Incorporated as a city in 1899, Summit is located about 20 miles west of New York City. This six-square-mile Union County town has a population of approximately 21,000, many of whom commute to Manhattan on a daily basis. Its reputation as an affluent community is backed up by the 2000 Census which identified Summit as having the 16th highest income among New Jersey’s 566 municipalities. Summit is surrounded by other upscale locales including Millburn, Chatham, New Providence and Berkeley Heights.
The heart of Summit’s downtown is Springfield Avenue, where sidewalk cafes, boutiques, and restaurants are joined by spas, art galleries and magnificent turn-of-the-century homes. Summit sponsors special events all year ‘round, from 5K runs for charities to specially-themed weekends like Murder Mystery or Girls’ Night Out.
Tree-lined streets, parks, playgrounds, the Reeves-Reed Arboretum and The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey are just a few of the many features that make Summit an exceptional place to live. The Reeves-Reed Arboretum is part of a historic estate offering nature programs for all ages. A philosophy of “bringing art and people together” is evident at The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey on Elm Street, where exhibits, art classes for children, teens and adults and outdoor sculpture serve to enhance the artistic community. Centrally located at Maple Street and Morris Avenue, the Summit Public Library offers CDs, DVDs and books along with on-site Internet access. The landmark Summit Diner at Union Place and Summit Avenue is an outstanding example of a classic New Jersey diner. Dating from 1938, the paneled dining area has eight window-side booths and 20 counter stools. Visitors and residents alike appreciate downtown Summit’s free parking.
Highly-rated public schools draw many families to Summit. The school system is composed of seven elementary schools including the Wilson Primary School and Jefferson Primary School exclusively for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes. The Brayton School,Franklin School, Jefferson School, Lincoln-Hubbard School and Washington School serve students in grades one to five. Grades six through eight attend the Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School before moving on to the Summit High School. In 2005, the high school attained the ranking of 149 in a comprehensive list of the best high schools in the country. Private schools in Summit include the Kent Place School, Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child and Oratory Preparatory School.
An express train trip from Summit to Penn Station in midtown Manhattan takes 35-minutes, making for a quick commute to Manhattan. New Jersey Transit’s Gladstone Branch and Morristown Line both serve Summit. Some riders opt for a train to Hoboken, for PATH train service leading to downtown or midtown New York. Local roadways include Routes 24, 124 and 512, as well as Interstate 78. Newark Liberty International Airport is about a 15 minute ride from Summit along Interstate 78.
While Summit has a reputation for expensive real estate, there is housing available for every budget. Reasonably-priced condominiums, co-op buildings and townhomes are attractive options for first-time buyers, while modest single-family homes are also available. In the middle of the market are larger Colonials with charming front porches, restored bungalows, penthouse condominiums, and a mix of mid-century homes in Cape Cod, ranch and split-level styles. At the top of the market buyers will find stately brick mansions, vintage Victorians and newly constructed luxury homes priced in the millions or multi-millions. Many of these upper-end homes are located in Summit’s leafy Northside neighborhood.
Proud of its history, Summit’s oldest structure is the circa 1741 Carter House at 90 Butler Parkway, which houses the Summit Historical Society. The Oratory Preparatory School on Morris Avenue was one of the town’s original mansions from the late 1800s. Twin Maples is another historic building and now serves as headquarters for the Summit Fortnightly Club and Summit Junior Fortnightly Club, active local fundraising organizations. Built in 1908, Twin Maples is listed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places. The Summit Opera House on Springfield Avenue was a “dry” entertainment hall built by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in the 1890s. The Grand Summit Hotel, built in 1929, and the elegant DeBary Inn, built in 1880, are two of Summit’s most popular choices for lodging.