Orange is the smallest of “the Oranges” in Essex County, with about 35,000 residents in just over two square-miles. But the city packs a lot in with its interesting past, bright future and mix of housing options.
The state designation as a Transit Village has led to recent mixed-used development in the City of Orange – including luxury apartments – near its two NJ Transit train stations that are on the Morris-Essex line. Four City Brewing – just steps from the historic Orange Station – is in one of those new developments. The brewery and taproom, opened in 2019, revived a long tradition in the city, which was home to large breweries for about 75 years beginning in 1900.
State sales tax is cut in half for shoppers in the city’s downtown, which sits on the north site of Route I-280, as does the towering neo-Gothic St. John’s Roman Catholic Church on Ridge Street, dedicated in 1869 and designed by the same architect as the Sacred Heart Basilica in Newark. Word has it that Thomas Edison himself – whose workshop was nearby in West Orange – supervised the installation of the chandeliers in the early 20th Century.
Also on that side of town is the famed Star Tavern on High Street, an old-school family restaurant with the best thin-crust pizza on the planet. Orange also is home to several smaller family restaurants and take-out places that serve up Caribbean/West Indian and Latin-American cuisine, most near Main Street.
The Highland Avenue train station is on Scotland Road near the Valley Arts District, a formerly industrial area that has been reimagined by developments like Hat City Lofts – loft-styled condominiums in the F. Berg & Co hat factory building. In the late 19th century, Orange was the hat making capital of the United States. In fact the most enduring symbol of the “wild west”, the Stetson cowboy hat, was designed and manufactured by a man from Orange, New Jersey.
On its southside, Orange is home to pre-eminent residential neighborhood: Seven Oaks, developed mostly after World War I on the former Colgate Estate. Its tree-lined streets boast a varied collection of stately homes. Seven Oaks is home to the venerable Berkeley Tennis Club, which hosted some of the sports’ greats on its clay courts during the 20th Century. The neighborhood also features Essex County’s 48-acre Monte Irvin Orange Park, a Victorian era gem designed by the Olmstead Brothers (of Central Park fame). It features a lake, walking paths, basketball courts, a soccer field, and a summer concert series.
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