in Union County, New Jersey
. Incorporated in 1808 from a bunch of farmland
One of the larger (area-wise) municipalities in the county at 9.1 square miles. It is bordered on the east by Elizabeth, NJ and Hillside, NJ, on the west by Springfield, NJ, on the south by Roselle Park, NJ and Kenilworth, NJ, and on the north by Essex County, NJ's Maplewood, NJ, Irvington, NJ, and Millburn, NJ. It is situated approximately 18 miles southeast of Manhattan. Latitude is 40.695300 and longitude is 74.2693.
It lies in the Piedmont Plateau, one of three parts of the Appalachian geographic province. It has several major highways running through it, including I-78, the Garden State Parkway, and Route 22. This makes getting around quite easy, and also makes the town a prime spot for car theft, since getaways are also easy. It also causes a great deal of traffic.
It is a suburb with a population of approximately 50,000 people. It is quite dense, with a population density of 5,589 per square mile. This is even more evident during rush hour traffic.
A lot of the houses look alike. I've been inside quite a few of them and they're not that different inside. Maybe a different foyer, maybe stairs closer to the doorway, but they're pretty much all from the same template. The houses were constructed after WWII, during the suburb expansion.
I can't give any hard statistics on ethnic makeup, but there seems to be a predominant Italian presence. My barber is Italian. He gives extremely good haircuts. If you need a haircut and you're near here, go to Luigi's on Burnet Ave. From the events in town throughout the year, there is also a sizable Greek and Filipino population. Other ethnicities include Polish and Black. Famous people that came from this town: Ray Liotta and Robert Wahl, both UHS alumni.
The town has a high school, Union High School, two junior high schools, one middle school, and so many elementary schools I can't give an exact number. From what I understand, it is no longer desirable to go through the public education system. My experience, up to graduating in 1995, was relatively pleasant. There is a higher education institution, Kean University, which sits in the eastern side of town.
The town recycles cardboard, newspaper, and plastic. When this was first instituted in the early 1990's, I had to deliver recyclables to the recycling center. Now, the town picks them up. I watched the pickups a few times, and they are indeed separate from the garbage pickups.
The town has a public library, which is right next to the Town Hall. It has two post offices, and the postal employees are actually very nice. The library, town hall, and one of the post offices is in the town center, named, appropriately enough, Union Center. A book described it as reminiscint of the 1950's, but it seems to be stuck in the 1950's. Efforts since the early 1990's to rejuvenate it have been mildly successful, but pale in comparison to neighboring towns' centers. The center contains a recently-remodeled cinema, a cafe that has poetry readings, a butcher's store, and a (sigh) 99 cent store.
There are a lot of places of worship. A lot of them change religions quite frequently. There is a church down the street that is presently Methodist. It has been three other religions in the past year.
There is a big hole in the ground called Indian Run Parkway Crater. There are two theories for its existence. One is that a meteor crashed in that spot. The other one is that during the American Revolution, it was a place where a large amount of ammunition was stored. When word came that the British were coming, it was detonated to keep it from falling into enemy hands.
While we're on the topic of history, legend has it that George Washington once hid here during the war. There is a war cannon at a major intersection to commemorate the town's involvement in the Revolution. However, it is facing the wrong way. British troops would have come from the opposite way.
There are four strip malls in town. They are not particularly special.
There is a bridge that used to be for a railroad but is no longer in use. After high school graduation, there are usually banners hanging from it. Otherwise, it usually proclaims someone's love for someone else, rendered in grafitti..
There are quite a few diners. I can count 5 off the top of my head, and I know I'm missing a few. The one I visit depends on what I want to eat. Some of them make certain dishes better. If you want a patty melt, Union Square Diner is the place to go.
There are a bunch of convenience stores. There's a CVS and Walgreens that are a five minute walk from each other.
Notable business entities in town include Comcast and Schering-Plough.
For all I've written, there really isn't much to do in town. The bowling alley closed a little while back. There's a bigger cineplex in the next town over. Same goes for pool halls. New York City (or "the City" as townies would call it) isn't hard to get to. This town is probably full of bridge and tunnel youth. When I was younger, I would go dumpster diving. I think that pretty much says it all.
Oh yeah, the town is home to the world's tallest water tower. It is big and blue, and has "UNION" written on it. I have no idea why it's so tall. There isn't a single building in town that rises over 3 stories, and elevation doesn't really vary.
If I didn't live here, I would not have written this.