About Morristown, NJ
For whatever reason, we find ourselves in Morristown, NJ from time to time. A typical “modern” city with progressive ideals, etc. Just a 20-minute drive from the Somerville Circle area (with perfect traffic conditions), and this wonderful city can be at your fingertips.
Morristown, New Jersey
Morristown is a town in Morris County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the town’s population was 18,411, reflecting a decline of 133 (-0.7%) from the 18,544 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 2,355 (+14.5%) from the 16,189 counted in the 1990 Census. It is the county seat of Morris County. Morristown has been called “the military capital of the American Revolution” because of its strategic role in the war for independence from Great Britain. Today this history is visible in a variety of locations throughout the town that collectively makeup Morristown National Historical Park.
According to British colonial records, the first permanent European settlement at Morristown occurred in 1715, when a settlement was founded as New Hanover by migrants from New York and Connecticut. Morris County was created on March 15, 1739, from portions of Hunterdon County. The county, and ultimately Morristown itself, was named for the popular Governor of the Province, Lewis Morris, who championed benefits for the colonists.
The area was inhabited by the Lenni Lenape Native Americans for up to 6,000 years prior to exploration by Europeans. The first European settlements in this portion of New Jersey were established by the Swedes and Dutch in the early 17th century, when a significant trade in furs existed between the natives and the Europeans at temporary posts.
It became part of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, but the English seized control of the region in 1664, which was granted to Sir George Carteret and John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton, as the Province of New Jersey.
Morristown was settled around 1715 by English Presbyterians from Southold, New York on Long Island and New Haven, Connecticut as the village of New Hanover. The town’s central location and road connections led to its selection as the seat of the new Morris County shortly after its separation from Hunterdon County on March 15, 1739. The village and county were named for Lewis Morris, the first and then sitting royal governor of a united colony of New Jersey.
By the middle of the 18th century, Morristown had 250 residents, with two churches, a courthouse, two taverns, two schools, several stores, and numerous mills and farms nearby.
George Washington first came to Morristown in May 1773, two years before the Revolutionary War broke out, and traveled from there to New York City together with John Parke Custis(his stepson) and Lord Stirling.
In 1777, General George Washington and the Continental Army marched from the victories at Trenton and Princeton to encamp near Morristown from January to May. Washington had his headquarters during that first encampment at Jacob Arnold’s Tavern located at the Morristown Green in the center of the town. Morristown was selected for its extremely strategic location. It was between Philadelphia and New York and near New England. It also was chosen for the skills and trades of the residents, local industries, and natural resources to provide arms, and what was thought to be the ability of the community to provide enough food to support the army.
The churches were used for inoculations for smallpox. That first headquarters, Arnold’s Tavern, was eventually moved .5 miles (800 m) south of the green onto Mount Kemble Avenue to become All Souls Hospital in the late 19th century. It suffered a fire in 1918, and the original structure was demolished, but new buildings for the hospital were built directly across the street.
From December 1779 to June 1780 the Continental Army’s second encampment at Morristown was at Jockey Hollow. Then, Washington’s headquarters in Morristown was located at the Ford Mansion, a large mansion near what was then the ‘edge of town.’ Ford’s widow and children shared the house with Martha Washington and officers of the Continental Army. ”
The winter of 1780 was the worst winter of the Revolutionary War. The starvation was complicated by extreme inflation of money and lack of pay for the army. The entire Pennsylvania contingent successfully mutinied and later, 200 New Jersey soldiers attempted to emulate them (unsuccessfully).
During Washington’s second stay, in March 1780, he declared St. Patrick’s Day a holiday to honor his many Irish troops. Martha Washington traveled from Virginia and remained with her husband each winter throughout the war. The Marquis de Lafayette came to Washington in Morristown to inform him that France would be sending ships and trained soldiers to aid the Continental Army.
The Ford Mansion, Jockey Hollow, and Fort Nonsense are all preserved as part of Morristown National Historical Park managed by the National Park Service, which has the distinction among historic preservationists of being the first National Historical Park established in the United States.
During Washington’s stay, Benedict Arnold was court-martialed at Dickerson’s Tavern, on Spring Street, for charges related to profiteering from military supplies at Philadelphia. His admonishment was made public, but Washington quietly promised the hero, Arnold, to make it up to him.
Alexander Hamilton courted and wed Elizabeth Schuyler at a residence where Washington’s personal physician was billeted. Locally known as the Schuyler-Hamilton House, the Dr. Jabez Campfield House is listed on both the New Jersey and National Register of Historic Places.
The Morristown Green has a statue commemorating the meeting of George Washington, the young Marquis de LaFayette, and young Alexander Hamilton depicting them discussing forthcoming aid of French tall ships and troops being sent by King Louis XVI of France to aid the Continental Army.
Morristown’s Burnham Park has a statue of the “Father of the American Revolution”, Thomas Paine, who wrote the best selling booklet Common Sense, which urged a complete break from British rule. The bronze statue, by sculptor Georg J. Lober, shows Paine in 1776 (using a drum as a table during the withdrawal of the army across New Jersey) composing Crisis 1. He wrote These are the times that try men’s souls …. The statue was dedicated on July 4, 1950.
Nineteenth century to present
The idea for constructing the Morris Canal is credited to Morristown businessman George P. Macculloch, who in 1822 convened a group to discuss his concept for a canal. The group included Governor of New Jersey Isaac Halstead Williamson, which led to approval of the proposal by the New Jersey Legislature later that year. The canal was used for a century.
The Marquis de Lafayette returned to Morristown in July 1825 on his return tour of the United States, where a ball was held in his honor at the 1807 Sansay House on DeHart Street, which still stands.
Antoine le Blanc, a French immigrant laborer murdered the Sayre family and their servant (or possibly slave), Phoebe. He was tried and convicted of murder of the Sayres (but not of Phoebe) on August 13, 1833. On September 6, 1833, Le Blanc became the last person hanged on the Morristown Green. Until late 2006, the house where the murders were committed was known as “Jimmy’s Haunt,” which is purported to be haunted by Phoebe’s ghost because her murder never saw justice. In 2007 Jimmy’s Haunt was torn down to make way for a bank.
Samuel F. B. Morse and Alfred Vail built the first telegraph at the Speedwell Ironworks in Morristown on January 6, 1838. The first telegraph message was A patient waiter is no loser. The first public demonstration of the invention occurred five days later as an early step toward the information age.
Jacob Arnold’s Tavern, the first headquarters for Washington in Morristown, was purchased by the Colles family to save it from demolition in 1886. It was moved by horse-power in the winter of 1887 from “the green” (after being stuck on Bank Street for about six weeks) to a site 0.5 miles (0.80 km) south on Mount Kemble Avenue at what is now a parking lot for the Atlantic RIMM Rehabilitation Hospital. It became a boarding house for four years until it was converted by the Grey Nuns from Montreal into All Souls Hospital, the first general hospital in Morris County. George and Martha Washington’s second-floor ballroom became a chapel and the first-floor tavern became a ward for patients. The building was lost to a fire in 1918. The entire organization, nurses, doctors, and patients of All Souls Hospital were then moved across Mount Kemble Avenue, U.S. Route 202, to a newly built brick hospital building. All Souls’ was set to close because of financial difficulties in the late 1960s. In 1973, it became Community Medical Center. In 1977, the center became bankrupt and was purchased by the then new and larger Morristown Memorial Hospital, which is now the Morristown Medical Center.
On December 18, 1843, the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was incorporated. This was the first congregation established by African-Americans in Morris County. It is still active. The first site of the Church was located at 13 Spring Street and served as the only schoolhouse for colored children until 1870. The Church relocated to its present site at 59 Spring Street in 1874.
On January 5, 2009, five red lights were spotted in the Morristown area night skies. The event was a staged hoax using helium balloons and flares, but became nationally known as the Morristown UFO hoax.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Morristown had a total area of 3.026 square miles (7.839 km), including 2.929 square miles (7.587 km) of land and 0.097 square miles (0.252 km) of water (3.22%).
The downtown shopping and business district of Morristown is centered around a square park, known as the Morristown Green. It is a former market square from Morristown’s colonial days.
At the 2010 United States Census, there were 18,411 people, 7,417 households, and 3,649 families residing in the town. The population density was 6,284.9 per square mile (2,426.6/km). There were 8,172 housing units at an average density of 2,789.6 per square mile (1,077.1/km). The racial makeup of the town was 62.50% (11,507) White, 13.97% (2,572) Black or African American, 0.64% (117) Native American, 4.34% (799) Asian, 0.06% (11) Pacific Islander, 14.84% (2,732) from other races, and 3.66% (673) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 34.09% (6,277) of the population.
There were 7,417 households, of which 22.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.1% were married couples living together, 12.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.8% were non-families. 38.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.13.
In the town, 17.6% of the population were under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 38.4% from 25 to 44, 22.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34.8 years. For every 100 females there were 104.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 106.1 males.
The Census Bureau’s 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $64,279 (with a margin of error of +/- $5,628) and the median family income was $66,070 (+/- $3,638). Males had a median income of $51,242 (+/- $6,106) versus $44,315 (+/- $5,443) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $37,573 (+/- $2,286). About 10.2% of families and 9.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.1% of those under age 18 and 8.8% of those age 65 or over.
Morristown Medical Center is a major employer in Morristown.
Morristown is home to the Morris Museum.
The United States Equestrian Team, the international equestrian team for the United States, was founded in 1950 at the Coates estate on van Beuren Road in Morristown.
Morristown has a cricketing club, the first in North America.
The Morristown 1776 Association Football Club is a Soccer club that competes in the North Jersey Soccer League and MCSSA
Roads and highways
As of May 2010, the town had a total of 39.98 miles (64.34 km) of roadways, of which 29.73 miles (47.85 km) were maintained by the municipality, 5.03 miles (8.10 km) by Morris County and 5.22 miles (8.40 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Morristown has attempted to implement transit-oriented development. Morristown was designated in 1999 as of one of New Jersey’s first five “transit villages“. In 1999, Morristown changed its zoning code to designate the area around the train station as a “Transit Village Core” for mixed-use. The designation was at least partly responsible for developing plans for several mixed-use condominium developments.
New Jersey Transit offers rail service at the Morristown station which offers service on the Morristown Line to Newark Broad Street, Secaucus Junction, New York Penn Station and Hoboken Terminal. The town benefited from shortened commuting times to New York City due to the “Midtown Direct” service New Jersey Transit instituted in the 1990s.
NJ Transit local bus service is offered from the Morristown rail station, Morristown Medical Center and Headquarters Plaza on the 871, 872, 873, 874, 875 and 880 bus routes, replacing service that had been offered on the MCM1, MCM2, MCM3, MCM4, MCM8 and MCM10 routes until 2010, when subsidies to the local provider were eliminated as part of budget cuts.
The town’s Department of Public Works operates “Colonial Coach”, which provides free transportation within Morristown.
The Whippany Line of the Morristown and Erie Railway, a small freight line, traverses the township. Established in 1895, the line runs from Morristown and runs through East Hanover Township and Hanover Township to Roseland.
- One of only two heroic statues of Thomas Paine in the United States is located in Morristown, the other is found in Bordentown.
- One of the few statues depicting an unblindfolded Lady Justice adorns the facade of the Courthouse.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Morristown include:
- Kenny Agostino (born 1992), professional ice hockey player for the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League.
- Michael Ashkin (born 1955), artist known for sculptures, videos, photographs and installations depicting marginalized, desolate landscapes.
- William O. Baker (1915-2005), scientist who headed Bell Labs.
- Bonnie Lee Bakley (1956–2001), murdered wife of Robert Blake, was born in Morristown.
- Vincenzo Bernardo (born 1990), professional soccer player.
- Brendan Buckley, drummer.
- Lincoln Child (born 1957) author of techno-thriller and horror novels.
- George T. Cobb (1813–1870), represented New Jersey’s 4th congressional district from 1861 to 1863, and Mayor of Morristown from 1865 to 1869.
- Augustus W. Cutler (1827–1897), U.S. Representative from New Jersey.
- Joe Dante (born 1946), film director.
- Peter Dinklage (born 1969), actor.
- Caroline C. Fillmore (1813–1881), wife of President Millard Fillmore, was born in Morristown.
- Steve Forbes (born 1947), editor-in-chief of Forbes and two-time Republican candidate for President of the United States.
- Caroline Rose Foster (1877 – 1979), farmer and founder of Fosterfields, a working historical farm.
- Adam Gardner (born 1973), singer/songwriter/guitarist of the band Guster grew up in Morristown.
- Samuel Hazard Gillespie, Jr. (1910–2011), former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
- Justin Gimelstob (born 1977), professional tennis player.
- Anna Harrison (1775–1864), First Lady of the United States, wife of President William Henry Harrison and grandmother of President Benjamin Harrison.
- Linda Hunt (born 1945), the Academy Award winning actress, was born in Morristown.
- Otto Hermann Kahn (1867–1934), among the 76 millionaires listed in the 1896 Morristown Social Directory.
- Roger Wolfe Kahn (1907-1962), bandleader, composer, nightclub owner, aviator and Otto Kahn’s son, was born in Morristown.
- Anthony W. Knapp (born 1941), mathematician at the Stony Brook University working on representation theory who classified the tempered representations of a semisimple Lie group.
- Luther Kountze (1841–1918), banker who built an estate in Morristown in the late 1880s.
- Connor Lade (born 1989), soccer player for New York Red Bulls.
- Fran Lebowitz (born 1950), author.
- Dave Moore (born 1969), former NFL tight end.
- Troy Murphy (born 1980), professional basketball player.
- Thomas Nast (1840–1902), caricaturist and editorial cartoonist, lived in Morristown for more than 20 years.
- Craig Newmark (born 1952), founder of Craigslist was born in Morristown and attended Morristown High School.
- Neil O’Donnell (born 1966), former NFL quarterback, most notably for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- Sister Parish (1910–1994), interior decorator and socialite, most notably as the first interior designer brought in to decorate the Kennedy White House.
- Mahlon Pitney (1858-1924), Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
- Rick Porcello (born 1988), starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.
- Sarah Price (born 1969), author.
- Robert Randolph of Robert Randolph & the Family Band.
- Rocky Rees (born 1949), head football coach at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania from 1990 to 2010.
- Garrett Reisman (born 1968) NASA astronaut, first American to be on board of the International Space Station.
- Tony Scott (1921-2007), Bebop clarinetist, arranger, New World music innovator.
- Gene Shalit (born 1932), film critic on NBC‘s The Today Show.
- Alexander Slobodyanik (1941-2008), classical pianist.
- Lexington Steele (born 1969), pornographic actor, director and owner of Mercenary Motion Pictures and Black Viking Pictures.
- John Cleves Symmes (1742–1814), Delegate to the Continental Congress, pioneer responsible for the Symmes Purchase, Father-in-law of President William Henry Harrison.
- Jyles Tucker (born 1983), linebacker for the San Diego Chargers.
- Alfred Vail (1807–1859), inventor of the Morse code.
- Tom Verlaine (born 1949) songwriter, guitarist, and lead singer for the New York rock band Television.
- Daniel Spader Voorhees (1852-1935), New Jersey State Treasurer from 1907 to 1913.
- George Theodore Werts (1846–1910), 28th Governor of New Jersey from 1893 to 1896, who served as Mayor of Morristown from 1886 to 1892.
- Nancy Zeltsman (born 1958), jazz vibraphonist.