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Welcome to Essex County Online
EAGLE ROCK RESERVATION

Click here to visit the Eagle Rock Reservation Conservancy,
 our partner to preserve and maintain our reservation.

HOST COMMUNITIES:  WEST ORANGE

First known as Fairmount when it became a Township in 1862.  The new name was adopted in 1863. The town is third in the county in area.

ACREAGE
408.33

LOCATION
Prospect Ave. & Eagle Rock Ave., West Orange
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HISTORIC PROFILE


THE CASINO, 1914

Eagle Rock Reservation is a 408.33-acre tract of wooded land located in the central section of Essex County on the crest of Watchung's First Mountain.  The mountain got its name in the early 19th century, when bald eagles were said to nest in the rocky cliffs on the eastern edge.  The reservation is primarily undeveloped, and is laced with bridle paths and hiking trails.  Lookout Point provides visitors with a spectacular view of the New York skyline

The first purchase of land took place in 1895, and the entire tract was finally assembled in 1907.  Frederick Law Olmsted created a preliminary design for the reservation which was further developed by the Olmsted Firm in the early 1900's.

A historic structure that sat on the crest is the old casino built in 1911.  This was an open masonry shelter with a series of arches.  It has since been transformed into the Highlawn Pavilion restaurant.  This saved the structure, which had been subject to vandalism and slated for demolition.  (The term "casino" refers to an Italian style county dwelling or summer house.)

In 1894, the trolley line to the foot of Eagle Rock Avenue had been placed in operation. This line was an extension of the Washington Street end of the Orange Crosstown and ran via Washington Street to its own right-of-way along what are now Watchung Avenue, Chestnut Street, Oxford Place, and Cherry Street to Harrison Avenue and via that street to its intersection with Eagle Rock Avenue.  The idea behind the construction of the Eagle Rock line was to provide cheap transportation to Eagle Rock, which had become a Mecca for Sunday picnickers because of its high elevation and magnificent view of the growing metropolitan area. The promoters of the Eagle Rock line realized the impracticality of running a trolley to the top of the ridge because of the excessive grade. Instead, they counted upon their patrons' climbing the last hundred feet up a zigzag path constructed along the side of the cliff.

The park was a famous spot where week-enders congregated.  Visitors would travel by trolly from New York, transfer in Newark, take another trolly via the Orange line to Harrison Avenue where passengers either walked up the mountain to the top or transferred to the Eagle Rock line.
                                                                              
Automobile enthusiasts of that period held races up the cobblestone roadway of Eagle Rock Avenue terminating in Eagle Rock Park

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CURRENT IMPROVEMENTS

  • Radio Tower
    Completed in 2005
  • Construction of gazebo, entrance upgrades, pathway improvements, landscaping and traffic safety enhancements
    Cost: $982,000 Completed in 2009
  • Expansion of the Essex County Eagle Rock September 11th Memorial to include a monument dedicated to the Flight Crews
    Cost: Donated Completed in 2009
  • Installation of five enclosures in which native vegetative species are planted to accelerate the regrowth of the forest understory
    Cost: $726,049 Completed in 2010
  • Expansion of the Essex County Eagle Rock September 11th Memorial to include a steel and concrete artifact from the World Trade Center
    Cost: Donated Completed in 2011
  • Expansion of the Essex County Eagle Rock September 11th Memorial to include a monument dedicated to EMS personnel
    Cost: Donated Completed in 2011
  • Modernization of walking path from Prospect Avenue to Mountain Avenue
    Cost: 228,228 Completed in 2013


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DISTINGUISHING FEATURES

  • Unrivaled view of the New York City skyline from the George Washington Bridge to the Verrazano Bridge.
  • The "Old Casino" located at the edge of the cliff, now converted into the Highlawn Pavilion restaurant, noted for its excellent cuisine and spectacular view.
  • September 11, 2001, Memorial.  Sculpture and plaza commemorate the location where hundreds viewed the 9/11 tragedy.
  • Bridle paths / horseback riding.
  • Hiking trails.
  • Picnic area.
  • Softball diamond.
  • Habitat to a wide range of flora and fauna.
  • Predominantly a red oak forest, with a unique red maple wetland in the northern  section of the tract.

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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

From New Jersey: Take Route 280 West to Exit 8/Prospect Avenue. Turn right onto Eagle Rock Avenue. Turn left into the Reservation. Memorial is straight ahead.

From New York: George Washington Bridge or Lincoln Tunnel to New Jersey Turnpike South. Take Exit 15W for Route 280 West. Follow above directions.

Use the intersection of “Prospect Avenue and Eagle Rock Avenue” when obtaining driving directions from the Internet.

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PARK MAP
View the park.

To print the park map (pdf) you will need the adobe acrobat reader. This image is 100 dpi, ensuring clear printing and requires a short download time.
Download Viewer

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Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs
115 Clifton Ave, Newark, NJ 07104 ~ (T) 973-268-3500 ~ (F) 973-481-5302
 
If you have any comments on features you would like to see on this site or any other feedback, please email: joedi@admin.essexcountynj.org