The region passed from Indian to Colonial possession by purchase on October 28, 1664 for "twenty fathoms of trading cloth, two made coats, two guns, two kettles, ten bars of lead and twenty handfuls of powder."
Summit's earliest settlers came here about 1710. Most of the founding fathers brought Puritan heritage from the British Isles, and from neighboring New England, Connecticut and Long Island. Finding a true paradise, the Summit area was abundant in timber for building cabins, rabbits for food and pelts, plentiful turkey, and a fertile valley for growing wheat and corn. Plus the Passaic River was full of fish to eat and water to float boats.
Where did "Summit" get its name?
In 1837, the railroad came over the "The Summit" hill, whose name was later shortened to Summit. During the Revolutionary period and for some time afterwards Summit was called the "Heights over Springfield" and was considered a part of New Providence. The original name of Summit was "Turkey Hill" to mark it apart from "Turkey", as New Providence was known until 1750.
In 1869, Summit separated itself from New Providence and became the "Township of Summit". Thirty years later on April 11 1899, The City of Summit was incorporated.
Originally, Summit was a cozy farming community populated by about 300 people until 1837. The community began to change from rural farming and milling to quasi-commercial. After the Civil War, Summit became a summer resort area because of its crisp, clean mountain air and convenient proximity to New York City. Summit attracted extremely wealthy people who built extensive summer estates.
The landscape has had a definite influence in the development of Summit. This tree-dense suburban community is nestled in the hills of the Watchung Reservation with six square miles of broken hills at a 450-foot elevation. Summit sits above Springfield, to the west of Millburn, and just northwest, Chatham joins Summit to pinch the broad valley of the Passaic River.
Summit boasts numerous rail and bus links to Newark and Manhattan, Routes 24 and 78 and the Garden State Parkway and Newark-Liberty International Airport. The Mid-town Direct train is a 30-minute express ride to Penn Station. The City of Summit has numerous parking garages and ample parking for resident commuters and downtown employees.
Summit's Downtown Business District is a tapestry of retail and commercial businesses with an abundance of specialty and gift shops, clothing stores, home furnishings, restaurants, bakeries, fine wine outlets, a movie theater and ample parking all within short walking distances.
Education is a Priority for Summit
The schools of Summit-public, private and parochial-have continually molded good and able young people with 92 % of the students going onto college, contributing much to the community's development. Just recently, Summit High School was ranked the 6th best high school in the State of New Jersey. Many students return to live and raise a family in their hometown of Summit.
Public School District: 125 Kent Place Blvd., 908-273-1494
Summit's public education system includes two (2) kindergarten primary centers and five (5) first through grade fifth elementary schools, a middle school for grades six to eight, and Summit High School.
A Overall Niche Grade
Arts, Environment, Recreational & Cultural Enrichment
Summit has numerous playing fields to include baseball, football, soccer, basketball, tennis, running track and a 9-par Golf Course and a Municipal Pool.
Artistic and cultural traditions are strong in Summit, with its roots in the visual arts dating back to Worthington Whittredge, a painter of the Hudson River School who lived in Summit from 1880 - 1910. The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is a commitment to the arts offering cultural activities, ranging from art exhibits and jazz concerts to courses for budding artists.
For nature lovers, the Reeves-Reed Arboretum is a great place to visit with formal gardens and woodlands on its 12.5 acres site and is a New Jersey Registers of Historic Places. Nature classes and seasonal events are available for both children and adults.
Overlook Hospital was founded in 1906 as a 30-bed private hospital on its present site. In 1914, Overlook became a public institution and now serves as one of the leading hospitals in the New York metropolitan area.
The Grand Summit Hotel, originally known as the Blackburn, played an important role in drawing people to Summit for summer retreats in Summit's early years and continues to be a preferred dining and hotel destination.
The Summit Historical Society is housed in the town's oldest house built in 1747 located at 90 Butler Parkway which is also the home of the town archives.
The Summit Opera House was erected in 1894 as a "dry entertainment" hall and currently functions as multiple purpose business and entertainment venue.
Dreamcatcher Rep Theatre
Township of Summit Telephone Directory
Town Hall: 512 Springfield Avenue 908-277-9400
City Clerk 908-273-6400
Community Programs 908-277-2932
Community Services 908-273-6404
Planning & Zoning 908-273-6407
Public Works 908-273-6404
Emergency Management 908-277-1033
Tax Assessor 908-273-6405
Tax Collector's Office 908-273-6403
Fire Department 908-277-1033
Health / Vital Statistics 908-277-6464
Mayor’s Office 908-273-6400
Court / Traffic Violations 908-273-6112
Parking Services 908-522-5100
Auxiliary Police 908-273-0051
New Jersey American Water: 800-272-1325
Jersey Central Power & Light: 888-544-4877
Area Private Schools
Far Brook, Short Hills
Pingry, Short Hills & Martinsville
The Winston School, Short Hills
Newark Academy, Livingston
Joseph Kushner, Livingston
Morristown Beard, Morristown
Peck School, Morristown
Golda Ochs Academy, West Orange
Seton Hall Prep, West Orange
St. Rose of Lima, Short Hills
St. Vincent Martyr School, Madison
Continuing and Higher Education
Drew University, Madison
Fairleigh Dickinson University, A portion of Florham campus is in Madison
The College of Saint Elizabeth, Florham Park.
Kean University, Union
County College of Morris, Randolph
Seton Hall University, South Orange
Union County College, Cranford