West Orange New Jersey Historical Photographs and History
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This page has many interesting West Orange vintage Postcard photos, please allow time to load

West Orange New Jersey circa 1905
This circa 1903 Postcard shows the "Annual Automobile Race and Contest", an interesting commentary on just how quickly 
the Automobile became popular in West Orange. The large building in the center still stands and houses the
West Orange Pharmacy. Main Street is at right, Eagle Rock Av at left, and Harrison Av straight ahead.

A Short History of Eagle Rock Reservation

1894 -- The trolley line to the foot of Eagle Rock Avenue had been placed in operation. This line was an extension of the Washington Street end of the Orange Crosstown and ran via Washington Street on its own right-of-way along what are now Watchung Avenue, Chestnut Street and Cherry Street to Harrison Avenue and via that street to its intersection with Eagle Rock Avenue. The idea behind the construction of the Eagle Rock line was to provide cheap transportation to Eagle Rock, which had become an attraction for Sunday picnickers because of its high elevation and magnificent view of the growing metropolitan area. The promoters of the Eagle Rock line realized the impracticality of running a trolley to the top of the ridge because of the steep grade. Instead, they counted upon their patrons' climbing the last hundred feet up a zigzag path constructed along the side of the cliff.
1895 -- The first purchase of land by the newly formed Essex County Park Commission took place.
1903 -- Eagle Rock Park was used by Thomas Alva Edison to film part of the first motion picture "The Great Train Robbery." 
1907 -- The entire tract was finally assembled. Frederick Law Olmsted created a preliminary design for the Reservation which was further developed by the Olmsted Firm in the early 1900's.
1909 -- An historic old casino that sat on the crest was built. This was an open masonry shelter with a series of arches. (The term "casino" refers to an Italian style county dwelling or summer house) The Reservation became a famous spot where week-enders congregated. It's popularity was helped by the nearby Crystal Lake park. Visitors would travel by trolley from the Newark area via the Orange Line to Harrison Avenue where passengers  transferred to the Eagle Rock Trolley line. Automobile enthusiasts of that period held races up the cobblestone roadway of Eagle Rock Avenue terminating in Eagle Rock Park.
1917 - Thomas Edison conducts secret experiments for the US military using the open expanse of EagleRock Park, WestOrange.
1920's - The Reservation becomes more accessible as Automobiles regularly bring picnickers to the summit. Privately owned Crystal Lake eventually falls into disuse with the municipality taking over the property.

Eagle Rock Lookout, West Orange New Jersey
Circa 1906 - Eagle Rock Reservation Lookout

Circa 1905 - Just below Eagle Rock Reservation. This photo shows the tracks of the Eagle Rock Trolley on
Mountain Rd as clearly seen on the US Topo map revised in 1897. The start of the "100 Steps" are seen at right.

Circa 1904 - The Eyrie, the former home of Llewellyn Haskell,
it sat in the middle of Eagle Rock Reservation until 1924

Circa 1904 - This "Ice Cream Pavillion" delighted many picnic goers
Eagle Rock Reservation one hundred years ago

Eagle Rock Park, West Orange NJ
Circa 1920 - The 'Casino', an open masonry structure on the summit of Eagle Rock. The term 
"casino" refers to an Italian style county dwelling or summer house. The building was built 
in 1909 and renovated in 1986 and turned into the Highlawn Pavilion Restaurant

Photo circa 1904 - Eagle Rock Trolley, a short line that ran from the intersection of Main St & Eagle Rock Av
up to Undercliff Av at the bottom of the Reservation. Photo shows the vicinity of Nutwold Av.

The lookout at
Eagle Rock Reservation in the 1930s. This area overlooking the  New York City skyline is
now the site of the newly dedicated Memorial to the 3,000 people murdered by Terrorists on September 11.

Crystal Lake was a private Picnic Ground and Day Excursion destination at the turn of the century, A favorite with picnicker's,
it held a small amusement park, with a merry-go-round, Hotel, dance hall and restaurant, all built around Crystal Lake, just
a short walk from Eagle Rock. Rowboats crossed the lake in the summer and skaters glided across the ice in winter.

The five acre Crystal Lake attracted boaters, swimmers & fishermen.

A short walk took you from Eagle Rock Reservation to the cool waters of Crystal Lake

crystal lake vintage

Crystal Lake Hotel West Orange
Mitchell's, the Crystal Lake Hotel, in its' prime, circa 1900.
The area was re-developed around the year 2000 with a Townhouse & Office complex.

Thomas Alva Edison poses in his West Orange Laboratories circa 1925, underneath, of course, a light bulb, which he invented. The most famous resident of West Orange, Thomas Edison lived here in 'Glenmont', his home in the private enclave of Llewellyn Park from 1886 until his death in 1931.

Llewellyn Park circa 1916 (hand colored b&w photo)

Hutton Park circa 1908 (hand colored b&w photograph)

John Crosby Brown well, off Northfield Rd, photo circa 1905

Circa 1908 - Orange Mountain Trolley Switchback
(this is not the Eagle Rock Trolley, but is a different line that went up in the vicinity of Northfield Rd)

This page is a community service of First Baptist Church of Bloomfield, NJ. Our Church was founded in 1851 by residents of Essex County who desired to meet together for worship and the study of God's Word. Over the years many West Orange residents have been members of our church. During all the time spanned by these photos, First Baptist has had an involvement in the community life of the area, and a spiritual impact in the lives of it's people. Now, over 150 years later, that spiritual impact is as vital as ever. We're a multi-ethnic Church, we love visitors and we invite you to worship with us!

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This West Orange History page is from  www.FirstBaptistBloomfield.org
a community service of First Baptist Church  (in downtown Bloomfield Center)
1 Washington St,    Bloomfield, NJ 07003