- For alternative places, see the disambiguation page for West Essex.
It is considered to be one of the more affluent parts of the county, as opposed to very poor eastern Essex cities such as Newark, East Orange, and Irvington. As opposed to these city settings, the towns in West Essex are more suburban. Most of the towns have typically been white ethnically, where Newark and its bordering cities all have black majorities. Many often use the "East Essex" vs "West Essex" argument to show the contrast between the two parts of the county, although this is generally considered to be a huge oversimplification of reality, as the county is no more than ten miles from the farthest point "west" to the farthest point "east" and there are several towns in the county that have much more of a cross-pollination of ethnic and racial groups than can be seen in many other places. For example, middle and upper class blacks often strive to (and do) move west out of Newark. Working class blacks often work in West Essex. On the other hand, given Newark's recent revitalization, many upper class whites who live in West Essex commute to corporations, such as Prudential, in Newark. West Essex also has substantial Hispanic and Asian populations. The towns that separate Newark and East Orange from the West Essex area, such as South Orange, Maplewood, West Orange, Bloomfield, and Montclair have a balance of black and white people, and of different classes, generally unseen in smalltown America.
Towns Typically Considered In West Essex
The above towns share much history and culture as having belonged to the Horseneck Tract. The towns of Caldwell and West Caldwell share a public school system with students in both towns attending James Caldwell High School in West Caldwell. The other four towns each have their own school district through sixth grade, however students from all four towns attend West Essex Regional Junior High School and West Essex High School, both in North Caldwell, from seventh through twelfth grade. West Essex and James Caldwell high schools are rival schools. The six towns also share a local newspaper, Caldwell's The Progress, and residents within each of the six towns think nothing of regularly traveling from town to town. Other services connect the six towns, for example the West Caldwell public pools allow residents from the other five towns to become members for a higher fee, the three Caldwells share a post office, and emergency dispatching for Essex Fells is performed by North Caldwell. Fairfield and West Caldwell share control over the Essex County Airport, which lies partially in both towns. Residents of Essex Fells, which has no commercial or industrial sectors, depend on strong commercial and industrial sectors from the other five towns.
- Verona and Cedar Grove, between West Essex and Montclair, are part of the West Essex region as well, as they belonged to the Horseneck Tract, though the two communities are generally much more independent to themselves than the six communities to their west.
- Livingston, West Orange, and the Upper Montclair section of Montclair are also sometimes—though far more rarely and not by many people in any Essex County town—considered to be part of West Essex. Their similarities to West Essex lie almost solely on the fact that small portions of all three towns were long ago part of the Horseneck tract that makes up present-day West Essex. Though the three towns border other West Essex towns, the majority of the towns, especially their downtown areas, developed as suburban offshoots of the city of Newark, not from Horseneck development in any major way. However, it is worth noting that Livingston's local newspaper is called the West Essex Tribune.
- Millburn and Short Hills (a hamlet of Millburn) lie to the south of Livingston which itself is south of mainstream West Essex. The town of Millburn, like Livingston, is geographically on the western border of Essex County. However, it is usually not considered by many to be part of "West Essex", which generally implies the northwestern area of Essex County that was originally known as Horseneck. The southwestern Essex County towns, like Livingston and Millburn, are generally considered to have developed as suburban Newark sprawl, as opposed to the Horseneck area which originally developed independently.