South Orange is a suburban township in the New York Metropolitan Area located in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. South Orange Village dates back to May 4, 1869, when it was formed within South Orange Township (now Maplewood). On March 4, 1904, the Village of South Orange was created by an act of the New Jersey Legislature and separated from South Orange Township. In 1981, the name was changed to “South Orange Village Township” to take advantage of federal revenue sharing policies. The change was intended to allow South Orange to qualify for a pool of federal aid allocated to municipalities that allowed townships to receive as much as double the revenue-sharing aid per capita received by the four other types of New Jersey municipalities — borough, city, town or village.
Architecture is extremely varied. Most of the town is single-family wood framed houses, but there are a few apartment buildings from various eras as well as townhouse-style condominiums of mostly more recent vintage. Houses cover a range that includes every common style of the Mid-Atlantic United States since the late nineteenth century, and in sizes that range from brick English Cottages to giant Mansard-roofed mansions. Tudor, Victorian, Colonial, Ranch, Modern, and many others are all to be found. Most municipal government structures date from the 1920s, with a few being of more modern construction.
The Baird, located in Meadowland Park, is the center for the South Orange Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs, housing the department’s administrative offices. Most of the department’s programs are housed in The Baird or in adjoining Meadowland Park. The center offers arts programs, including the Pierro Gallery of South Orange, The Theater on 3, and other arts spaces, along with preschool and other educational, arts and recreational programming. The Baird hosts events together with SOPAC, including the long-running Giants of Jazz concert series.
The town has a municipal swimming pool open to all residents. In most area communities, municipal pool memberships are restricted or costly, but the pool in South Orange was built on land willed by a wealthy resident to the town for common use and under the terms of the deal the pool had to remain inexpensive for the residents, who may purchase a Photo I.D. badge for an annual fee of $35, which provides access to the South Orange Community Pool and full access to other community facilities and programs; non-residents may use the pool for a small fee on a per visit basis on a guest pass that must be purchased by a resident. The original pool, built in the 1920s, is among the first free community pool to be built in the United States, and was replaced by an Olympic-size pool in 1972.