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.