The history of Livingston
In 1702, settles from Newark purchased a tract of land, which encompassed the areas known today as Caldwell, Livingston and West Essex. Because the tract resembled the shape of a horse’s neck, the area was named “horse neck”. A major controversy immediately arose over the ownership of the land. The settlers claimed that the land belonged to them since they had negotiated with the Indians for it, while the Proprietors of the Eastern Division of New Jersey, backed by the English Crown, claimed the region as theirs under the royal title. Riots broke out and the bitterness continued until 1776, when the issue was finally settled during the American Revolution.
In 1811, seven hamlets got together and petitioned the legislature for the formation of a new township. On February 5,1813, the legislature adopted the formation of the township of Livingston, which included the small villages of Centerville, Cheapside, Morehousetown, Northfield, Squiretown, Teedtown, and Washington Place. The new Township was named in honor of William Livingston, the first Governor of New Jersey, who had supported the settler’s claims during the House neck riots.
Farming & lumbering were the main sources of income for the Township, although shoemaking was a major industry in the area during the civil War. The dairy business became Livingston’s leading industry after the civil War and remained so well into the 20th century. Milk delivery wagons from Livingston made daily rounds in Orange and Newark.
The Township was linked to the market in Orange and Newark by roads, which today are still the town’s main arteries. Northfield Road, which is an extension of the Indian Minisink Trail, is thought to be the oldest thoroughfare. In 1806, the Newark and Mt. Pleasant Turnpike, now known as Route 10, became one of New Jersey’s first turnpikes.
Because it was located between primary rail lines and was also on the wrong side of the mountains, Livingston’s population grew slowly. From 1813 to 1920, the population had only grown from 1,000 to 1,500.
The area changed into a commuter’s suburb following the construction of hard-surfaced highways. Housing developments began in the 1920’s and by 1930; Livingston’s population had doubled. Today, Livingston is a developed community, which has nearly reached its targeted population of 35,000.
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