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Maplewood is a township in Essex County, New Jersey. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township population was 23,867 and has a total area of 3.8 square miles, all land but for the pond in Memorial Park, the Rahway River that runs through town, and the municipal pool club.
Maplewood was originally formed as South Orange Township, which was created in 1861, from portions of Clinton Township and what was then the Town of Orange. The name of the township was changed to Maplewood in 1922.
Chosen by New York Magazine as one of the top 10 affordable suburbs in the New York Metro area. Maplewood shares a border with the following municipalities: West Orange and South Orange to the north, Newark and Irvington to the east, Union to the south, and Millburn to the west.
Maplewood prides itself on being a diverse and family-friendly community. A quiet, residential haven recognized for its charming neighborhood ambiance, a quaint town center, and tree-lined neighborhoods of well-kept older homes. In a number of surveys it is ranked among the most desirable places to live in the United States.
The township has a downtown area alternatively known as "the village" or "Maplewood Center" with its own movie theater, several upscale and mid-scale restaurants, a small supermarket, independent café, two liquor stores, a toy store and a small bookstore.
Access to Interstates 78 and 280, the Garden State Parkway, bus service, and commuter trains to Hoboken with transfer to New York City ensure transportation efficiencies. Maplewood is served by a New Jersey Transit rail station which is named after it.
Maplewood schools are part of the unified South Orange-Maplewood School District, together with the neighboring community of South Orange. Schools in the district are six elementary schools serving grades K-5 — Seth Boyden Elementary School (grades K-5), Clinton Elementary School (grades K-5), Jefferson Elementary School (grades 3–5), Marshall Elementary School (grades K-2), South Mountain Elementary School and Annex (grades K-5) and Tuscan Elementary School (grades K-5) — Maplewood Middle School and South Orange Middle School for grades 6–8 and Columbia High School for grades 9–12.
Nearby college is Seton Hall University, 400 South Orange Avenue, South Orange, NJ
Steeped in history, the town features many notable landmarks such as the Durand-Hedden House and Garden. Contemporary development includes revitalization of the Maplewood Country Club and expansion of the 36-acre Ward Homestead to include villas and apartments.
Recreational amenities include county parks, nature centers, lakes, wilderness areas, multi-purpose trails, local parks, an outdoor ice-skating rink, playgrounds sports fields, league sports, tennis courts, swimming pools, and cultural and community centers.
Points of interest include--
- Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts - The township owns and operates the center at 10 Durand Road. A former Christian Science Church, was donated to the town by Jean Burgdorff, a local real estate entrepreneur in 1988.
- Maplewoodstock - Annually, during the weekend following the 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.
- Maplewood Country Club (28 Baker Street) - beside golf, it is also available for Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, Sweet 16s, Anniversary Parties, and similar group celebrations.
- South Mountain Reservation - South Mountain Reservation covers 2,047.14 acres in central Essex County, New Jersey, in portions of Maplewood, and Millburn and West Orange, bordering South Orange, between the first and second ridges of the Watchung Mountains. Built from land purchases begun in 1895, it took a decade to untangle the deeds and assemble all the lands at South Mountain. The design of South Mountain was finalized by the Olmsted Brothers in stages over the years. A good deal of construction work — trails, footbridges, shelters, etc. — was carried out by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.
- Maplewood Farmers Market, located at Springfield Avenue at Indiana Street (Municipal Street Parking Lot), on summer and fall Mondays, 2 pm - 7 pm.
- The Strollers of Maplewood (Community theatre organization in operation since 1932).
- 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 Place.
Some restaurants include--
- Lorena's Restaurant (French), 168 Maplewood Ave # E, Maplewood
- Cent' Anni Restaurant (Italian), 5 Highland Place, Maplewood
- Verjus (French), 1790 Springfield Avenue, Maplewood
- Lukes Kitchen (American-New), 175 Maplewood Avenue, Maplewood
- Arturo's Wood Fired Pizzeria & Osteria (Pizza), 180 Maplewood Avenue, Maplewood
- Coda Kitchen & Bar, 177 Maplewood Ave, Maplewood
- Churrasco BBQ & Steakhouse (Mediterranean), 1844 Springfield Avenue, Maplewood
- Bill & Harry's (Chinese), 149 Maplewood Avenue, Maplewood
- Village Tratoria (Italian), 2 Inwood Place, Maplewood
- Samurai Sushi Japanese Restaurant, 166 Maplewood Avenue, Maplewood
Historically, when surveying the area now known as Maplewood, Robert Treat found several trails used by Lenape tribes of Algonquian Native Americans, though there was only sparse pre-European settlement. These paths form the basis for what are the town's main thoroughfares today.
The first European settlers arrived around 1675, primarily English, Dutch, and French Puritans 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 three separate communities that merged into Maplewood and South Orange.
Six families came up today’s Ridgewood Road and established scattered farms around a center that became Jefferson Village, named after Thomas Jefferson. This village, which roughly corresponds to downtown Maplewood today, developed several mills and orchards.
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. The area became known for its orchards and related industries, including cider mills and distilleries of rum, but also honey and some livestock.
In 1802, Jefferson Village and North Farms were named as districts under the Township of Newark.
The three communities operated independently, each establishing their own school associations:
--South Orange established the Columbian school in 1814, which would form the basis for today’s Columbia High School;
--North Farms established the North Farms Association in 1817; and
--Jefferson Village started the Jefferson Association in 1818.
When the Morris and Essex Railroad from Newark was extended to the area in 1838, a land speculator 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 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.
In 1868, farms began to be divided into parcels for residential housing. The 1920s saw significant growth in new residents and structures, foreshadowing a complete suburb.