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173 pages
1 hour
May 26, 2004


Montclair, New Jersey, like most American towns, has grown dramatically over the course of the last one hundred years. Much of the early 1900s landscape has been disguised, and the town has come to reflect the popular styles and fashions of changing eras. Streets have been paved, the facades of commercial buildings have been updated, and homes have been altered to reflect contemporary tastes and accommodate modern conveniences. This volume of approximately two hundred postcards from the author s collection, most never before published in book form, captures Montclair as it was in the early twentieth century. The reader will see familiar landmarks such as the Montclair Art Museum, the Marlboro Inn, and the Bellevue Theater as they originally appeared, and discover the vanished predecessors of the Japanese-style mansion on Upper Mountain Avenue and the Rockcliffe Apartments off Crestmont Road.
May 26, 2004

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Author Philip Edward Jaeger has compiled a revealing visual tour of a notable New Jersey town that will entertain and educate historians, residents, and visitors alike.

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Montclair - Philip Edward Jaeger



In the early 1900s postcards were an inexpensive yet fairly rapid means of communication. They were also purchased as souvenirs or simply obtained for their own sake as part of the postcard collecting craze in those years. Whether mailed or saved, cards from this era depict the way America looked and lived almost a century ago. In 1913 alone almost one billion cards were sent through the mail. The cards frequently captured images of towns in their most formative years and with the passage of time have become historical documents.

In addition to views of Montclair, many of the postcards in the following chapters have messages written in the margins. These cards generally were mailed before 1907, when it was illegal to write a message on the address side of the card. They make interesting reading.

Montclair has a particularly rich postcard heritage. Over a thousand different cards captured scenes such as a Teddy Roosevelt banner hanging over Bloomfield Avenue during the presidential election year of 1904, carriages waiting at the depot for the midday train to arrive, Montclair Academy’s first campus on Bloomfield Avenue, Upper Montclair’s business district before its Tudor style predominated, and an architecturally diverse array of homes as they appeared shortly after they were built.

The scenes in the card reappear in the chapters that follow. Although the scenes no longer exist it is hoped that this guide provides an enjoyable and meaningful journey back in time to when they did.

An 1872 map of Montclair.



In 1872, Ulysses S. Grant was president and Montclair had been a separate township for only four years. Its 3,000 residents, businesses, and organizations were generally clustered along the Old Turnpike, today’s Bloomfield Avenue. The Old Turnpike, chartered in 1806 as the Newark and Pompton Turnpike, originated in Newark and terminated in Parsippany on its western extension and Pompton Plains on its northern branch. By 1872, most of the road’s traffic had been lost to the railroads. In that year, Montclair had one railroad that had been in operation for 16 years, a second that was nearing completion, and a third that had just started construction. The map of Montclair on the opposite page shows the streets, major public buildings, and railroads that existed in 1872. Using the map, a walking tour up the Old Turnpike provides background for many of the images of Montclair that appear in later chapters. Also, a brief look at the railroads on the map furnishes an insight into Montclair’s future development.

Our tour begins at Montclair’s eastern end of the Old Turnpike, where the single-track railroad crossed the street at grade. Just south of the crossing was the Wheeler paper mill, powered by a millpond created by Toney’s Brook. A few blocks west of the crossing was the Methodist Episcopal church between Elm Street and Herman Street (today’s Hartley Street). Built in 1836, the church was the first building in Montclair to be used solely as a church. As Montclair’s population center shifted westward, the church moved to a more central location on North Fullerton Avenue. The last service in the old church was held on December 7, 1879; dedication ceremonies at the new church occurred one week later.

One block south, on Washington Street, stood the Church of the Immaculate Conception, erected around 1856. A new structure was partially completed on North Fullerton Avenue by 1893 and worship services began there in June of that year. The church was finally completed and dedicated in 1909.

Ashland Hall, slightly west of the depot, began as a boarding school in 1845. By 1872 it had become a boarding house with commuters waiting for the two-minute whistle to blow before starting their rush for an east-bound train. Farther up the Old Turnpike, fronting on Valley Road, was one of Montclair’s three public schools. Constructed in 1860, the school consisted of primary, grammar, and high school departments.

West of the school, on the corner of Orange Road and Hillside Avenue, was the Hillside Seminary for Young Ladies. The institution was both a day and boarding school and attracted young women from states as distant as California and Florida. Two blocks east, inside the triangle formed by the Old Turnpike, Church Street and Valley Road, stood the Presbyterian church. The church, completed in 1856, closed its doors in 1913 and was razed eight years later. It was replaced by the Hinck Building, which still occupies the site today. West of the church and across from Park Street was the parsonage. It was demolished in the 1920s to allow for the construction of South Park Street. On nearby Fullerton Avenue, construction was progressing on the Congregational church. It would be completed the following year.

Turning to the railroads on the 1872 map, the Newark and Bloomfield Railroad began service to Montclair, then West Bloomfield, in 1856. The line ended at Bloomfield Junction (Roseville Avenue) in Newark, where it connected with the Morris and Essex Railroad. In Montclair, the depot was located just east of Spring Street and slightly north of the Old Turnpike. The depot, the first at this location, was a simple building with a tar-paper roof. It was demolished in 1878.

Lengthy delays at Bloomfield Junction, poor service in general, and high ticket costs were factors behind the creation of a second railroad, the Montclair Railway. The idea originated with Julius Pratt, who became the road’s first president. A charter was granted in 1868. The line was to pass through Bloomfield with its eastern terminus at the Pennsylvania Railroad station in Jersey City. Bloomfield’s refusal to become bonded for the purpose of constructing a railroad to another town was a major factor in Montclair becoming an independent township in 1868. Service on the line (anticipated by the publishers

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