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Tribute To The Borough Of Essex Fells

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen

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Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the Borough of Essex Fells and its residents on the occasion of its Centennial celebration.

Essex Fells, which was incorporated as a municipality by the New Jersey State Legislature on March 21, 1902, is the smallest municipality in Essex County, measuring a mere 1.6 square miles. Despite its size, the borough is home to some of the friendliest people, the loveliest homes, and gardens in New Jersey.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the wooded hills and valleys that now comprise the municipality were sparsely settled, with only seven or eight farms located along what is now known as Roseland Avenue.

The expansion of the railroad system and improvements in other forms of transportation brought about the development of real estate in areas surrounding large cities. This resulted in the development of a community that would come to be known as Essex Fells.

Anthony Drexel, a prominent developer and planner from Philadelphia, had a vision and dream to build a unique community with beautiful homes situated in a rustic area of New Jersey. In 1888 he sent his representative, Charles W. Leavitt, to survey the situation around the extension of the railroad service in the Caldwells.

Following a report that the location seemed ideal for use as a high-level residential community, Mr. Drexel formed the New York Suburban Land Company in 1889 and purchased one thousand acres of land south of Caldwell. Included in part of the purchase were the land and the historic home of General William Gould, which became the home of the land company's new president, Mr. Leavitt. The majority shareholder in the corporation was John R. Fell, Mr. Drexel's son-in-law.

The hilly and rocky terrain made an imaginative and skilled approach to the planning necessary. To lay out an over-all community concept, Mr. Drexel hired well-known landscape architect Ernest W. Bowditch.

As this new area began to be developed and built, it was fortunate enough to be able to install such technological advances as electricity, in-door plumbing, and telephones, conveniences that are commonplace one hundred years later--but were true innovations then!

Essex Fells was given its name in honor of the county in which it was developed, Essex, and because the word ``fell'' suggests a rolling, hilly area, although Mr. Fell must have had some input into the name Essex Fells!

Throughout the past one hundred years not much about the character of Essex Fells has changed from the original concept of a residential rustic community. Today, the municipality is home to over 2,100 residents, a very small number by New Jersey standards, the Essex Fells Water Company, a public elementary school, a post office, and a park.

Mr. Speaker, this weekend the fine neighbors of Essex Fells will be joining together for a parade and community picnic to celebrate this auspicious occasion. I urge you and all of my colleagues to join Mayor Edward Abbot, Borough Council members James N. Blake, Rupert Hauser III, James W. Irwin, Julianne H. Rose, Thomas St. John, and, Lynda Youngworth, and the Citizens of Essex Fells in wishing them well during this special anniversary year.