South Orange, New Jersey
|South Orange, New Jersey|
|Township of South Orange Village|
South Orange in 2011
Map of South Orange Village in Essex County. Inset; Location of Essex County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of South Orange, New Jersey
|Coordinates: Coordinates: |
|Incorporated||May 4, 1869|
|• Type||Special Charter|
|• Body||Board of Trustees|
|• Village President||Sheena Collum (term ends May 16, 2019)|
|• Administrator||Barry R. Lewis, Jr.|
|• Clerk||Susan Caljean|
|• Total||2.857 sq mi (7.401 km2)|
|• Land||2.855 sq mi (7.395 km2)|
|• Water||0.002 sq mi (0.006 km2) 0.08%|
|Area rank||346th of 566 in state
17th of 22 in county
|Elevation||144 ft (44 m)|
|Population (2010 Census)|
|• Estimate (2014)||16,362|
|• Rank||156th of 566 in state
13th of 22 in county
|• Density||5,672.8/sq mi (2,190.3/km2)|
|• Density rank||91st of 566 in state
12th of 22 in county
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0880741|
South Orange is a township in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the village's population was 16,198, reflecting a decline of 766 (-4.5%) from the 16,964 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 574 (+3.5%) from the 16,390 counted in the 1990 Census. Seton Hall University is located in the township.
"The time and circumstances under which the name South Orange originated will probably never be known," wrote historian William H. Shaw in 1884, "and we are obliged to fall back on a tradition, that Mr. Nathan Squier first used the name in an advertisement offering wood for sale" in 1795. Other sources attribute the derivation for all of The Oranges to King William III, Prince of Orange.
South Orange Village dates back to May 4, 1869, when it was formed within South Orange Township (now Maplewood). On March 4, 1904, the Village of South Orange was created by an act of the New Jersey Legislature and separated from South Orange Township. In 1981, the name was changed to "The Township of South Orange Village" to take advantage of federal revenue sharing policies. The change was intended to allow South Orange to qualify for a pool of federal aid allocated to municipalities that allowed townships to receive as much as double the revenue-sharing aid per capita received by the four other types of New Jersey municipalities — borough, city, town or village.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Parks and recreation
- 5 Arts and culture
- 6 Government
- 7 Education
- 8 Transportation
- 9 Local media
- 10 Community information
- 11 Notable people
- 12 References
- 13 External links
What is now South Orange was part of a territory purchased from the Lenape Native Americans in 1666 by Robert Treat, who founded Newark that year on the banks of the Passaic River. The unsettled areas north and west of Newark were at first referred to as the uplands. South Orange was called the Chestnut Hills for a time.
There are two claimants to the first English settlement in present-day South Orange. In 1677 brothers Joseph and Thomas Brown began clearing land for a farm in the area northwest of the junction of two old trails that are now South Orange Avenue and Ridgewood Road. A survey made in 1686 states, "note this Land hath a House on it, built by Joseph Brown and Thomas Brown, either of them having an equal share of it" located at the present southwest corner of Tillou Road and Ridgewood Road. Minutes of a Newark town meeting of September 27, 1680, record that "Nathaniel Wheeler, Edward Riggs, and Joseph Riggs, have a Grant to take up Land upon the Chesnut Hill by Raway River near the Stone House". The phrasing shows that a stone house already existed near (not on) the property. Joseph Riggs (seemingly the son of Edward Riggs) had a house just south of the Browns' house, at the northwest corner of South Orange Avenue and Ridgewood Road, according to a road survey of 1705. The same road survey locates Edward Riggs's residence near Millburn and Nathaniel Wheeler's residence in modern West Orange at the corner of Valley Road and Main Street.
Wheeler's property in South Orange extended east of the Rahway River including the site of an old house now known as the "Stone House", standing on the north side of South Orange Avenue just to the west of Grove Park. By 1756 or earlier this property was owned by Samuel Pierson. A survey of adjoining property in 1767 mentions "Pierson's house" forming accidentally the earliest documentation of a house on the property, which may be much older. Bethuel Pierson, son of Samuel, lived in this house and when he inherited it in 1773/74 he was said to live "at the mountain plantation by a certain brook called Stone House Brook." Sometime during his ownership (he died in 1791) "Bethuel Pierson had a stone addition added to his dwelling-house, which he caused to be dedicated by religious ceremonies". This would appear to be the stone-walled portion of the "Stone House". Stone House Brook runs west along the north side of the east-west road, past the "Stone House" and joining the Rahway River at about the location of the Brown and Riggs houses already noted. The oldest parts of the Pierson house are the oldest surviving structure in South Orange.
A deed of 1800 locates a property as being in "the Township of Newark, in the Parish of Orange, at a place called South Orange", marking the end of the name Chestnut Hills. Orange had been named after the ruler of England, William of Orange. Most of modern South Orange became part of Orange Township in 1806, part of Clinton Township in 1834, and part of South Orange Township in 1861. Gordon's Gazetteer circa 1830 describes the settlement as having "about 30 dwellings, a tavern and store, a paper mill and Presbyterian church".
A country resort called the Orange Mountain House was established in 1847 just north of town. Guests could enjoy the "water cure" from natural spring water and walk in the grounds that extended up the slope of South Mountain. The main house was right on Ridgewood Road. The hotel burned down in 1890. The only remnants today are the names of Mountain Station and the Mountain House Road leading west from it to the site of the hotel.
South Orange could be reached by the Morris and Essex Railroad which opened in 1837 between Newark and Morristown. As of 1869, the M&E became part of the main line of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad which ran from Hoboken to Buffalo with through trains to Chicago.
The Montrose neighborhood was developed after the Civil War. Its large houses on generous lots attracted wealthy families from Newark and New York City during the decades from 1870 to 1900. The Orange Lawn Tennis Club was founded in 1880 at a location in Montrose, and in 1886 it was the location of the first US national tennis championships. The club moved to larger grounds on Ridgewood Road in 1916. Major tournament events were held at the club throughout the grass court era, and even into the mid-1980s professional events would occasionally be held there.
What is now the Baird Community House was up until about 1920 the clubhouse for a golf course that encompassed what is now Meadowlands Park. Until regrading was performed during the 1970s, the outline of one of the course's sandtraps was still visible near the base of Flood's Hill, a spot that has historically been one of the favorite sleigh riding spots in Essex County.
The construction of Village Hall in 1894 and the "old" library building in 1896 indicate how the village was growing by that date. Horsecar service from Newark started in 1865, running via South Orange Avenue to the station. Electric trolley cars began running the line in 1893 and by about 1900 a branch of this line also ran down Valley Street into Maplewood. Another separate trolley line, eventually dubbed the "Swamp Line", ran from the west side of the station north through what is now park land and along Meadowbrook Lane into West Orange where it ended at Main St. An old postcard photo shows a station shelter at Montrose Ave. The DL&W rebuilt the railroad through town in 1914-1916, raising the tracks above street level and opening new station buildings at South Orange and Mountain Station. In September 1930, a frail Thomas Edison (he would die about a year later) inaugurated electric train service on the M&E between Hoboken and South Orange, with further extensions of service to Morristown and Dover being initiated over the coming months.
The South Orange Library Association was organized by William Beebe, president of the Republican Club, where on November 14, 1864, a group of men and women met. Books were donated and the library was established in a corner room on the second floor of the Republican Club where it remained until 1867 when it was moved to a second floor room of the building next door on South Orange Avenue, near Sloan Street. It stayed there until 1884, when the building, with the library still on its second floor, was moved by horses up South Orange Avenue to the northwest corner of Scotland Road. Although supported as yet only by members' dues and a few gifts of money which were put into an endowment fund, in 1886 a new association was formed to establish a free circulating library and reading room which took over the loan books and other property of the old association. It was during this period, before Village Hall was built, that Village Trustees met in the Library's room. On May 1, 1889, the library was moved to a ground floor space at 59 South Orange Avenue.
At an annual meeting in 1895, Library Trustees considered the question of obtaining a library building and Eugene V. Connett's offer of a library site on the corner of Scotland Road and Taylor Place, with condition that $7,500 be subscribed, was accepted and the subscription was met. On May 8, 1896, the library was moved into the building on that corner. A referendum held on April 27, 1926, showed that citizens had voted ten to one in favor of the town taking over full support of the library. It thereupon became "The South Orange Public Library." In February, 1929, the Village Trustees passed an ordinance providing funds to construct a rear wing on the library and to provide a Children's Room in the basement, book stacks and a balcony on the floor above, together with rehabilitation work on the older part of the building. In November 1968, the new library building on the corner of Scotland Road and Comstock Place was dedicated.
Good transportation and a booming economy caused South Orange and neighboring towns to begin a major transformation in the 1920s into bedroom communities for Newark and New York City. Large houses were built in the blocks around the Orange Lawn Tennis club, while in other areas, especially south of South Orange Avenue, more modest foursquare houses were constructed. The only large area not developed by 1930 was the high ground west of Wyoming Avenue.
There were two rock quarries within the village supplying trap rock for construction. Kernan's operated as late as the 1980s at the top of Tillou Road. The town's other larger businesses were lumber and coal yards clustered around the railroad station that supplied them. The town's business district is still located in the blocks just east of the station.
The old Morris and Essex Railroad is operated today by NJ Transit. Midtown Direct, initiated in 1996, offers service directly into Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan, and has since caused a surge in real estate prices as the commute time to midtown dropped from about 50 minutes to 35, as the service eliminated the need for passengers to transfer to PATH trains at Hoboken. As a result, demand for commuter parking permits in lots adjoining the train and bus stations is extremely high, with a waiting list as long as five years for commuter parking spots.
South Orange has a number of places listed on the State and National Historic Registers.
- Old Stone House by the Stone House Brook (ID#1364), 219 South Orange Avenue - First mentioned in a document in 1680, the house has been owned by the township which has sought to sell it to ensure that it will be restored.
- Baird Community Center (ID#3146), 5 Mead Street - The Baird offers arts programs, including the Pierro Gallery of South Orange and The Theater on 3, along with preschool and other educational programming.
- Chapel of the Immaculate Conception (ID#4121), 400 South Orange Avenue, dates back to Seton Hall's move to South Orange and serves as the center focus of its campus.
- Eugene V. Kelly Carriage House (Father Vincent Monella Art Center) (ID#1360), Seton Hall University, South Orange Avenue
- Montrose Park Historic District (ID#3147), roughly bounded by South Orange Avenue, Holland Road, the City of Orange boundary and the NJ Transit railroad right-of-way
- Mountain Station Railroad Station (ID#1361), 449 Vose Avenue
- Old Main Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Historic District (ID#3525), Morris and Essex Railroad Right-of-Way (NJ Transit Morristown Line), from Hudson, Hoboken City to Warren, Washington Township, and then along Warren Railroad to the Delaware River.
- Prospect Street Historic District (ID#4), bounded by South Orange Avenue on the north, Tichenor Avenue on the east, Roland Avenue on the south and railroad track on the west
- South Orange Fire Department (ID#41), First Avenue and Sloan Avenue
- South Orange Railroad Station (ID#1362), 19 Sloan Street
- South Orange Village Hall (ID#1363), constructed in 1894 at the corner of South Orange Avenue and Scotland Road
- Temple Sharey Tefilo Israel (ID#78), 432 Scotland Road
The town is one of only a few in New Jersey to retain gas light street illumination (others include Riverton, Palmyra and Glen Ridge). The gaslight, together with the distinctive Village Hall, has long been the symbol of South Orange. Many of the major roads in town do have modern mercury vapor streetlights (built into gaslight frames), but most of the residential sections of the town are still gaslit. A proposal to replace all the gaslights in town with electric streetlights was explored as both a cost-saving and security measure during the 1970s. And although the changeover to electric was rejected at the time, the light output of the lamps was increased to provide more adequate lighting. There have been claims that South Orange has more operating gaslights than any other community in the United States.
Architecture is extremely varied. Most of the town is single-family wood-framed houses, but there are a few apartment buildings from various eras as well as townhouse-style condominiums of mostly more recent vintage. Houses cover a range that includes every common style of the Mid-Atlantic United States since the late nineteenth century, and in sizes that range from brick English Cottages to giant Mansard-roofed mansions. Tudor, Victorian, Colonial, Ranch, Modern, and many others are all to be found. Most municipal government structures date from the 1920s, with a few being of more modern construction.
Many residents commute to New York City, but others work locally or in other parts of New Jersey. South Orange has a central business district with restaurants, banks, and other retail and professional services. There are a few small office buildings, but no large-scale enterprise other than Seton Hall University.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 2.857 square miles (7.401 km2), including 2.855 square miles (7.395 km2) of land and 0.002 square miles (0.006 km2) of water (0.08%).
The East Branch of the Rahway River, which originates in West Orange, flows through the entire length of the township. Most of the time it is a trickle but flows can be heavy after rain. In the past it would occasionally overflow its banks and flood low-lying parts of town an issue that was addressed by United States Army Corps of Engineers flood control projects that remediated the problem in the mid-1970s.
The western part of the town sits on the eastern slope of South Mountain (elevation <660 feet (201 m)), leveling into a small valley near the central business district. At the top of the slope, the western edge of the town runs along the eastern border of South Mountain Reservation. South Orange contains the historic Montrose district, Newstead, Tuxedo Park, and Wyoming sections. Seton Hall University is located in the southeast quadrant of the township.
|Climate data for South Orange|
|Average high °F (°C)||36
|Average low °F (°C)||19
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||4.10
|Population sources: 1880-1920
1930-1990 2000 2010
At the 2010 United States Census, there were 16,198 people, 5,516 households, and 3,756 families residing in the township. The population density was 5,672.8 per square mile (2,190.3/km2). There were 5,815 housing units at an average density of 2,036.5 per square mile (786.3/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 60.19% (9,750) White, 28.66% (4,642) Black or African American, 0.14% (23) Native American, 5.16% (836) Asian, 0.01% (1) Pacific Islander, 1.77% (287) from other races, and 4.07% (659) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 6.13% (993) of the population.
There were 5,516 households, of which 35.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.1% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.9% were non-families. 24.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.24.
In the township, 22.9% of the population were under the age of 18, 15.2% from 18 to 24, 24.2% from 25 to 44, 27.2% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37.2 years. For every 100 females there were 93.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.4 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $123,373 (with a margin of error of +/- $7,803) and the median family income was $147,532 (+/- $9,218). Males had a median income of $86,122 (+/- $7,340) versus $71,625 (+/- $9,896) for females. The per capita income for the township was $49,607 (+/- $4,022). About 2.5% of families and 7.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.4% of those under age 18 and 4.5% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 United States Census there were 16,964 people, 5,522 households, and 3,766 families residing in the township. The population density was 5,945.3 people per square mile (2,298.2/km2). There were 5,671 housing units at an average density of 1,987.5 per square mile (768.3/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 60.41% White, 31.30% African American, 0.09% Native American, 3.89% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.57% from other races, and 2.71% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.93% of the population.
There were 5,522 households out of which 33.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.2% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.8% were non-families. 25.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.26.
In the township the population was spread out with 22.3% under the age of 18, 17.5% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 11.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 92.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.1 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $83,611, and the median income for a family was $107,641. Males had a median income of $61,809 versus $42,238 for females. The per capita income for the township was $41,035. About 1.9% of families and 5.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.6% of those under age 18 and 5.4% of those age 65 or over.
Parks and recreation
The township has a municipal swimming pool open to all residents. In most area communities, municipal pool memberships are restricted or costly, but the pool in South Orange was built on land willed by a wealthy resident to the town for common use and under the terms of the deal the pool had to remain inexpensive for the residents, who may purchase a Photo I.D. badge for an annual fee of $35, which provides access to the South Orange Community Pool and full access to other community facilities and programs; non-residents may use the pool for a small fee on a per visit basis on a guest pass that must be purchased by a resident. The original pool, built in the 1920s, is among the first free community pool to be built in the United States, and was replaced by an Olympic-size pool in 1972.
Arts and culture
The Baird, located in Meadowland Park, is the center for the South Orange Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs, housing the department's administrative offices. Most of the department's programs are housed in The Baird or in adjoining Meadowland Park. The center offers arts programs, including the Pierro Gallery of South Orange, The Theater on 3, and other arts spaces, along with preschool and other educational, arts and recreational programming. The Baird hosts events together with SOPAC, including the long-running Giants of Jazz concert series.
The Pierro Gallery of South Orange, located within The Baird and operating as part of the South Orange Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs, encourages community involvement in the visual arts and exhibits the non-commercial works of contemporary artists working in the field, in addition to providing arts education and serving local artists. Exhibitions often include the work of area artists, with a juried "Essex Exposed" exhibition conducted twice each year offering materials created by artists from Essex County.
South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) is located at 1 SOPAC Way, located next to the South Orange station. The performance venue is a 415-seat proscenium theater, with a five-screen Clearview Cinemas movie theater, and a dance studio/rental space in the same complex.
SOPAC presents music, family, dance, theater, and comedy programs throughout the year. Artists and companies who have performed at SOPAC include Paquito D'Rivera, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Olympia Dukakis, Richie Havens, Yo-Yo Ma, James Marsters, Eddie Palmieri, Madeleine Peyroux, Paula Poundstone, Anoushka Shankar, Phoebe Snow, Angie Stone, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Dionne Warwick, and Nancy Wilson. In partnership with Seton Hall University, SOPAC has presented Seton Hall Arts Council events, including a Classical Concert Series, Jazz 'n the Hall, and Seton Hall Theatre—student theater productions.
The plans for SOPAC were first conceived in the mid-1990s as part of an effort by the village to develop the downtown area. Seton Hall University partnered with SOPAC and construction in August 2004. The complex opened in November 2006 to the general public, with Paula Poundstone performing at the opening and cellist Yo-Yo Ma performing later that month.
Founded in 1949, the South Orange Symphony is a full-sized symphony orchestra made up of volunteer amateur and semi-professional musicians with a wide range of musical backgrounds led by a professional conductor. The ensemble plays repertoire that covers the full range of classical literature from the 18th century to today, and presents three free concerts each year in Sterling Hall at the South Orange Middle School.
South Orange provides the usual facilities for a municipality of this size; fire, police, a library of over 90,000 volumes, a municipal pool, a recreation center, parks, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, trash and yard waste removal provided by contractors, Public, educational, and government access (PEG) cable TV, among others. As noted above, the school board is shared with adjacent Maplewood.
South Orange is governed under a Special Charter granted by the New Jersey Legislature by a six-member board of trustees and a village president (equivalent to a mayor), all unpaid positions. Trustees are elected in nonpartisan elections on an at-large basis to staggered four-year terms of office with three trustee seats up for election every two years. Local political parties are formed on an ad-hoc basis, generally focused on key issues of local concern; national political parties do not officially participate in township elections.
As of May 2015[update], the Village President of South Orange is Sheena Collum, whose term of office ends in May 16, 2019. Members of the Board of Trustees are Walter Clarke (2017), Deborah Davis Ford (2019), Howard Levison (2019), Mark Rosner (2019) and Steve Schnall (2017), with the seat vacated by Sheena Collum expiring 2017 vacant after she took office as Village President.
In the May 2015 municipal election, Sheena Collum was elected as Village President, making her the first woman to serve in the position, while Deborah Davis Ford, Howard Levison and Mark Rosner ran unopposed and won new terms of office on the Board of Trustees.
With three incumbents not running for re-election in the May 2013 election, the slate of Walter Clarke, Sheena Collum and Stephen Schnall running together as South Orange 2013 were elected to four-year terms, with the support of Village President Alex Torpey.
In the municipal election held in May 2011, with fewer than 10% of the registered voters casting ballots, 23-year-old Alex Torpey was elected as the youngest Village President in the history of South Orange by a margin of 14 votes, while trustees Deborah Davis Ford, Howard Levison and Mark Rosner were re-elected to four-year terms of office, having run unopposed. In the 2009 elections with two incumbents not running for re-election, Michael Goldberg was elected to another four-year term, along with newcomers Janine Bauer and Nancy Gould, by a nearly 2-1 margin.
Federal, state and county representation
South Orange is located in the 10th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 27th state legislative district. Prior to the 2010 Census, South Orange had been split between the 8th Congressional District and the 10th Congressional District, a change made by the New Jersey Redistricting Commission that took effect in January 2013, based on the results of the November 2012 general elections.
New Jersey's Tenth Congressional District is represented by Donald Payne, Jr. (D, Newark). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Cory Booker (D, Newark, term ends 2021) and Bob Menendez (D, Paramus, 2019).
For the 2014-2015 Session, the 27th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Richard Codey (D, Roseland) and in the General Assembly by Mila Jasey (D, South Orange) and John F. McKeon (D, West Orange). The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham Township). The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach).
Essex County is governed by a directly-elected County Executive, with legislative functions performed by the Board of Chosen Freeholders. As of 2014[update], the County Executive is Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. The county's Board of Chosen Freeholders consists of nine members, four elected on an at-large basis and one from each of five wards, who serve three-year terms of office on a concurrent basis, all of which end December 31, 2014. Essex County's Freeholders are Freeholder President Blonnie R. Watson (at large; Newark), Freeholder Vice President Patricia Sebold (at large; Livingston), Rufus I. Johnson (at large; Newark), Gerald W. Owens (At large; South Orange, filling the vacant seat after the resignation of Donald Payne, Jr.) Rolando Bobadilla (District 1 - Newark's North and East Wards, parts of Central and West Wards; Newark), D. Bilal Beasley (District 2 - Irvington, Maplewood and Newark's South Ward and parts of West Ward; Irvington), Carol Y. Clark (District 3 - East Orange, Newark's West and Central Wards, Orange and South Orange; East Orange) and Leonard M. Luciano (District 4 - Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Livingston, Millburn, North Caldwell, Roseland, Verona, West Caldwell and West Orange; West Caldwell), and Brendan W. Gill (District 5 - Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Montclair and Nutley; Montclair). Constitutional elected countywide are County Clerk Christopher J. Durkin (West Caldwell, 2015), Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura (2015) and Surrogate Theodore N. Stephens, II (2016).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 12,266 registered voters in South Orange Village, of which 6,536 (53.3%) were registered as Democrats, 969 (7.9%) were registered as Republicans and 4,755 (38.8%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were no voters registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 83.1% of the vote (6,566 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 16.1% (1,270 votes), and other candidates with 0.8% (62 votes), among the 7,962 ballots cast by the township's 12,623 registered voters (64 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 63.1%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 81.1% of the vote (7,228 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 17.6% (1,569 votes) and other candidates with 0.6% (53 votes), among the 8,913 ballots cast by the township's 12,243 registered voters, for a turnout of 72.8%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 77.3% of the vote (6,641 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 21.9% (1,883 votes) and other candidates with 0.4% (45 votes), among the 8,590 ballots cast by the township's 10,990 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 78.2.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Barbara Buono received 68.3% of the vote (3,314 cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 30.3% (1,469 votes), and other candidates with 1.4% (67 votes), among the 4,963 ballots cast by the township's 12,656 registered voters (113 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 39.2%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 74.6% of the vote (4,275 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 19.5% (1,119 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 4.8% (273 votes) and other candidates with 0.5% (29 votes), among the 5,727 ballots cast by the township's 12,184 registered voters, yielding a 47.0% turnout.
The township shares a common school system, the South Orange-Maplewood School District, with the adjacent town of Maplewood. The district has a single high school, Columbia High School, located in Maplewood (but nearly on the town border), two middle schools and several elementary schools in each municipality. As of the 2011-12 school year, the district's nine schools had an enrollment of 6,515 students and 527.3 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 12.36:1. Schools in the district (with 2011-12 school enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are six elementary schools serving grades K-5 — Seth Boyden Elementary Demonstration Schooll (grades K-5, 514 students), Clinton Elementary School (K-5, 500), Jefferson Elementary School (3–5, 503), Marshall Elementary School (K-2, 482), South Mountain Elementary School (K-5, 623) and Tuscan Elementary School (K-5, 609) — Maplewood Middle School (753) and South Orange Middle School (673) for grades 6–8 and Columbia High School (1,858 students) for grades 9–12.
- Private schools
- Higher education
Seton Hall University, which serves approximately 9,700 students, was founded in 1856 by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark and named after Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint. South Orange has a college feel with this Division I university located along the east side of South Orange Avenue, the community's main boulevard.
Roads and highways
As of May 2010[update], the township had a total of 48.76 miles (78.47 km) of roadways, of which 42.88 miles (69.01 km) were maintained by the municipality and 5.88 miles (9.46 km) by Essex County.
South Orange is served by two New Jersey Transit railroad stations: the South Orange station, located on South Orange Avenue near the Intersection of Vose Avenue and the Mountain station, located in the Montrose section of South Orange. The two stations provide service along the Morristown Line to Newark Broad Street Station, Secaucus Junction and New York Penn Station, with connecting service to Hoboken Terminal.
New Jersey Transit operates two bus lines that run through South Orange. These include the 92 route which goes from South Orange train station to Branch Brook Park in Newark, and the 107 route which goes from South Orange Train Station to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. The 31 Coach USA Bus which travels between the Livingston Mall and Newark Penn Station, also makes stops along South Orange Avenue.
WSOU-FM, "Seton Hall's Pirate Radio", is a non-commercial educational public radio station licensed to South Orange since 1948 has studios and offices on the campus of Seton Hall University and operates at 89.5 FM.
The News-Record weekly newspaper reports on both South Orange and Maplewood.
"The Village Green", a hyperlocal news site, reports on both South Orange and Maplewood.  They release a daily email newsletter.
- The town was the first in the nation to have an affinity credit card, the idea of the municipal affinity credit card being originated by former village president William Calabrese.
- When the town was wired for telephones and electricity in the early 20th century, the poles and wires were not allowed to run along the curb lines of streets as they do in most towns. In some sections they run along property lines in the middle of blocks, and in others they run underground. This is aesthetically pleasing but complicates access to the lines, and it delayed the introduction of cable television. Occasional proposals to replace gas lights with electric lights run across the obstacle that there is no source of electric power along the streets.
- The former telephone company system of identifying exchanges is still evidenced by the 761, 762, and 763 prefixes used for most lines in South Orange and Maplewood, which would had originally been referred to as SO1, SO2, and SO3.
- South Orange's full official name is the "Township of South Orange Village." This name was originally adopted in lieu of the Village of South Orange because it allowed South Orange to receive more federal aid that was directed to Townships during the 1970s as many federal authorities were unfamiliar with the New Jersey municipal system, in which a township is not formally different from any other municipal designation. Other municipalities in New Jersey also adopted similar strategies, notably the Township of the Borough of Verona.
- South Orange was the first municipality in New Jersey to recognize civil unions for homosexual couples. Exactly one hour after unions became legal in South Orange, they were recognized in neighboring Maplewood.
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- "Opponent of Distribution Formula For Federal Aid Steps Up Attack; As South Orange Moves to Become Township, Montclair Aide Calls for Equitable Sharing", The New York Times August 29, 1977. p. 59.
- Welak, Naoma. South Orange: Images of American, Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2002. ISBN 9780738509747.
- Herman, Beatrice P. The Trail to Upland Plantations, Worrall, 1976
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- Waiting List Information, Township of South Orange Village. Accessed October 26, 2014. "Please be advised that the waiting time for NJ Transit and Resident Commuters is approximately five years. The Mountain Station waiting time is approximately two years."
- Khavkine, Richard. "South Orange to sell Old Stone House for preservation, refurbishment", The Star-Ledger, March 24, 2010. Accessed March 25, 2012. "The earliest reference to the Old Stone House dates to Sept. 27, 1680, when it was mentioned in the minutes of a Newark town meeting to discuss and distribute land grants, according to the South Orange Historical and Preservation Society."
- The Baird, Township of South Orange Village. Accessed August 22, 2013.
- Immaculate Conception Chapel: The Dream, Seton Hall University. Accessed August 22, 2013.
- Eugene V. Kelly Carriage House - Nomination Form, National Register of Historic Places. Accessed August 22, 2013.
- Inventoey - Nomination Form for South Orange Village Hall, national Register of Historic Places. Accessed April 15, 2015.
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- Protecting and restoring the Rahway River and its ecosystem, Rahway River Association. Accessed March 24, 2012. "There are 24 municipalities in the Rahway River watershed including Maplewood, Millburn, South Orange and West Orange in Essex County, Carteret and Edison in Middlesex County and Cranford, Mountainside, Springfield and Rahway in Union County."
- Meagher, Tom. "South Orange project aims to spruce up river banks", The Star-Ledger, August 10, 2009. Accessed March 25, 2012. "But the East Branch of the Rahway is once again being thought of as a river: The second phase of a greenway project will turn its banks into a promenade and bicycle path and, it's hoped, the waterway into an ecological prize.... While the Army Corps of Engineers helped curtail some of the waterway's chronic flooding about three decades ago, it also compromised its aesthetics, Barrett said."
- DePalma, Anthony. "IF YOU'RE THINKING OF LIVING IN SOUTH ORANGE", The New York Times, January 9, 1983. Accessed August 22, 2013. "The village's 2.8 square miles are split unofficially into three sections: the older, Victorian homes in the southeast corner; a large neighborhood of comfortable, middle-class residences filling in the valley from Seton Hall University through the busy village center and train station area up to the foot of South Mountain; and the mountain itself, where newer, larger and more expensive homes have been terraced into the mountain's side."
- About Seton Hall, Seton Hall University. Accessed August 22, 2013.
- "Average weather for South Orange, New Jersey". Weather.com. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
- Census Estimates for New Jersey April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014, United States Census Bureau. Accessed May 21, 2015.
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- Census 2000 Profiles of Demographic / Social / Economic / Housing Characteristics for South Orange Village township, Essex County, New Jersey, United States Census Bureau. Accessed August 21, 2013.
- DP-1: Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000 - Census 2000 Summary File 1 (SF 1) 100-Percent Data for South Orange Village township, Essex County, New Jersey, United States Census Bureau. Accessed August 21, 2013.
- DP03: Selected Economic Characteristics from the 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for South Orange Village township, Essex County, New Jersey, United States Census Bureau. Accessed March 25, 2012.
- Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs, South Orange Village Township. Accessed July 15, 2006.
- Hatala, Greg. "Glimpse of History: Splashing around in South Orange", The Star-Ledger, July 28, 2014. "In this photo from 1958, children in South Orange are having a blast in one of the first free community pools in the country. According to the South Orange Historical and Preservation Society, the pool, built in the 1920s, was part of a recreation area known as Cameron Field."
- Giants of Jazz at The Baird, The Baird. Accessed November 26, 2013. "Honoring 2013 Jazz Master: Gary Bartz - Presented by SOPAC, The Baird and the Village of South Orange"
- Giants of Jazz, South Orange Performing Arts Center. Accessed November 26, 2013. "Presented by SOPAC, The Baird and the Village of South Orange"
- About the Gallery, Pierro Gallery of South Orange. Accessed November 26, 2013. "Operating under the aegis of the South Orange Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs, the Pierro Gallery’s mission is to offer experience and exposure to contemporary visual artists and to our communities through an array of gallery functions."
- About SOPAC, South Orange Performing Arts Center. Accessed March 25, 2012.
- Falkenstein, Michelle. "Around the Scene, a Whirl of Change", The New York Times, December 31, 2006. Accessed November 26, 2013. "The arts center, which consists of a 415-seat live performance space and a five-screen movie complex, had its genesis 12 years ago when a study commissioned by South Orange Village found that such a center would help revitalize downtown. The performance space was opened by the comedian Paula Poundstone on Nov. 3, and the cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the jazz clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera performed at the center’s fund-raising gala later that month."
- Home Page, South Orange Symphony. Accessed January 14, 2015.
- Village Government, Township of South Orange Village. Accessed May 20, 2015.
- Municipal Officials in Essex County As of January 2012: Township of South Orange Village, Essex County, New Jersey. Accessed March 25, 2012.
- Mazzola, Jessica. "Election results: First female village prez among Essex non-partisan winners", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, May 12, 2015. Accessed May 20, 2015.
- Maynard-Parisi, Carolyn. "Collum Sworn in as 49th — and First Woman — South Orange Village President", The Village Green of Maplewood & South Orange, May 18, 2015. Accessed May 20, 2015. "Before an enthusiastic audience of current and former elected officials, Village staff, family members, supporters and citizens, Sheena Collum made history Monday night as she was sworn in as South Orange’s 49th — and first female — Village President. Incumbents Deborah Davis Ford, Howard Levison and Mark Rosner also were sworn in as members of the Board of Trustees at the ceremony at the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC)."
- Lee, Eunice. "Election results for 2013 Essex County non-partisan municipal races", The Star-Ledger, May 14, 2013. Accessed August 22, 2013. "South Orange voters elected Walter Clarke, Sheena Collum and Stephen Schnall by a comfortable margin. The three newcomers comprised the South Orange 2013 team, which was endorsed by Village President Alex Torpey and several trustees on the seven-member board. Incumbent trustees Janine Bauer, Michael Goldberg and Nancy Gould did not seek re-election."
- Staff. "South Orange Voters Elect New Village President", Township of South Orange Village, May 17, 2011. Accessed May 29, 2011.
- 2011 Municipal Election - Unofficial Results May 10, 2011, Essex County, New Jersey Clerk. Accessed May 24, 2012.
- Khavkine, Richard. "South Orange voters elect incumbent and running-mates", The Star-Ledger, May 12, 2009. Accessed May 24, 2012. "In South Orange, incumbent Michael Goldberg and running mates Janine Bauer and Nancy Gould, running under the moniker 'Pure Progress', swept aside a trio of challengers, including former trustee Stephen Steglitz."
- Unofficial Municipal Election Results May 12, 2009, Essex County, New Jersey Clerk. Accessed May 24, 2012.
- Plan Components Report, New Jersey Redistricting Commission, December 23, 2011. Accessed January 6, 2013.
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- About Cory Booker, United States Senate. Accessed January 26, 2015. "He now owns a home and lives in Newark's Central Ward community."
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- Senators of the 114th Congress from New Jersey. United States Senate. Accessed January 26, 2015. "Booker, Cory A. - (D - NJ) Class II; Menendez, Robert - (D - NJ) Class I"
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- Patricia Sebold, Essex County, New Jersey. Accessed July 9, 2014.
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- Lee, Eunice. "Labor leader from South Orange tapped as new Essex County freeholder", The Star-Ledger, December 19, 2012. Accessed July 9, 2014. "A longtime labor union leader from South Orange was sworn in this afternoon as the newest Essex County freeholder.Gerald Owens, 74, is a general organizer for the International Longshoremen's Association.... Owens is filling the seat vacated by former at-large freeholder Donald Payne Jr., who stepped down from the post last month after securing the 10th Congressional District seat left open by his late father."
- Rolando Bobadilla, Essex County, New Jersey. Accessed July 9, 2014.
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- District information for South Orange-Maplewood School District, National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed October 25, 2014.
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- Fickenscher, Lisa. "N.J. town plans to launch affinity card program. (South Orange, New Jersey)", American Banker, April 8, 1994. Accessed March 25, 2012. "SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. -- Mayor William R. Calabrese has big plans for this municipality. By June, the mayor expects to unveil an affinity credit card that would offer the 17,500 residents of the largely middle-class township discounts when they patronize local merchants.... He believes South Orange would be the first to get a town-affiliated bank credit card off the ground."
- Caldwell, Dave. "Living in | South Orange, N.J.: A Place to Feel Homey While Staying Hip", The New York Times, March 2, 2008. Accessed March 25, 2012. "One of the first same-sex civil unions in New Jersey was performed in South Orange in February 2007."
- The Township of South Orange Village
- School Data for the South Orange-Maplewood School District, National Center for Education Statistics
- News-Record (newspaper serving Maplewood and South Orange since 1958)
- Orange Lawn Tennis Club
- South Orange Historical and Preservation Society
- South Orange-Maplewood Community Coalition on Race (Community organization providing information about town for prospective buyers and organizing events for current residents)
- South Orange-Maplewood Place (Website providing information about South Orange and Maplewood)
- South Orange-Maplewood School District
- South Orange-Maplewood School District's 2012–13 School Report Card from the New Jersey Department of Education
- South Orange Performing Arts Center
- The South Orange Public Library
- South Orange Village Center Alliance (Not-for-profit management entity of South Orange Village Special Improvement District)
- South Orange Symphony Orchestra (South Orange's community orchestra)