Cultured, cosmopolitan and quaint – that’s Madison, which is also home to two universities. It attracts professionals commuting to New York and to some of the big name companies located nearby, including Novartis, Kraft, Schering-Plough and Wyeth. Its popular moniker, Rose City, derives from bygone days when Madison was famous for the beautiful roses raised at nurseries in and around the town.
The Madison Public Schools system is rightly praised for the great all-round education it offers. The district is committed to delivering a curriculum that challenges the brightest students while supporting those with different learning needs and styles.
For elementary pupils there are three neighborhood schools: Kings Road, Central Avenue, and Torey J. Sabatini. Pupils come together at Madison Junior School for grades 7-8, and high school students attend Madison High School.
Madison High School was recently praised by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools for providing “a rich, broad and diverse educational program" for its students. It offers four world languages (Spanish, French, German, & Italian) and16 Advanced Placement courses, including calculus, computer science, and environmental health. In addition to the rich academic environment, the school is proud of the many character and service opportunities for students. There are dozens of clubs and 23 interscholastic sports. Madison High School features 45 athletic teams in 18 sports and they have clinched an array of conference, county and state titles. Every year its music students are chosen for regional and state select performing groups. Madison High School recently completed a construction project providing additional facilities and space for both curricular and extra-curricular programs.
Additional construction work at Madison Junior School made room for transitioning the sixth grade out of the elementary schools and into the Junior School.
Madison is home to two universities: at Drew University there are around 2,500 students based at the College of Liberal Arts, the Drew Theological School and the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies in the 186-acre wooded campus. The classically collegiate Madison-Florham Park Campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University is nationally and internationally renowned for its research, academic leadership and innovative curricula. It is home to more than 2,400 undergraduates and over 1,100 students.
An amazing advantage of living in a place so steeped in academia is the opportunity extended to local people by the universities. Sample the Drew University Minicourses at Madison public library or hear a world-class public lectures from speakers such as Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger, Al Gore, Rudy Gullianni, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Colin Powell.
Fairleigh Dickinson’s Community program includes the Institute for Lifelong Learning, which aims to enrich the lives of senior citizens through cultural, educational and social activities. For a small fee, members may join undergraduate or graduate courses - and there are day trips, art classes, line dancing and aerobics, as well as a repertory company which entertains in area nursing homes and hospitals.
The popular Adult School of Chatham, Madison, and Florham Park offers a fabulous selection of classes in everything from arts and crafts, through to challenging courses in business and legal issues.
There’s plenty to keep the kids stimulated and happy outside of school in Madison, from the Summer Institute for the Gifted at Drew University and the academic and computer classes at Imagine Tomorrow, to the Language Workshop for Children. More great activities are at Oasis Summer Day Camp and the Madison YMCA.
From Madison Station in the center of town, commuters can take NJ Transit’s Midtown Direct service, reaching New York Penn Station in around 50 minutes. Madison is on the Morristown branch of the Morris and Essex Line, with trains for the Hoboken terminal and connections to lower New York City.
There’s parking in nearby lots. Parking permits for commuters and residents are administered by Madison Police Department; the application form can be downloaded from the website. Bike racks are also available at the station.
For just $1 a trip the Last MileShuttle/Madison runs between Madison Railroad Station and East Hanover, stopping at several work locations in the area, including Novartis and Kraft Foods. The Morris County Metro bus travels between Madison, Livingston and Greystone Park, stopping at Livingston Mall, Short Hills Mall, Chatham, Morristown and Morris Plains en route.
By car, Routes 24 and 287, I-78, the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway are all within easy access. Newark Liberty Airport, a major continental and international gateway, is a 25 minute drive away. Madison is also just ten minutes by car to Morristown Municipal Airport
Other nearby mass transport options are the Ferry, the Lakeland Bus and the Community Coach, which takes you straight to NYC or Atlantic City from nearby stops.
Data compiled from the GSMLS. Deemed reliable, but not guaranteed. Sue feels that if you are in the market to buy or sell real estate in Madison, it is important to understand the trends in Active Listings, Days on the Market, and Listing to Sale Price ratio so that you can make an educated decision
|8 James Pl||$350,000||$350,000||$375,000||2||2||Ranch||107%||11|
|15 Niles Ave||$473,000||$473,000||$463,000||3||2||CapeCod||98%||23|
|20 Stonehedge Lane||$589,900||$589,900||$635,000||4||2.1||Bi-Level||108%||8|
|164 Shunpike Rd||$600,000||$600,000||$583,000||4||2.1||SplitLev||97%||22|
|30 Sherwood Avenue||$699,000||$699,000||$675,000||4||1.1||Colonial||97%||14|
|102 Greenwood Ave||$859,000||$859,000||$859,000||4||3.1||Victrian||100%||6|
|99 Madison Ave||$1,299,000||$1,299,000||$1,135,000||5||3.2||Colonial||87%||48|
|58 Union Hill Rd||$1,335,000||$1,335,000||$1,335,000||5||4||Colonial||100%||9|
The cultural line up at Madison is extraordinarily rich and diverse, thanks largely to its status as a two-university town. It has two of the five professional live theater companies in the whole state of New Jersey. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey on campus at Drew University hosts Madison’s annual Shakespeare Festival as well as staging fine performances throughout the year. The Playwright's Theater of New Jersey on Green Village Road is a community of professional playwrights, theatre artists, and arts educators who develop new plays. There are classes and workshops for adults and children and an exciting kids’ summer program.
The marvelous acoustics at the state-of-the-art Concert Hall at Drew University attract world class performers. Drew also hosts a summer jazz festival. Fairleigh-Dickinson University supports Opera at Florham - a professional company in residence. Also, several of Madison’s churches play host to fabulous gospel choirs from around the North East.
Two art galleries, the Korn at Drew and the Library Gallery at Fairleigh-Dickinson, are open to the public. For a clear picture of what it was like to live in New Jersey in the 18th and 19th centuries, take a trip back in time at the Museum of Early Trades & Crafts in downtown Madison.
If you are a dab hand with a paintbrush or pottery wheel, head over to Creative Hands Art Studio which gives lessons to students from the ages of 3 ½ to adult; they also host birthday parties.
The four-screen Clearview Madison Movie Theater in Lincoln Place is convenient for bars, restaurants and parking.
For a full calendar of what’s on currently, check out Madison Arts and Culture Alliance.
If you love fresh air and wide open spaces then Madison has plenty to offer. In addition to the many parks, picnic areas and playgrounds maintained by Madison Borough, visitors are free to wander through the Zuck Arboretum at Drew University. This wonderful woodland retreat has two small ponds where you can study the turtles, goldfish, catfish and muskrats, as well as migrating Canada geese, ducks and herons.
Just over the border in neighboring Chatham is the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, one of the largest National Wildlife Refuges ever created so close to an urban center. The refuge is a resting and feeding area for more than 244 species of birds as well as foxes, deer, muskrat, turtles, fish, frogs and a wide variety of wildflowers and plants. Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center runs numerous special events and programs where visitors can learn about this living, breathing botanical and zoological resource. And you can hold birthday parties there too. It’s open every day of the year during daylight hours.
Everyone’s a winner when it comes to sports in Madison. There’s an amazing variety to choose from. Madison Recreation Department facilities include six lighted tennis courts, baseball and softball fields, nature/fitness trails, a lighted outside ice skating area, lighted football field, lighted soccer field and three basketball courts – as well as facilities for lacrosse, hockey, and track and field. Or, you can work up steam at the Madison Area YMCA where there are fitness programs for all ages and sports ranging from start-small golf for 3-4 year olds, to basketball, karate, soccer and dodgeball. The McLoughlin Soccer school is a favorite with boys and girls alike.
Madison Community Pool is open to residents and limited non-residents. For family swim, lessons, and swim team, or just socializing in the sunshine. Madison Golf Club on Green Avenue is a private 9-hole club and there is also a lovely course at Fairmount Country Club in neighboring Chatham.
There’s an annual 10k run around the landscaped grounds of the Giralda Farms business park. And on Saturday mornings you can get in step with Rose City Runners for their weekend run followed by breakfast. For exercise at a slightly slower pace try the Rose City Steppers.
South Mountain Martial Arts school teaches judo, jujitsu, kenpo, sambo, and fencing to students from 10 years of age to 65, and check out the Traditional Okinawan Martial Arts for children and adults too.
Eastern disciplines of a calmer variety are found at the Dahn Yoga Center and Studio Yoga. Locally recommended gyms include Curves of Madison on Kings Road and Bronco’s Gym , where there is personal training for adults and an after school program for 12-18 year olds.
The quaint town center has some of the trendiest restaurants around, drawing locals from all over. Shanghai Jazz is a fusion of Great American Jazz and Gourmet Asian Cuisine, and has two dinner seatings on live jazz nights. It has had rave reviews in the media and Zagat survey and it has been named “NJ’s Top Jazz Club” by Downbeat Magazine.
Il Mondo Vecchio on Main Street is one of my favorite casual Italian restaurants, while Terra Mare serves Mediterranean specialties such as fresh fish, other seafood, live lobsters and Old World traditional favorite dishes; it also has a take-out menu. I love Soho 33 for a lively night out with friends. The creative food and energetic atmosphere has earned it a Zagat listing. For something more homely, sample the Rose City Grille on Central Avenue, popular with families and students yearning for dishes like Mom used to make.
Indian dishes from the Begum Palace always set the tastebuds tingling. They say follow your nose to the Garlic Rose where the ubiquitous bulb flavors almost everything – I even heard they serve garlic ice cream! The hand tossed pizza at Romanellis is legendary and this child friendly restaurant also does take-out and delivery. If it’s a light bite you are looking for, head on over to Fat Boy Subs and Salads on Main Street. And be sure to stop at McCool’s Ice Cream Parlor, a Madison institution said to make the best milk shakes in the whole of New Jersey.
If you're looking for a fabulous French restaurant, check out Resto on Main St. - an unpretentious yet sophisticated spot. The chef/owner focuses on seasonal and local ingredients so the menu is ever changing. A versatile assortment of classic dishes and decadent desserts, but if you are yearning for a glass of bordeaux to compliment your meal you will need to BYO.
Madison is the perfect blend of old fashioned charm and modern convenience. The historic business district has over 50 buildings listed on the State and National Registers of Historic places, many of them independent mom and pop shops. The east of the historic district, on Main Street, is where you can find big name stores and car dealerships.
Head for the center of town for chic boutiques for adults and children, home furnishings and house wares, antiques, jewelry and books. For laid back California style, check out the San Francisco Clothing Boutique on Green Village Road. New Leaf Consignment on Park Avenue has an awesome selection of women’s designer clothes and accessories, as well as gifts and household items. Just along the road, the cutest things for kids are over at Bunnies and Bears on Main Street. It is said that Angelina Jolie was fitted out in vintage clothes from Time After Time on Main Street for "The Good Shepherd," and just around the corner near Waverly Place is another gem, Once and Again, selling more gorgeous vintage clothes, accessories and antiques.
One of Madison’s most extraordinary retailers must be the Birdhouse at Madison, a real flight of fancy where art and nature meet under one roof. The store specializes in all things avian but you can also go there for the art studio, music lessons, classes and workshops. Rose City’s glorious horticultural past is reflected in several garden centers, including J&M Home and Garden - the place to go for covetable furnishings, ornaments and gifts as well as plants - or Coviello Brothers further along Main Street.
Gourmets are well catered for in the town with a large Whole Foods supermarket on Main Street and, nearby, one of the area’s best food and wine stores - Gary’s Wine and Marketplace. Gary’s team travels to the wine-producing regions of the world in search of the best producers, and the staff are always friendly and knowledgeable. Madison Farmers’ Market brings a taste of the country to town on Thursday afternoons from June to October at Madison High School on Ridgedale Avenue through till August, and at the Madison Community Pool on Rosedale Avenue during September and October.