Livingston, NJ – History and Facts
Region Rich in History
Livingston is a township located in Essex County, New Jersey. The latest census figures shows it to have a population just slightly under 30,000. The population has grown some 7% in the last decade. The New York Legislature granted Livingston township status on February 5, 1813. It was created by slicing portions from several adjacent townships: Caldwell, Fairfield, Springfield, Union, Fairmount, and Roseland.
Livingston bears the name of the first governor of New Jersey, William Livingston. The family coat of arms was selected to be the seal for the city. Livingston can trace its roots back to 1699 when 101 settlers from Newark moved west into the region. They purchased a section of land called the Horseneck Tract from native tribes. The land included property that lies in several townships to the north. Ownership rights were disputed for several years until a deed was finally settled on in 1702 setting the sale price at $130 pounds in the English currency in use. Disputes however continued with English land owners who continued to press claims. After a house fire destroyed the original title in 1745, the land owners tried to evict the settlers. William Livingston who owned property in the area sided with the settlers and defended them from being obliged to pay rent to the aristocratic owners.
Timothy Meeker led a protest movement against the British property owners. Riots were routinely held throughout the Horseneck Tract during the decade of 1745 to 1755. The protestors evolved into the first colonial militia. For the next 32 years, right up until the time of the Revolutionary War, they fought with British forces until the band became part of the Continental Army.
Nationhood Brings Stability
Once the war was over, permanent settlement began with the construction of the first school in 1783. Filing papers for incorporation into a township were submitted by the 100 some residents in the area in 1811. Township status was finally achieved on February 5 of 1813. The first township meeting was held the very same day.
Throughout the 19th Century, timber production and agriculture were the major industries in the area. The town began to grow rapidly in the 1920’s spurred by the introduction of the automobile into American life. Livingston became a desirable suburb of Newark. The township now is seen as a desirable commuter suburb of New York City. It retains a rich tradition of community volunteerism. The school system is highly regarded and acts as a lure for many new residents.
Livingston covers about 14 square miles. There are some 750 housing units per square mile. The township has five council members who serve four year terms. There is also a city manager. The township is split between two congressional districts, the 5th and 11th. The region tends to vote for Democrats.
Livingston has a symphony orchestra made up of local players. It also has a community theater group and a children’s theater. The New Jersey Ballet Company is headquartered in Livingston, New Jersey.