West Orange was originally part of the Native American Hackensack clan's territory, for over 10,000 years. The Hackensack were a phatry of the Unami tribe of the Leni Lenape. In their language, "Leni Lenape" means, "The Original People." The Acquackanonk sub-tribe were located along the Passaic River. They were part of the Algonquin language family, and known as "Delaware Indians" by the 18th century. They identified themselves with the totem of the Turtle. They were hunter-gatherers, matrilineal, and had cultural traditions such as Wedding Ceremonies. Northfield Ave and Old Indian Road in West Orange, remain as original Hackensack trails. Their main settlement was where the city of Hackensack is today. They would travel to the ocean or mountains to hunt for food. The Passaic River runs in an upside-down V shape - 8 miles (13 km) west and east, and 13 miles (21 km) north of West Orange. In the centuries prior to industrial development, the Passaic River and Watchung Mountains were major geographic landmarks amidst the untouched wilderness.
West Orange is located at the peak of the Watchung Mountains. This vantage point over the valleys East to Manhattan - had a strategic value for Leni Lenape warriors, and later George Washington's troops during the American Revolution. The wooded South Mountain Reservation has rocks shaped like the backs of large Turtles. The area is now known as "Turtle Back Rock Picnic Area" and gives its name to the Turtle Back Zoo. The Turtle Back Rocks were considered sacred to the Native Americans, as related to their Creation myth of "Turtle Island". "Turtle Island" is the Native American name for North America. In the creation myth, the world was created from a turtle's back.
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Arts and Entertainment
The West Orange arts council is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. As part of our mission of bringing art and people together, we believe in inclusiveness of all groups. It is our goal to provide transformative learning experiences for our audience so that they have a greater sense of self and the world around them.
The West Orange Arts Center offers enriching and innovative programs and events that make art accessible to everyone in our community. Public Programming inspires cultural and artistic enlightenment within our community and beyond its borders—including artist talks, lecture series, panel discussions, film screenings, and hands-on art-making events.
The support to bring these programs to special audiences is often gained through our annual fundraisers and Member events.
The West Orange Public Schools serves students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2015-16 school year, the district's 12 schools had an enrollment of 6,867 students and 626.5 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 10.9:1. Schools in the district (with 2015-16 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Betty Maddalena Early Learning Center (PreK), Gregory Elementary School (521 students; in grades K-5), Hazel Avenue Elementary School (366; K-5), Kelly Elementary School (420; PreK-5), Mount Pleasant Elementary School (380; K-5), Redwood Elementary School (546; K-5), St. Cloud Elementary School (388; K-5), Washington Elementary School (434; K-5), Thomas A. Edison Middle School (517; 6), Liberty Middle School (497; 7&8), Roosevelt Middle School (585; 7&8) and West Orange High School (2,084) for grades 9-12.
Parks and Recreation
The township is set off by two large parks: the South Mountain Reservation along its southwestern borders with Maplewood, Millburn and South Orange, and the Eagle Rock Reservation along its northeastern borders with Montclair and Verona. The township straddles the transition between the low-lying Newark Bay basin and the high terrain of the Watchung Mountains.Fishing and kayaking is available on the Rahway River.
Developed by Sol Atlas, Essex Green Shopping Center is an outdoor mall with stores, like ShopRite, restaurants and an AMC Theatres Fork and Screen dine-in movie theater. The 350,000-square-foot (33,000 m2) mall, the largest of its type in Essex County, was purchased in 2016 by Clarion Partners.
As of May 2010, the township had a total of 114.54 miles (184.33 km) of roadways, of which 89.63 miles (144.25 km) were maintained by the municipality, 19.45 miles (31.30 km) by Essex County and 5.46 miles (8.79 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
The Essex Freeway (Interstate 280) is the main limited access road that passes through from east to west. Route 10 passes through in the western area and has its western terminus at CR 577 (which runs north-south through the township). CR 508 also traverse the municipality from east to west.
NJ Transit offers bus service in the township to Newark on the 21, 29, 71, 73 and 79 routes, with local service on the 97 route. In September 2012, as part of budget cuts, NJ Transit suspended service to Newark on the 75 line.
DeCamp Bus Lines offers scheduled service between the township and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan on the 66 route. Coach USA / Community Coach serves the Port Authority Bus Terminal on route 77. OurBus operates a commuter route to New York City serving Livingston and West Orange.