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West Caldwell, NJ Fun Fact

Caldwell, West Caldwell, and several neighboring communities were all originally one combined area known as the Horseneck Tract. In the early 18th century, a group of settlers left Newark and purchased a large tract of land northwest of their home city for the equivalent of a few hundred dollars from the Lenape Native Americans. This piece of land extended west and north to the Passaic River, south to the town center of what would become Livingston, and east to the First Watchung Mountain, and was called Horseneck by the natives because it resembled the neck and head of a horse.

What was then known as Horseneck contained most of the present day northern Essex County towns: West Caldwell, along with Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, North Caldwell, Roseland, and Verona are all located entirely in Horseneck, and parts of what are today Livingston, Montclair, and West Orange also were contained in the Horseneck tract. After the Revolutionary War, Horseneck changed its name to “Caldwell Township” in honor of a local war hero and pastor, James Caldwell, who used burning pages from his church’s bibles to ignite the ammo in soldiers’ cannons and helped to drive the British out of Horseneck.

By the late 1880s, Caldwell had become quite a developed and populated town, however the vast majority of the development, residents, and businesses were located in the center of the town along Bloomfield Avenue, its main connecting route with Newark and New York City. The outskirts of town remained farms and swampland in many places. This bothered the people living in the center of town and in 1892, Caldwell’s center area decided to form its own municipality, naming itself Caldwell Borough and leaving the outskirts of town remaining as Caldwell Township.

Caldwell Borough Contained what is today the towns of West Caldwell and Caldwell. Soon after, the area of Caldwell Township just to the east of Caldwell Borough between Caldwell Borough and Montclair (present-day Verona and Cedar Grove) decided to follow Caldwell’s lead and incorporated itself as its own borough, Verona. Some of the already-developed eastern neighborhoods of Caldwell Township chose to become part of Montclair, as it was a rapidly developing suburb of Newark and Paterson. At around the same time, the area north of Caldwell Borough became its own town, North Caldwell. The ritzy, wooded area directly to the south of downtown Caldwell Borough became Essex Fells.