History of Glen Ridge

History

Glen Ridge traces its beginning to 1666 when 64 Connecticut families led by Robert Treat bought land from the Lenni Lenape Native Americans and named it New Ark to reflect a covenant to worship freely without persecution. The territory included the future towns of BloomfieldMontclairBelleville and Nutley. When Bloomfield was established in 1812, Glen Ridge was a section “on the hill” composed mostly of farms and woodlands with the exception of a thriving industrial area along Toney’s Brook in the glen.[29] For most of the nineteenth century, three water-powered mills produced lumber, calico, pasteboard boxes and brass fittings. A copper mine and a sandstone quarry were nearby.

With the arrival of the Newark and Bloomfield Railroad in 1856 and the construction of the Glen Ridge station and the New York and Greenwood Lake Railway station at today’s Benson Street in 1872, Glen Ridge began its transition to a suburban residential community. Stately homes slowly replaced orchards and wooded fields.

Mountainside Hospital, a local hospital with more than 300 beds now known as HackensackUMC Mountainside, was founded in 1891.[30] The Glen Ridge Country Club was founded in 1894, making it one of the state’s oldest clubs.[31]

Residents “on the hill” became unhappy with their representation on the Bloomfield Council. In spite of repeated requests to Bloomfield officials, roads remained unpaved, water and sewer systems were nonexistent, and schools were miles away. Area residents marked out the boundaries of a 1.45-square-mile (3.8 km2) area to secede from the adjoining town. At the election held on February 12, 1895, the decision to secede passed by only 23 votes. Robert Rudd was elected the first mayor of Glen Ridge.[32]

In 1989, athletes from the high school were involved in the sexual assault of a mentally handicapped student. Three teenagers were found guilty of first-degree aggravated sexual assault; a fourth was convicted of third-degree conspiracy.[33] Author Bernard Lefkowitz wrote about the incident in the 1997 book Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb.[34] Lefkowitz’s book was adapted into the 1999 TV movie Our Guys: Outrage at Glen Ridge.[35]

Education

Ridgewood Avenue school

The Glen Ridge Public Schools serve students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2014-15 school year, the district and its four schools had an enrollment of 1,853 students and 141.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 13.1:1.[95] Schools in the district (with 2014-15 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics[96]) are Forest Avenue School[97] (217 students in grades K-2), Linden Avenue School[98] (226; K-2), Ridgewood Avenue School[99] (585; 3-6) and Glen Ridge High School[100] (824; 7-12).[101][102]

The high school was the 12th-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 328 schools statewide in New Jersey Monthly magazine’s September 2012 cover story on the state’s “Top Public High Schools”, after being ranked 4th in 2010 out of 322 schools listed.[103]

Transportation

Roads and highways

As of May 2010, the borough had a total of 23.29 miles (37.48 km) of roadways, of which 18.19 miles (29.27 km) were maintained by the municipality and 5.10 miles (8.21 km) by Essex County.[110]

Glen Ridge is located conveniently in an area where various modes of transportation exist. Approximately half of the residents in Glen Ridge own two or more cars[105] which allows them to access the New Jersey TurnpikeNewark Airport, the George Washington Bridge, and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels through major roads such as Interstate 80Interstate 280, the Garden State ParkwayU.S. Route 46Route 3 and Route 21.

Public transportation

NJ Transit provides bus service to Newark on the 1128 and 29.[111] Buses from DeCamp Bus Lines run to and from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan.

Commuters can also take trains from the Glen Ridge station[112] (formerly named Ridgewood Avenue), where NJ Transit provides service to Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan and to Hoboken Terminal via the Montclair-Boonton Line.[113]

The town has a jitney service which provides transportation to and from the Glen Ridge Station for commuters. This service has a fee and is only available between certain hours in the day.[114] The Freeman Parkway Bridge crosses over the railroad.

Glen Ridge traces its beginning to 1666 when sixty-four Connecticut families led by Robert Treat bought land from the Lennilenape Indians and named it New Ark to reflect a covenant to worship freely without persecution.

The territory included the future towns of Bloomfield, Montclair, Belleville, and Nutley. When Bloomfield seceded in 1812, Glen Ridge was a section “on the hill” composed mostly of farms and woodlands with the exception of a thriving industrial area along the Toney’s brook in the Glen.

For most of the nineteenth century, three water-powered mills produced lumber, calico, pasteboard boxes and brass fittings. A copper mine and a sandstone quarry were nearby.

With the arrival of the Newark and Bloomfield Railroad in 1856 and the New York, Montclair and Greenwood Lake Railroad in 1872, Glen Ridge began its transition to a suburban residential community. Stately homes slowly replaced orchards and wooded fields.

Residents “on the hill” became unhappy with their representation on the Bloomfield Council. In spite of repeated requests to Bloomfield officials, roads remained unpaved, water and sewer systems were nonexistent, and schools were miles away.

In 1895, the stage was set for secession by several men on the third floor of the Robert Rudd’s home on Ridgewood Avenue. They marked out the boundaries of a 1.45 square mile area to secede from the adjoining town. At the February 12, 1895 election, the decision to secede passed by only twenty-three votes. Robert Rudd was elected the first mayor of Glen Ridge.

Architecture

 

In 1895, the Borough of Glen Ridge was chartered as an independent town and was one of the first communities to utilize a professional town planner.

As a by-product of that planning, older portions of the Borough possess a museum quality having all the necessary elements of late Victorian and Edwardian “townscape”.

In addition, three actions were taken which influenced the orderly development of Glen Ridge and resulted in a high quality of construction:

  • The adoption of a building code
  • The establishment of a Building Department with a Building Inspector
  • The enactment of a zoning ordinance, one of the first in the state

Glen Ridge began and grew to maturity during a period in which eclecticism was the predominant influence in American architecture. Homes here reflect all the major architectural styles from the mid-nineteenth century on.

The earliest were simple farmhouses, which have since been altered and/or enlarged. As the nineteenth century progressed, the towers and turrets of the “Carpenter Gothic” appeared as well as the stone and half-timbered wood and stucco manor houses of the Medieval. The High Victorian period gave Glen Ridge Italianate “villas” with bracketed eaves and some Second Empire mansard roofs and arched dormers. The “Queen Anne Cottage” and the “shingle style” are represented here and by the mid-1890’s there was a surge of interest in the American Georgian of early Federal style.

Glen Ridge’s architectural legacy includes buildings of outstanding design quality for their time, and famous architects have had their hands in the creation of this legacy. The most notable is the contemporary home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Three homes of an earlier generation are attributed to Stanford White and one Georgian home is the work of John Russell Pope.

In order to protect the architectural assets of the community, the Mayor and Council have created a Historic Preservation Commission. Construction which takes place in the Historic District and is visible from the street must be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission. For more information, call the Building Department at 973-748-8444.