The History of Madison Borough

Morris County, New Jersey


Madison is located on a ridge of the terminal moraine land extending from near Summit northwest toward Morristown. Low-lying wetlands are on either side of this ridge: the Great Swamp to the southwest and the Black Meadows/Troy Meadows area to the northeast. These lowlands are part of the remains of Lake Passaic (formed by melting ice as the glacier receded). Eventually the lake drained when the ice receded enough to reveal the Little Falls Gap.

There are many "potholes" in Madison, which mark the place where huge chunks of ice were left behind to melt, buried in the rubble which had been pushed forward by the glacier.

The ridge in the borough provided a natural route from the Short Hills gap in the Watchung Mountains to the higher country north and west of Morristown.


pre-colonial times the Lenape Indians lived in the area. The Minnisink Trail passed along what is now Kings Road.

1715 the earliest settlers arrived and established "Bottle Hill" at the crossroads of Ridgedale Avenue and Kings Road.

1730 Luke Miller house (at 105 Ridgedale Avenue) built. It is thought to be the oldest remaining home in the Borough.

1739 Morris County created. It was divided into three townships. The area in Madison north of Kings Road was in Hanover Township and the area to the south in Morris Township. Madison was known as South Hanover.

1747 A meeting house for the Presbyterian Church of Madison (South Hanover) built where the Presbyterian Cemetery still exists between Kings Road and Madison Avenue.

1804 the Morris Turnpike was established along the route of present Main Street.

1806 Chatham Township formed, comprising the present Madison, Chatham Borough, Chatham Township, and Florham Park. This ended the political division of the village.

1834 the name of the village was changed from South Hanover to Madison.

1837 the Morris and Essex railroad completed following the natural ridge through Madison. Madison prospered as a result.

1861-1865 Civil War.

after the Civil War Madison's growth accelerated. It earned the nick-name of The Rose City because of its flourishing rose growing industry. Development of "Millionaire's Row" stretching from downtown Madison to Morristown.

1867 Drew Theological Seminary founded. New York financier Daniel Drew pledged financial support for the institution. The seminary was located on a portion of the William Gibbons estate known as The Forest.

1889 with a population of 3,250 persons, Madison seceded from Chatham Township and became a borough in order to develop a local water supply system.

1928 the future Drew University admitted its first class of 12 students. The future university was created by the Drew Theological Seminary (after accepting a gift of $1.5 million from Arthur and Leonard Baldwin to build a college and to change the name of the institution to Drew University.)

1981 the Madison Housing Authority established. It built two senior citizen housing complexes and fifty townhouse units.

1990 Thomas H. Kean, former governor of New Jersey, became the president of Drew University.

Today Madison has a population of approximately 16,000.

Madison has the Madison-Florham Park Campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University and the College of St. Elizabeth. It is home to the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, the Playwright's Theater of New Jersey, the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts, and the Adult School of Chatham, Madison, and Florham Park.

Giralda Farms, a planned office development, occupies 175 acres of the former Dodge Estate in Madison.


Frank Benedict. About Madison. Rosenet. The Community Network for Madison, New Jersey.