Montclair, in Essex County, is an eclectic, bustling community that offers arts, dining and shopping, and a rich history. Nearly 38,000 residents live within its 6315 square miles, on the east side of the First Mountain of the Watchung Mountains. Montclair has 43 sites on the National Register of Historic Places and 92 individually listed landmarks in six historic districts. In 2015, Montclair Center won the Great American Main Street Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Montclair also has 42 houses of worship and proportionally more Muslims, Jews, and Catholics than the national average.
Montclair was formed from portions of Bloomfield Township, and was known as West Bloomfield. In 1856, the railroad arrived there and changed everything. By 1860 West Bloomfield was becoming a commuter town with a commercial district and a tourist destination for New Yorkers who wanted to visit the country. Today, seven NJ Transit rail stations and two bus lines serve Montclair.
In 1868, the Township of Montclair was created. By the turn of the 20th century, the country town boasted a richly diverse population living in modest homes and grand mansions.
The housing stock in Montclair is also diverse: condominiums and townhouses of varying sizes, stately mansions, former single-family homes converted into multi-family dwellings, classic pre-war colonials, and more. Montclair is on the expensive side (median price, $692,500) with high taxes. Depending on the neighborhood, four-bedroom homes generally cost $500,000-$700,000, historic manor homes between $1 and $2 million, townhouses in the $300,000-400,000 range, condos from $175,000 to $290,000.
Montclair has always attracted people in the arts and has many art institutions, including the Montclair Art Museum, art galleries, two movie theatres (one of which shows independent and documentary films), and live theaters—The Montclair Operetta Company, the Wellmont Theatre, Montclair State University’s Kasser Theater and the theater in Life Hall, and the Studio Playhouse.
For park lovers, there are the famed Presby Memorial Iris Gardens, Eagle Rock Reservation, Brookdale Park, and the Bonsal Nature Reserve. Montclair also has 18 public tennis courts, four skating rinks (two indoor), and three public swimming pools.
The Bloomfield Avenue corridor is packed with an array of restaurants, bars and clubs, boutiques and galleries.
The school district employs an award-winning magnet system in seven elementary and three middle schools identified by specific themes: global studies, science and technology, creating connections, Montessori, university, STEM, environmental science, and gifted and talented. Montclair High School for grades 9-12 includes distinctive small learning communities, a ninth grade academy, and over 25 Advanced Placement courses.
Private and parochial schools in Montclair include Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair Community Pre-K, St. Cassian’s School, Virginia Harkness Sawtelle Learning, Maria Montessori Early Learning, Montclair Cooperative School, Trinity Academy, Immaculate Conception High School (coed), Lacordaire Academy (for girls), and Deron School II. Montclair is also home to Montclair State University.