The historical Anderson Park.
Spring weather is finally here, and with the warm weather there are more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. You don’t have to go far in Montclair, as there are over 20 parks to visit. One great destination is Anderson Park. At about 14.5 acres and open year-round, Anderson Park may be the smallest of the five Essex County Parks in Montclair, but it is a favorite haven for young and old alike.
Even before entering the park through one of its multiple entryways, you can see most of the place at a glance. A big open area makes up the majority of the park, where visitors can lounge and sit down for a picnic, and there is also a multi-purpose field for sports activities, with two goal posts set up for either lacrosse, soccer or field hockey.
A footpath surrounds the park, and trees of all types are spread around, providing shade when it gets too hot. On any given day, you can see families, friends, couples and individuals spending their time here. People walk their dogs, power-walk with a friend, take a stroll during their lunch break, run, play Frisbee or just sit on one of the many benches, perhaps after having had lunch at a nearby restaurant in the Upper Montclair shopping district. Fountains custom-made for both people and pets lie along the footpath and bathrooms are available at the south east end. Parking is available along the North Mountain Avenue border.
What makes the park even more appealing is its history. There are plaques on rocks along the footpath that tell a little bit about the park. Going through the north end entrance at Bellevue Avenue, there is a rock with a plaque that honors Charles W. Anderson, the person who, in June of 1903, donated the lands that make the park, and whom the park is named after. Walking counterclockwise along the path, another plaque is seen, which tells that the park was opened in 1905, designed by John Charles Olmsted and was placed on the national register of historical places. Park history aficionados will recognize Olmsted’s name, as he was a relative of Frederick Law Olmsted, one of the landscape architects who co-designed the famous Central Park in Manhattan.
Being a public place for the people and by the people, there is plenty of community involvement at the park. Friends of Anderson Park is a non-profit conservancy leading the park’s stewardship. They plant trees regularly, which are often commemorative. The conservancy also hosts historical tours and events that happen throughout the year.
Upcoming events by Friends of Anderson Park include planting trees at the park (May 1), a historical tour of Upper Montclair (May 2), a tour of the park itself (May 16) and Victorian Day (May 17) which celebrates the park’s 110th anniversary. More information about the park, its history, the conservancy’s efforts and how you can help, can be found at the conservancy’s website, www.friendsofandersonpark.com. General information about Anderson Park can be found at www.essexcountyparks.org.