The Rose City
Once known as Bottle Hill, the historic 4-square mile Borough of Madison has tree-lined streets and beautiful homes that cater to an affluent community of just over 16,000 people. It's no surprise that in the most recent niche.com survey, Madison was ranked #74 in the category of Best Places to Live in New Jersey. With the excellent bus and train services available, the town is a frequent choice for executives and businesspeople who make the daily commute to New York City. In fact, the opening of the Madison railroad station along the Morris and Essex line in 1837 began the transformation of a charming village to the vibrant commuter hub today.
Madison is nicknamed "The Rose City," because its residents once grew roses in hothouses and supplied them to New York's florist trade. By some estimates, millions of roses were sent from Madison to the City each year. Although the last hothouses closed in the 1970s, the nickname remains today. The designation Bottle Hill was due to the existence of a tavern at the intersection of the King's Road and Ridgedale Avenue that served travelers en route to Morristown and Hanover Neck. Given the historic roots of the town, in 1993, a Historic Preservation Committee was formed to help preserve the character and usage of the township.
In 2004, the New York Times featured an article on Madison, New Jersey, A Town Right Out of Central Casting.
With an overall A+ rating in Niche, Madison has highly-rated schools and is ranked #4 in the Best Places to Live in Morris County:
Madison Public Schools received an enviable A+ rating in the latest niche.com survey. In fact, Madison High School was rated #74 in the category of Best College Prep Public High Schools in New Jersey. The curriculum for the district is varied and strong with extensive courses in the arts and sciences. There are also gifted and talented programs as well as 18 Advanced Placement (AP) courses in the high school. According to the most recent US News & World Report High Schools Rankings, 64% of students at the high school participate in APs. And across the K-12 district, the average class size ranges from 19-22 students.
Along with the academics, another strength of the Madison Public Schools is an emphasis on visual and performing arts. In addition to art and music classes, there are options in band, orchestra, and chorus by middle school. There are theater and music appreciation courses. Beyond the public school system, Madison is home to both Drew University and the Fairleigh Dickinson University Florham Campus.
Commuting To and From Madison
Madison has a stop on the Midtown Direct train line making the commute into New York City a breeze. On the Morristown Line, commuters can travel directly to New York Penn Station. The Gladstone Line is another option taking commuters to Hoboken where they can pick up PATH trains to New York or the NY Waterway. There are two commuter parking lots for residents with permits available from the Madison police department.
Another convenient alternative for Madison residents is the Lakeland Bus which runs through neighboring Summit or New Providence. The bus takes riders to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. And for people interested in driving to work, Madison offers easy access to many major highways including Route 24, I-78 and the Garden State Parkway.
For more specific information on commuting from Madison, New Jersey, see our Commuting page.
Parks & Recreation
In 1898, James Park was the first public grounds donated to the town of Madison. There is a Veterans' Memorial Walk with monuments dedicated to those that served, died or were wounded in military conflicts and wars. Another beautiful area is Summerhill Park, an expansive 64-acre park with a history that ties into Madison's nickname as the Rose City. In the 1900s, the Stemmler family owned a home on the grounds with numerous hothouses for roses. The town of Madison purchased the property along with 13 others in 1973 and now maintains the park, which became known as Summerhill Park in the 1980s.
Memorial Park is a 64-acre park used for many of the Madison recreation programs, and the smaller Dodge Park has a popular playground and additional ball fields. For residents that love gardening, Madison has a community garden in the Madison recreation complex. The garden offers assistance from Rutgers Master Gardeners and has an on-site honey bee yard. With three cooperative hives, interested residents can join the Beekeeping Club and help support and maintain the bee population.
Madison has a bustling downtown with great food and lots of fun things to do. A favorite of the locals, Shanghai Jazz combines jazz music with Asian-inspired cuisine. In 2015, the restaurant received the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence. A popular casual eatery is Slamwich Scratch Kitchen offering a selection of sandwiches, or Signature Slammys, and salads. After a great meal, there is an entertainment venue called Stryxe offering bowling, games, wood-fired pizza and drinks.
For the outdoors type, Madison has the Rosedale Skating Rink where residents can enjoy ice skating in the winter. The recreation department also organizes a ski club for Madison and Harding children in grades 5 to 8. There is a variety of athletic programming for all seasons including soccer, track, basketball, lacrosse, and a host of other sports. Summer brings popular kids camps including Nature Nuts, an elementary school-age camp with a different nature theme each week and games, crafts, walks, and talks for the children.
For theater-goers, there are two prominent venues in Madison – Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey and Writers Theatre of NJ – both of which give the town an artsy vibe. For educational programs and exhibits, the Museum of Early Trades & Crafts is always worth a visit.