Created by an Act of the State Legislature on March 15, 1738 separating it from Hunterdon County, the county derived its name from Colonel Lewis Morris, then Governor of the Province of NJ. The county is known as the "Military Capital of the Revolution", and each of its 39 municipalities played some part in the war effort and contains something of historical importance to this day. Preserving this proud heritage falls to the Morris County Heritage Commission, Historical Society and numerous other groups.
The earliest settlers of European descent arrived about 1715 and established "Bottle Hill" at the crossroads of Ridgedale Avenue and Kings Road. The Luke Miller house the oldest remaining home in the Borough, built around 1730. In 1834, the name of the village was changed to Madison, and in 1889, with a population of 3,250 persons, it seceded from Chatham Township and became a borough in order to develop a local water supply system.
Madison's growth accelerated after the Civil War. The railroad provided good transportation for its farm produce. Later it made possible the establishment of a flourishing rose growing industry, still commemorated in Madison's title as The Rose City. The Morris and Essex Line became one of America's first commuter railroads, attracting well-to-do families and contributing to the development of "Millionaire's Row," which stretched from downtown Madison to Morristown.
The rose industry and the large estates in the area attracted working class people of all kinds. As a result, Madison very early developed a varied population, both in terms of socio-economic status and ethnic background. The original settlers were of British stock; French settlers came after the Revolution; African- Americans have been members of the community from early in the 19th century; Irish came in mid century and then Germans and Italians around the turn of the century. To this day there is a substantial community of Italian descent in Madison.
Madison is the home of Drew University and has the Madison-Florham Park Campus of Fairleigh- Dickinson University, and the College of St. Elizabeth immediately adjacent.; each is a National Historic Site. Madison is the home of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, the Playwright's Theater of New Jersey, and the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts.
Madison's downtown is a thriving central business district. The Madison Civic Commmercial Districte, which includes most of "downtown" as well as Borough Hall and the train station, is on the State Register of Historic Places. At any time there is very little vacant commercial space. In recent years Madison has become noted for the number and quality of its restaurants.
Photo of downtown Madison