Westfield was once a popular trail for the Lenni-Lenape Indians who blazed trails through this territory until 1664 when the English Long Islanders purchased the Elizabethtown tract from the Lenni Lenape chieftains. The first European immigrants arrived in the area in the 1699. They were farmers looking for open land. Originally known as the West Fields of Elizabethtown, the community gradually took its own identity and, finally, in 1903 was incorporated as the Town of Westfield. The rail line into New York City ran through the center of town, replacing the Swift-Sure Stagecoach line. In 1892 the present railroad station opened. Westfield is a developed community of 6.29 square miles with 211 acres devoted to parks. Reminders of the Colonial era include a dozen picturesque churches and the Revolutionary-era cemetery.
Westfield is distinguished by its single family homes, broad tree-lined streets, downtown shopping area and cultural and community recreational programs. In the center of Union County, downtown Westfield is a popular shopping and entertainment center. Shoppers and visitors often make a day of it, then dine at one of the many delightful restaurants. Several have been favorably reviewed by the New York Times and the Newark Star Ledger. Along with a movie theater, the restaurants make downtown Westfield a magnet for evening activity. The downtown area is lively, sage, and friendly every night of the week. Picturesque shops and major stores such as The Gap and Lord Taylor are right downtown!
This is a town that is all about it’s children with excellent sports and recreation programs as a complement to the renowned school system. The landscape includes many lush parks golf courses for adults as well as children to enjoy. The Westfield Memorial Pool complex boasts 4 pools, tennis courts, and basketball hoops. The YMCA is a mecca for the physically fit with 2 indoor pools, a racketball court, exercise facilities, and a before after school program. Little league Baseball is being played everywhere. The 12.6 acre Mindowaskin Park offers concerts in the summer, ice skating in the winter a children’s playground.
Education has always been an important aspect to Westfield. The Westfield School District is built on successful cooperation among family, school and community. Its mission is to prepare students to achieve excellence and to become responsible citizens through rigorous educational programs which respect individual differences and diversity. According to a 2003 community survey, 96% of residents rated the Westfield Public Schools favorably and families continue to move here because of the school district. Public support of the schools is evident each year as Westfield voters regularly approve school budgets. Recognizing the mission to instill a quest for knowledge and to prepare young people for positions of responsible leadership and citizenship, the Westfield schools seek to maximize the unique skills, learning styles, and cultural backgrounds of all members of the community. Click here to read more about Westfield Schools.
Culturally there is much to enjoy in Westfield. The town has its own symphony orchestra, theatrical and dance groups and more than 50 clubs and organizations. Each Memorial Day weekend, approximately 3,000 families visit to participate in the Westfield Memorial Soccer Cup. Merchants and restaurateurs work cooperatively to bring visitors from the soccer fields to downtown. On warm summer nights, Westfielders enjoy open-air concerts in Mindowaskin Park. The annual Festifall Street Fair attracts 30,000 visitors. After Thanksgiving, Westfield kicks off a month-long holiday celebration, Welcome Home to Westfield, with the lighting of the Town tree.
In celebration of the arts, Westfield hosts bi-annual Art in Westfield sidewalk shows and sales in conjunction with the Westfield Art Association. Other events such as street fairs, sporting events and concerts are held throughout the year. The Rialto Theater, with its restored faade and Art Deco marquee, is a great place to see the latest movies. Westfield is also known as the home of the popular TV series, Ed. Filming is often taking place in the downtown or in Mindowaskin Park and the show opening credits feature Westfield tree-lined, historic streets.
For over two decades the Westfield Symphony Orchestra, made up of talented residents, has provided audiences with the highest professional level of artistry and excitement – all presented in the intimacy of The Presbyterian Church in Westfield and the beauty of the Union County Arts Center in Rahway. Recognized by the NJ State Council on the Arts as a “Distinguished Arts Organization”, the Westfield Symphony Orchestra is viewed as one of the cultural jewels of the metropolitan area.
The Westfield Community Players is a group of actors and actresses who have been providing plays since 1934.
The Westfield Historical Society houses a museum and archives that are located on the second floor of the Town Hall. Such artifacts include books, letters, photographs, maps, newspapers, flags, and historic uniforms. There are historic tours and visits to the museum which the society provides. The museum is open to the public on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10am to 12pm.
This idyllic town, where Mary Pickford movies were once filmed, is also home to summer concerts in the park, winter ice-skating, a classic New England village green, and a children’s fife-and-drum corp.
Hospitals/Medical Centers near Westfield
CHILDRENS SPECIALIZED HOSP (about 3 miles; MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ)
OVERLOOK HOSPITAL (about 4 miles; SUMMIT, NJ)
TRINITAS HOSPITAL (about 4 miles; ELIZABETH, NJ)
MUHLENBERG REGIONAL MED CTR (about 4 miles; PLAINFIELD, NJ)
Colleges nearest to Westfield
UNION COUNTY COLLEGE (about 3 miles; CRANFORD, NJ; Full-time enrollment: 5,856)
KEAN UNIVERSITY (about 6 miles; UNION, NJ; FT enrollment: 8,627)
SETON HALL UNIVERSITY (about 9 miles; SOUTH ORANGE, NJ; FT enrollment: 7,509)
DREW UNIVERSITY (about 10 miles; MADISON, NJ; FT enrollment: 2,133)
RUTGERS UNIVERSITY-NEWARK (about 14 miles; NEWARK, NJ; FT enrollment: 6,878)
NEW JERSEY INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (about 14 miles; NEWARK, NJ; FT enrollment: 6,565)
ESSEX COUNTY COLLEGE (about 14 miles; NEWARK, NJ; FT enrollment: 5,893)