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How Oradell Transformed from Farms into Homes

Oradell has changed much since the Civil War.

 Oradell has a long history and local historians ready to tell it. Sam Tripsas and Frank Vierling described Oradell's development in an interview. Oradell went through many changes over the past century and a half. Transportation infrastructure spurred growth, starting with the railroad construction in the 1860s. The last Oradell farm closed in the 1970s. Today, there are hardly any undeveloped lots in Oradell.

Oradell was a strictly rural community from the Colonial Era until around the time of the Civil War. Farmers would take their produce into the city by horse drawn carriage. The horses knew the route, allowing the farmers to nap on the return trip in the evening. Once the railroads came to town, it became feasible for daily commuters to live in Oradell and work in the city. Locals gave up farming one by one for the higher paying city jobs. They built housed along Grove Street and Maple Avenue near the Oradell Railroad Station. Horse farms still covered much of the town. This phase of development lasted until the early 20th Century.

The next phase of Oradell's development brought houses farther from the railroads. There was noticeable population growth during the 1920s and 1930s. The Manor Section of Oradell in the southeast part of Oradell was built during this time period. Mr. Vierling recalls how the old schoolhouse, which is the current Town Hall, was overflowing with students. Oradell had to hold some classes in nearby buildings for lack of space. The original plans for the new schoolhouse kept getting voted down by budget hawks in the community. Planners had to shrink the size of the school to satisfy them. When the revised school was finally built, it was too small for the population. Work on an addition began soon after the school opened.

After World War II, Oradell experienced a post-war construction boom. The RiverDell school building was built, and houses replaced the remaining farms. The last farm to be sold was a pony farm between Memorial Park and the Swim Club. Mr. Tripsas and Mr. Vierling both remember that farm. It was sold in 1976. The completion of the housing development on that property started the current phase of Oradell's development. Now, growth is slow and limited to filling in a few remaining small lots. The suburbanization of Oradell is complete. We shall see how Oradell develops in future decades.

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