East Orange City Hall is located at 44 City Hall Plaza, East Orange, NJ 07017.
Transportation has always played a significant role in the formation and daily life for the residents of East Orange. Its central location in northern New Jersey between rural farmland and mines and the urban areas of New Jersey and New York City made it a popular destination for commerce and living. In the late 19th and early 20th century, three rail lines ran through East Orange—what is now the Morris&Essex line, with stops at Brick Church and East Orange Train Stations; the present day Montclair-Boonton line with a stop at the former Ampere Station; and the now abandoned Watchung Railway, which ran east-west through the City a long right-of-way just south of Dodd Street between West Orange terminating near Llewellyn Park in West Orange. As a result of this easy access to the urban core, people moved to East Orange to escape the conditions of the cities, and lived in houses, estates, and apartments along the City's tree-lined streets. East Orange truly was where the city met the suburbs.
Like the history for most places in the 20th century, the manufacturing of the automobile resulted in a major change in how people traveled to work, where they could go for shopping and entertainment, and space needed for parking. In a city where homes were developed for people who walked to work, or took a train, accommodating the car created new challenges for the City's historic neighborhoods that are still a challenge today. As the automobile moved from a vehicle of weekend leisure to the primary mode of travel, the Federal government and states built highways to enable more regional travel, cutting through cities like a knife and enabling regional sprawl.
Two such roadways that sprung up in the middle of the 20th centuries were I-280 and the Garden State Parkway. These two highways cut through the heart of East Orange, creating disconnected quadrants of the city, isolating established neighborhoods, and creating new physical and psychological barriers to the City's important civic, cultural, and commerce centers. This effect was further exacerbated by the development of Freeway Drive, a service roadway on either side of I-280, that widened the chasm between the northern part of East Orange and its southern neighborhoods. The pervasive effect of these projects still has consequences today, and other decisions like the disinvestment and eventual demolishment of Ampere Train Station near the City's east side contributed to East Orange's mid-to-late 20th century decline.
Today, East Orange's location within the region and transportation network has attracted new interest in the City. The two remaining train stations, East Orange and Brick Church, provide an opportunity to get to New York Penn Station in less than half an hour. As a result, the City is experiencing new investment in the form of transit-oriented development where Millennials and Baby Boomers are occupying multi-family high rises at more affordable prices. With access back to New York City, people are moving from Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx into East Orange, where they can enjoy a suburban lifestyle in a vibrant city.
As the City's demographics and transportation needs have changed in the current century, new strategies are required to ensure its residents have excellent mobility and accessibility opportunities to employment and education, shopping, entertainment, and essential services. A promotion of quality public transportation services and facilities, a commitment to making East Orange safe and attractive for pedestrians and bicyclists, and a renewed focus to mend the wounds created by the 20th century highway construction are critical strategies to improving the quality of life within East Orange.
CIty of East Orange Master Plan, 2018, www.eastorange-nj.gov, accessed June, 2022.
Nearby Towns: Bloomfield Twp • Clifton City • Elizabeth City • Glen Ridge Boro • Hillside Twp • Kenilworth Boro • Montclair Twp • Newark City • Nutley Twp • Passaic City • Township of South Orange Vlg • Verona Township • West Orange Twp •