Madison is characterized by a wide selection of housing options, the cultural and academic influences of local universities, and a colorful local history. Located about 26 miles west of Manhattan, its picturesque downtown has over 50 buildings listed on the state and national registers of historic places.
Contributing to Madison's appeal is the fact that it's a livable, friendly and walkable community. Most downtown buildings offer retail space at the street level with residential units above. Many residents walk to shops, houses of worship, schools, parks and public transportation.
Drew University's tree-lined campus borders Madison, while the Madison-Florham Park Campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University, as well as the College of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station, are adjacent to town. A portion of Fairleigh Dickinson University is located on the former Madison estate of Florence Vanderbilt and Hamilton Twombly.
The Free Public Library of the Borough of Madison is widely regarded as one of the finest small public libraries in New Jersey. Known for its lively cultural offerings, Madison is home to the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Playwrights Theater of New Jersey and the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts.
European settlers arrived in present-day Madison during the British Colonial period of the early 1700s. They established the Bottle Hill settlement where Ridgedale Avenue and Kings Road meet. The circa 1730 Luke Miller house at 105 Ridgedale Avenue is said to be the oldest remaining home in town from that time period. By 1739, Madison was called South Hanover, and some of the first town meetings were held on the grounds of the Presbyterian Church between Kings Road and Madison Avenue, where the Presbyterian Cemetery still exists.
In 1834, the name of the village was changed to Madison for James Madison, the fourth United States President. Madison grew by leaps and bounds after the Civil War. The railroad provided good transportation for its farm produce in the 1800s, and also helped to establish the town's flourishing rose-growing industry, which is how Madison came to be known as "The Rose City," a nickname still used today.
The Morris and Essex rail lines became one of the country's first commuter railroads, attracting wealthy families and contributing to the development of "Millionaire's Row," a stretch of opulent mansions spanning from downtown Madison all the way to downtown Morristown.
Since Madison is bordered by the campuses of Drew University, Farleigh Dickenson University and The College of St. Elizabeth, it offers all the advantages of a college town. Its charming downtown is filled with diverse restaurants, entertainment venues and unique shops. The town has over 100 acres of parks and public spaces for a variety of recreational uses.
Madison is home to two of New Jersey's professional live theater companies designated by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts as "major arts institutions." The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, located at Drew University, is one of the leading Shakespeare theaters in the nation. Playwrights Theatre has been devoted to the development and presentation of stimulating new American plays for over two decades.
Town-wide festivals celebrate Madison's cultural, historic and ethnic richness. Chances are good that the calendar will contain an event such as a sidewalk sale, book sale, a YMCA bocce tournament, parades to celebrate Memorial Day, the Chamber of Commerce Holiday Walk, an Italian-heritage religious procession up North Street, annual favorites like Community Day at Drew University each September, the Bottle Hill Day street festival in October, or Le Bazar de Noel in early November at St. Vincent's School.
Major retailers are found in the east-end business district, beginning just beyond the downtown historic district at Prospect Street and Greenwood Avenue. These include supermarkets, car dealers, a video chain and café.
Giralda Farms is a planned office development occupying 175 acres of the former Geraldine R. Dodge estate in Madison. The development includes the corporate headquarters of Atlantic Mutual Insurance, Maersk Lines, Quest Diagnostics, Wyeth, and offices of Schering-Plough. Development regulations for the former estate require that 85% of the land be maintained as open space, with almost all vehicle parking underground.
Madison's public schools include three elementary schools, one middle school and a high school. The three elementary schools are Central Avenue School and Kings Road School, both housing kindergarten through grade six, and Torey J. Sabatini School for pre-kindergarten through grade six. Madison Junior School houses grades seven and eight, and Madison High School is for grades nine to twelve. The high school also serves the students from neighboring Harding Township, including parts of Green Village.
Saint Vincent Martyr School is a Catholic school serving students from pre-kindergarten through grade six. The school received the No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon award for 2005-2006.
New Jersey Transit's Madison station provides commuter service on the Morristown Line, with trains heading to Hoboken Terminal and to Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan. This rehabilitated station is fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
New Jersey Transit bus service is also available along Route 124/Main Street. In addition, Lakeland Bus provides limited commuter bus service between Madison and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City.
Madison is close to a network of highways including Routes 78, 287, 80 and 280, as well as by New Jersey Route 24. Newark Liberty International Airport is about 15 miles from Madison. Nearby Morristown Municipal Airport provides corporate and individual flight services.
Madison has a wide range of housing opportunities, from garden apartments and starter homes to move-up properties and luxury dwellings. Character-filled neighborhoods often feature parks, playgrounds, sidewalks and tree-lined streets, and the town council has limited the size of new homes built on smaller lots to retain the old-fashioned streetscapes.
Some of the older, more established neighborhoods in Madison showcase an eclectic collection of architectural styles. The town offers picturesque pre-Revolutionary War dwellings, Gilded Era mansions, Arts & Crafts bungalows, post World War II housing and neo-Colonial construction.
Home shoppers in Madison find that there are a variety of different neighborhoods to choose from. South of downtown is the Hill section which contains some of Madison's most expensive homes. To the southwest is the Orchard section, a close-knit enclave of longtime Madison residents, some of whom have expanded their homes with each new generation. The North Street area's larger properties provide a backdrop for attractive multi and single-family homes.
To the west, the Fairwoods section (bordered by Drew University and Fairleigh Dickinson University) was developed in the Arts & Crafts style in the early 1900s as the town's first planned development. In the 1950s, the Ardsleigh neighborhood of ranch style homes was created.
The Bottle Hill Historic District is west of the downtown and runs the length of Ridgedale Avenue. It offers some outstanding examples of American architecture ranging from the 1730s to the 1980s. The majority of homes west of this area were built after the 1950s.
There is a selection of condominiums and apartments for those who want to live closer to the center of town, or in one of Madison's planned communities.
Madison has 100-plus acres of parks, among them are Belleau Woods Park, Belleau Avenue; Central Green Park, Hamilton Street and Greenwood Avenue; Cole Park; Delbarton Park, Delbarton Drive; Dodge Field, Central and Greenwood Avenue; Edwards Field, Kinney Street; Gibbons Pine Park, Gibbons Place; Green Village Road School Field, Kings Road; James Park, Madison and Park Avenue; Memorial Park, Rosedale Avenue; Lucy D. Anthony Fields, Myrtle Avenue and East Street; Madison Park, Anthony Drive and Wayne; Niles Park, Garfield and Woodland Avenues; Parkside Park on Rosedale; Ridgedale Park, Canterbury Road and Buckingham Drive; Rose Garden Park, Green Avenue and Kings Road; and Summer Hill Park, between Ridgedale and Central Avenues.
The Morris County Traction Line runs parallel to the New Jersey Transit train line extending from Danforth Road, near Fairleigh Dickinson, to Morristown. In the 1990s, this abandoned trolley line was converted to a walking, running, rollerblade and biking facility and includes historical interpretative signage along its route.
A variety of bicycle routes connect schools, parks and activity centers, including the Madison Train Station. Bike racks are available at both ends of the station.
Madison has convenient bike trail access to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Two bicycle loop tours are available, as well as a three-mile side trip to Jockey Hollow to see the encampment of log huts used in the winter of 1779-80 by the Continental Army.
Museum of Early Trades and Crafts is a landmark in downtown Madison devoted to telling the story of how people in New Jersey lived and worked before the rise of large-scale industrialization in America. A museum rich in architecture, folklore and history, it brings the 18th and 19th centuries to life.
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is one of the leading Shakespeare theaters in the nation, and New Jersey's only professional theater company dedicated to Shakespeare's works. The Mainstage is at F.M. Kirby Theatre, 36 Madison Avenue, on the Drew University campus.
Playwrights Theatre at 33 Green Village Road is a professional theater devoted to the development and production of new American plays. The theatre also provides writing programs for children and adults.
Fun Fact #1: Founded in 1939 by Geraldine R. Dodge, St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center at 575 Woodland Ave serves animals and people with a wide variety of programs that nurture the human-animal bond, fostering an environment in which people respect all living creatures. Many innovative programs for animals and people serve as models for other organizations across the country.
Size: 4.2 square miles.
Established: Incorporated in 1889
2000 Census Population: 15,460
Location: Morris County
Distance from New York City: About 30 miles
Distance from Newark: About 16 miles
Distance from Philadelphia: About 90 miles
Parks: Over 100 acres of parks are found throughout Madison.
Local Sites/Attractions: Drew University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, The Museum of Early Trades and Crafts, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Playwrights Theatre.
Mass Transportation: New Jersey Transit train station in Madison offers service to midtown Manhattan or Hoboken, New Jersey Transit has local bus routes and Lakeland Bus has commuter service to Manhattan.
Housing: Antique homes, pre-Revolutionary era homes, center hall Colonials, luxury real estate, Victorians, Gilded Era mansions, estate properties, Arts & Crafts bungalows, cottages, condominiums, garden apartments, multi-family homes, ranch style homes, modern, contemporary and a variety of other architectural styles.
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