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About Essex Fells

Essex Fells is considered one of the county’s most desirable areas, with its highly regarded school system, grand old homes and close-knit community devoid of a commercial district, by a 1928 ordinance. The borough encompasses 1.3 square miles of hilly, tree-lined terrain.

Despite having a thriving business district, Essex Fells has managed to keep taxes relatively low because of the utility it operates. The borough supplies water from the individual wells it owns to North Caldwell, Caldwell and Roseland. It shares public services with neighboring areas, including the emergency dispatch and municipal court, although it maintains its own police force and volunteer fire department.

Essex Fells is the smallest municipality in the county and because it has no commercial district, it may seem secluded to the areas it borders (Caldwell, Roseland, Verona, West Caldwell and West Orange).

It’s a little town in a very dense county, with a strong community. The housing stock of 750 or so homes is a mainly single-family detached residences, including midcentury ranches, Capes, prewar colonials and Tudor estates.

The Pond, off Fells Road, is a popular gathering spot in the winter, when it is filled and frozen. Notable residents have included the singer Connie Francis and Johnny Sylvester, the young boy for whom Babe Ruth promised to hit a home run during the 1926 World Series.

Other Facts

Essex Fells is a borough in Essex County, New Jersey. It was incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature in 1902, from sections of Caldwell Township (now Fairfield Township). The community’s name was derived by taking “Essex” from the name of the county and adding “Fells” from the name of John F. Fell which also means hill or down.

  • New Jersey Family magazine ranked Essex Fells as the best town for families in its 2016 rankings of “New Jersey’s Best Towns for Families”.
  • New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked Essex Fells as its 10th best place to live in its 2008 rankings of the “Best Places to Live” in New Jersey.
  • ranked Essex Fells as the seventh best place to live in its 2019 rankings of the “Best Places to Live” in New Jersey.
  • In 2010, listed Essex Fells as 182nd in its listing of “America’s Most Expensive ZIP Codes”, with a median home price of $1,140,885.

Essex Fells was part of the Horseneck Tract, which consisted of what are now the municipalities of Caldwell, West Caldwell, North Caldwell, Fairfield, Verona, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Roseland, combined with portions of Livingston and West Orange.

Based on an ordinance passed in 1928, commercial activity in the borough is limited to a single three-story building constructed to look like a house and two small workshops on a dead end. As of 2000, Essex Fells had 750 houses, most of which were custom built, with many occupying lots several acres in size. The borough has no apartment buildings, office buildings or traffic lights, and until recently, no condominiums. The only units available for rental are in carriage houses and other ancillary structures.

In 1981, the borough was one of seven Essex County municipalities to pass a referendum to become a township, joining four municipalities that had already made the change, of what would ultimately be more than a dozen Essex County municipalities to reclassify themselves as townships in order take advantage of federal revenue sharing policies that allocated townships a greater share of government aid to municipalities on a per capita basis. In 1992, it again became a borough.

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