New York Times: The Love for One Orange
With its perfect blend of urban and suburban, gorgeous architecture, historic gas lamps dotting the landscape, and one of the best commutes to NY Penn Station, South Orange village (pop. ~16,000) is a highly desirable suburb. The downtown train station has been transformed into a transit village, with many shops, restaurants, and the requisite Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. SOPAC, the South Orange Performing Arts Center, is in full swing presenting nationally acclaimed musical artists, plus a Clearview Cinemaplex with five screens. Ashley Market offers great produce and an impressive bakery, deli, cheese counter, plus Freeman’s Fish Market has its own section. In the summertime you can enjoy concerts at Floods Hill and in the wintertime it becomes one of the best hills for sledding. South Orange is also home to Seton Hall University.
South Orange and Maplewood are sister towns and share a school district as well as several municipal services. There are three libraries in the two towns – plus a borrowing agreement with universities and other libraries. Both towns have community pools, public and private tennis courts, basketball courts, and numerous playgrounds. In the summer, two Farmer’s Markets, one on Springfield Avenue in Maplewood, the other in the train station parking lot in South Orange, offer the best of NJ’s fresh produce and flowers. Several great restaurants in town include Boccone South for incredible Italian food, Jackie & Sons and Grid Iron Waffle Shop for breakfast and lunch, Falafelly Yours for middle eastern and Moroccan favorites, and Toro Loco for excellent margaritas and Mexican Food.
The housing stock in South Orange varies from neighborhood to neighborhood. From downtown condos to Tuxedo Park, to Historic Montrose, to Wyoming, upper Wyoming, and Newstead, South Orange offers homes from $300K to roughly $2M. With cottages, colonials, modern splits and ranches, and the grandest tudors and victorians, South Orange has something for everyone. There are several newer condominium rentals being built as well. South Orange has jitney service with jitney stops that run in the morning and rush hour and early evening to and from the South Orange Train Station. South Orange (along with parts of Maplewood, Short Hills and West Orange) shares Essex County’s largest park, South Mountain Reservation, which is 2,110-acres of trails, ecology, and natural beauty. Numerous trails and overlooks offer inspiring scenery such as incredible views of New York City and a dramatic 25-foot waterfall at Hemlock Falls. The South Mountain Dog Park in Essex County South Mountain Reservation opened July 2006. The two-acre facility is divided into two sections – 1.3 acres for large dogs and 0.7 acres for small dogs. Both areas have a crushed stoned and compacted stone dust surface, dual drinking fountains, park benches, agility equipment for the dogs, a wash and spray area, “time out” areas for dogs, and DogiPot stations. The entrance to the Dog Park contains a memorial to honor emergency service dogs that lost their lives on September 11, 2001.