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Madison, NJ History and Facts

by: Sue Adler
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Madison is a borough located in Morris County, New Jersey. In 2010, according to the United States Census Bureau, the population was 15,845.


Madison totals 4.218 square miles and is approximately 25 miles away from downtown Manhattan.


In 2000, Madison consisted of 16,530 people, 5,520 households and 3,786 families. The racial makeup of the population was 89.69 percent Caucasian, 3 percent African American, 0.13 percent Native American, 3.77 percent Asian, 0.23 percent Pacific Islander, 5.9 percent Latino, 1.55 percent from other races and 1.63 percent from two or more races.

The median household income was $82,847, and the median income for a family was $101,798. The median income for males was $62,303 versus $42,097 for females. The town’s per capita income was $38,416.


In 1739, Morris County was divided into three townships. The area of the village north of Kings Road was governed by Hanover Township, and the area to the south was governed by Morris Township. A meeting house for the Presbyterian Church located in South Hanover, which the city was called at that time, was developed in 1747, and the Presbyterian Cemetery still exists between Kings Road and Madison Avenue.

Following the American Revolution, the governing style within the former colonies began to change. It was during this time that the state of New Jersey formed its government.

In 1806, during the reorganization of Morris County, Chatham Township was formed as the governmental entity and included three pre-revolutionary villages, Chatham, Florham Park and Madison, which are current municipalities today.

In 1834, the name of the village was changed to Madison. Then, in 1889, in order to develop a local water supply system for its growing population, the village seceded from Chatham Township and adopted a borough form of government.

The rail system

After the civil war, Madison’s growth began to accelerate, and a railroad was built to provide more rapid transportation for farm produce grown in Madison. The rail service also helped to create a flourishing rose growing industry, which is why Madison is also known as The Rose City. The railroad also connected commerce in the area to markets in Manhattan.

The Morris and Essex Lines became one of the country’s first commuter railroads, attracting affluent families from Manhattan, many of whom already owned large parcels of land in the area for farming, hunting, and recreation.

The rail lines also contributed to the development of “Millionaire’s Row,” which stretched from downtown Madison to downtown Morristown. One of the first grand houses built on “Millionaire’s Row” was the Ross Estate. Talented horticulturalists were attracted to the area for employment at these wealthy estates.

Currently, New Jersey Transit’s Madison station provides commuter service on the Morristown Line, with trains heading to Hoboken Terminal and to Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan via the Kearny Connection.


Hartley Dodge Memorial, donated by Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, houses Madison’s local government. The city is governed under the borough form of New Jersey municipal government. It consists of a mayor and a borough council, comprised of six members.

Public schools

The Madison Public Schools serve students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. The schools in the district, based on 2009 and 2010 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics, consist of: Central Avenue School, Kings Road School, Torey J. Sabatini School, Madison Junior School and Madison High School.

Also students from Harding Township, New Jersey attend the district’s high school as part of a sending/receiving relationship with the Harding Township School District.

Private schools

Saint Vincent Martyr School (SVMS) is a Catholic parochial school and serves students from PK-3 through eighth grade. It is operated under the auspices of the Saint Vincent Parish and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson.

Higher education

In 1856, Seton Hall College was established in Madison. In the late 1800s, the campus was relocated from Madison to its current location in South Orange, New Jersey. Drew University was founded in 1867 and the campus is still in its original location. A portion of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s College at Florham is located in Madison on the former Vanderbilt estate.


Madison’s downtown is supported by the Madison Downtown Development Commission and a downtown manager. There are many historical buildings within this community. The Madison Civic Commercial Historic District, which includes many parts of downtown, borough hall and the train station, is listed in the State Register of Historic Places.


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