Glen Ridge History

Glen Ridge’s roots go back to 1666, when a group of Connecticut families led by Robert Treat purchased  land from the Lenni-Lenape Indians. According to the town, they named it “New Ark.” The name was highly symbolic, and meant they were allowed to worship freely. The land included what is now Montclair, Bloomfield, Belleville and Nutley. 

The Glen Ridge section was uniquely positioned on land that included farms and woodlands. There was also an industrial section, where water based mills produced lumber, calico and brass fittings. The area known as the glen was the inspiration behind the town’s name, as it’s adjacent to a ridge formed by Toney’s Brook.

By the late 1800’s, the landscape began to change. Two railway lines opened- the Newark and Bloomfield Railroad in 1856 and the New York, Montclair and Greenwood Lake Railroad in 1872. Glen Ridge began to shift away from farming and industry and became a residential community. 

Another major shift happened in the late 1800s. Residents didn’t feel they were adequately represented on the Bloomfield Council and complained about a lack of nearby schools, unpaved roads and nonexistent water and sewer systems. Determined to make a change, in 1895 local men gathered at the Ridgewood Avenue home of Robert Rudd. They mapped out a 1.45 square mile boundary that would be  Glen Ridge. Later that year, the vote to secede passed by 23 votes. The area was officially incorporated as a borough in 1895, and Rudd was elected the first mayor of Glen Ridge.

Other notable moments in the town’s history include when George Washington visited the area multiple times between 1775-1780. In 1778 he’s thought to have visited the home of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Cadmus, located on Ashland Avenue in what is now Bloomfield. Washington’s legacy continues in Glen Ridge thanks to Washington Street, and Washington Field By 1900 the first public school opened; the population reached 1,900 and a clubhouse for Glen Ridge Golf (now the country club) opened. In 1905 the Women’s Club was created, and the population tripled by 1912. By 1982, the Glen Ridge Historic District was listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. 

To learn more about the history of Glen Ride, visit the Glen Ridge Historical Society

Quick Links:

Glen Ridge Historic Map from 1906

Glen Ridge Map - 1907 from Sanborn Fire Insurance