About Chatham, NJ
Chatham is actually two co-joined towns – Chatham Borough and Chatham Township. Both share a common heritage and are often referred to by their shared name, Chatham. These two quiet picturesque residential communities are 25 miles west of New York City. Chatham Borough is a smaller community of 2.4 square miles and Chatham Township is the larger with 9.3 square miles.
Twenty thousand years ago, the melting Wisconsin Glacier slowly retreated north, leaving behind Lake Passaic in the curves of the Watchung Mountains. The land that is now Chatham was at the bottom of that lake, nearly 160 feet below the surface. The only visible sign of what would become Chatham was a long island formed by the top of the hill at Fairmount Avenue. Lake Passaic drained into the sea when an ice cap melted. The Passaic River slowly made its winding path through the marshlands. Eventually the land became habitable, roamed by mastodons and other prehistoric animals.
The Lenni Lenape Indians were the first people to settle in the area over six thousand years ago. In 1680 Sir George Carteret paid the Lenni Lenape Indians for the land and named it Chatham after the English Prime Minister, Sir William Pitt, Earl of Chatham. The Morris and Essex Railroad came to Chatham in 1837. Chatham’s reputation as a fine, healthy place to live brought a community of bustling tourist trade.
Chatham offers the perfect blend of historical ambiance and today’s finest amenities with an array of quaint shops and restaurants and abundant recreational facilities (golf, tennis, etc.) It is a 5 minute drive to the Short Hills Mall, featuring Nordstroms, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s and hundreds of upscale designer boutiques. There are also excellent shopping facilities and restaurants available along Chatham’s Main Street, and nearby in downtown Madison and Summit as well as at the Hickory Tree Shopping Center in Chatham Township.
The Chatham schools are some of New Jerseys finest. The district is built on successful cooperation among family, school and community.
Cultural opportunities include historical, art, garden and musical groups, as well as the facilities and programs of neighboring Drew and Fairleigh Dickinson universities.
The Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center, located on 247 Southern Blvd., features exhibits, educational programs, hiking, and canoeing. The Nature Center houses a reference library, and auditorium, two classrooms, and natural history displays. Weekend family programming, trail walks, and workshops are scheduled on a seasonal basis. A mile of trail, much of it on neat boardwalks and an observation blind with real wildlife cavorting in the distance are some of the attractions here.
The Chatham Historical Society celebrates Chatham’s local heritage bringing together those who are interested in learning about the history of this town. It also preserves artifacts and records of historical interest relating to the development of Chatham. The historical society prepares programs, articles and books on matters of local interest and preserves the town’s historic character. Publications put out by the Chatham Historical Society are available for loan or sale at the Library of the Chathams.
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