The History of the Two Towns
One of the reasons that South Orange and Maplewood are both so picturesque is the historic homes and buildings that line the streets, which help outline the history of the two cities. You’ll find Tudor, Victorian, and Colonial homes complete with gas-lit lamps on street corners.
Founded nearly 400 years ago by settlers who bought the land from Native Americans in 1667, South Orange and Maplewood began as small towns rich in farmland until the 1800s, when they began to transition to more residential communities experiencing exponential growth in the early 1900s. Where before there were only 30 Puritan families settling in the area with a cluster of homes, a few shops, a blacksmith and a tavern, things began to develop with the addition of mills and railroads.
Both towns were incorporated in the late 1800s, and in the early 1900s the towns experienced major growth and lots of construction, including schools, homes, stores and more. This is why much of the architecture of both South Orange and Maplewood reflects the historic charm of this earlier period.
This charm combined with the introduction of mass transit for an easy commute into New York City in the latter part of the last century has fueled a rise in property values in the region.
During the late 1980s, residents began to worry about the shifting racial demographics of their community, and parents were expressing concerns about the school system. At this time, the Community Coalition on Race was formed (then called the Racial Balance Task Force).
Since its founding in 1996, the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race has helped to create a renaissance in the two towns, where people of all ethnicities and backgrounds are welcomed into a driven community of equals who are passionate about community involvement.