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Anderson Park, in Montclair, N.J., is a nearly 15-acre tranquil suburban oasis designed more than a century ago by the nationally renowned Olmsted Brothers firm. Its curving pathways and naturalistic ambiance reflect the aesthetic principles of Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect for Central Park in Manhattan, and it was designed by his stepson, John Charles Olmsted.

Anderson Park
Photo © Courtesy of Remi Riordan

The parkland was donated by Charles W. Anderson, an insurance executive and prominent Montclair resident, and in 1903 it became part of the pioneering Essex County Park Commission system. Extensive labor transformed swampy ground into meadows, playing fields and pathways shaded by trees and shrubs. The park opened in 1905 and became an inspiration to town leaders, inspiring a movement one year later to create a network of town parks.

Photo © Scot Surbeck

Today Anderson Park -- bordered on the north by Bellevue Avenue, on the south by The Parkside, on the west by North Mountain Avenue and on the east by railroad tracks - is a favorite among strollers, dog walkers, and children learning to ride bicycles. Its meadow is used for volleyball, soccer and lacrosse. The 3/5-mile of paved pathways attracts joggers and is wheelchair friendly. Bathrooms are at the southeast corner. Each fall the park is host to the popular Fine Arts and Crafts Show, and in the spring it is usually the host for Art in the Park. Year-round the park serves as a village green for the historic Upper Montclair shopping district nearby.

In the summer of 2006 the park enjoyed a $1 million makeover, acquiring more than 130 new trees and shrubs. Friends of Anderson Park is committed to furthering that rehabilitation in the spirit of the original Olmsted design.

Friends of Anderson Park is grateful for funding from The Montclair Foundation and a Special Projects Grant from the New JerseyHistorical Commission, a division of the Department of State.

Click here to view and /or download
National Register of Historic Places
Nomination Document (PDF)

Anderson Park Short Story Contest for Middle School Writers
Photo © Scot Surbeck
Celebrate four exceptional young Montclair authors with readings of their work and a celebration this Sunday, May 5, at Watchung Booksellers from 3 to 5 p.m. The winners of the Anderson Park Short Story Contest are Maxwell Kumahor ("Stand Up") of Buzz Aldrin Middle School; Juniper Shelley ("Walking") of Glenfield Middle School; and Madeleine Young ("What Happens After Dark: The Monsters of Anderson Park") of Glenfield. Suki Grabcheski ("Posie in Anderson Park") of Glenfield will receive the Olmsted Oak Award for the creative way she integrated Anderson Park into her story.

Actors will read the stories aloud at the Sunday ceremony, where the awards will be presented. About two dozen entries from Montclair middle school students were judged by nationally known local authors, several of them published by Scholastic Books.

Watchung Booksellers, host of the ceremony, is at 54 Fairfield Street in Montclair.

The contest is sponsored by Friends of Anderson Park and organized by board member Ann Anderson Evans, an author and a descendant of Charles W. Anderson, who donated the land for the Olmsted-designed Anderson Park. Each winner will receive $75.
Friends of Anderson Park at Work
  • Plant trees and shrubs guided by the historic Olmsted plan. Since 2006 we have planted more than 160 trees and 60 shrubs in partnership with Essex County, the park's owner.
  • Successfully nominated the park to the National Register of Historic Places, and prepared an in-depth history of this century-old park.
  • Apply for grants to further rehabilitate the park's historic landscape and interpret its history.
  • Consulted in design decisions to ensure that features such as lamp posts, pavers and bathrooms were compatible with the historic Olmsted design during a $1 million facelift by Essex County.
  • Hired a certified tree expert and worked with landscape historians and botanists to prepare a survey of the park's existing trees, consult historic planting maps and select species for future plantings.
  • Conduct an annual historic walking tour in May.
  • Educate and involve the community in the park's stewardship through clean-ups, public presentations and projects with service organizations.
  • Plan activities and events with an environmental focus for youth groups and children.