Ted. "A Man on an Eco-Mission in Mixed Media", The New York Times, August 29, 2017. Accessed May 23, 2020. "Mr. Guariglia grew up in Maplewood, N.J., and was a freelance photojournalist based in Asia for 20 years, taking pictures for The New York Times, Time, National Geographic and others."
^Cardwell, Diane. "LEDs Emerge as a Popular 'Green' Lighting", The New York Times, January 21, 2013. Accessed January 21, 2013. "'One day I randomly walked into a Home Depot and thought, LED -- when did that happen?' said Clayton Morris, 36, a host of Fox & Friends Weekend, who was buying the bulbs in Vauxhall as part of his project to slowly replace the incandescents in his Maplewood home."
^McCutcheon, Lauren. "Kevin O'Connor reveals how to get your home on This Old House, The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 16, 2018. Accessed March 26, 2018. "When This Old House host Kevin O'Connor takes the main stage at the Philadelphia Home Show this weekend, he'll represent the O.G. of home-renovation shows. The Maplewood, N.J., native has hosted the contractor- and tradesperson-driven PBS program for 15 years, following hosts Steve Thomas (1989-2003) and Bob Vila (1979-89)."
^Primack, Dan, "Ellen Pao has landed ... at Reddit",Fortune, April 11, 2013. Accessed July 20, 2015. "In the post, Pao offered the following statement to Reddit users: 'I grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey, raised by enginerds on Star Wars, computers and books.'"
^Staff. "Former Blackbird Herb Scherer Passes Away"Archived March 17, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds, July 3, 2012. Accessed July 29, 2012. "Herb was born on December 21, 1928, at home in Maplewood, New Jersey. He attended Bloomfield Technical High School and Long Island University where he graduated in 1950 with a BS degree in physical education. A college basketball star, Herb was on the starting five of the nationally ranked LIU Blackbirds. Herb was drafted by the New York Knicks in 1950 where he played from 1951-1952. He married Mary Buist on June 9, 1951 and they settled in Parsippany, New Jersey for the next thirty years in the home he built for them."
^Shyrock, Bob. "South Jersey native nominated for Oscar for 'Life of Pi'", South Jersey Times, January 12, 2013. Accessed October 24, 2015. "Former Wenonah resident Tim Squyres, who has edited 11 of director Ang Lee's 12 films, has been nominated for an Oscar for his work on Lee's acclaimed fantasy adventure Life of Pi.... Nominated for an Oscar previously for editing Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Squyres is a graduate of Gateway Regional High School and Cornell University whose parents reside in Wenonah. The father of two, Squyres now lives in Maplewood in Essex County."
^Waggoner, Walter H. "Agnes Turnbull, Novelist, 93, Dies", The New York Times, February 2, 1982. Accessed July 29, 2012. "Agnes Sligh Turnbull, a popular and prolific novelist and shortstory writer, died Sunday at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J. She was 93 years old and had lived in Maplewood, N.J., for 60 years."
^Martin, Douglas. "George W. Webber, Social Activist Minister, Dies at 90", The New York Times, July 12, 2010. Accessed November 12,2 018. "The Rev. George W. Webber, a Protestant minister and educator whose quest to make religion more socially relevant led him to remake a major seminary, start storefront churches in East Harlem and begin a program to educate prison inmates as pastors, died Saturday at his home in Maplewood, N.J."