Madison’s nickname, “The Rose City,” remains today as it celebrates the cultural roots and ethnic diversity that still define many of the Madison neighborhoods.
Older neighborhoods, rich in texture and character, boast an eclectic architectural collection of homes. A wide variety in housing sizes and styles are available, including picturesque pre-Revolutionary War cottages, Industrial period homes, Gilded Age mansions, turn-of-the-century Arts & Crafts bungalows, post World War II garden apartments and neo-Colonial construction.
Madison’s centrally situated historic downtown business district and train station emphasize an ambiance that tells the first-time visitor that this is a livable, friendly and walkable community. Most downtown structures support ground floor retail space with residential living and office space above. Residents find they can walk to their neighbors, stores, church, school, cultural venues, parks and public transportation.
There is a tree-lined, well-manicured Madison neighborhood to suit any taste. While the Hill section, south of downtown, contains some of Madison’s most expensive building stock, the Orchard section to the southwest is a close-knit enclave of Madison families that have expanded their homes with each new generation. The North Street area boasts of large tracts of land and gardens, and mixed streetscapes of multi-family and single-family homes where ethnic pride and traditions are evident.
To the west, the Fairwoods section (bordered by Drew University and Fairleigh Dickinson University) was developed in the Arts & Crafts style. The section began in the early 1900s as the town’s first planned development, with its companion Ardsleigh subdivision of ranch-style homes following in the 1950s.
The Bottle Hill Historic District (west of the downtown and running the length of Ridgedale Avenue) is Madison’s oldest street and contains a virtual catalogue of American architecture from the 1730s to the 1980s. The bulk of the housing to the west of this area was developed post-1950.
As more young families relocate in Madison to raise their children, local residents witness many architecturally designed and Borough-approved remodeled and rebuilt homes. At the same time, condominium and apartment units are providing housing for “empty nesters” and seniors who choose to relocate either closer to the Borough center and train station or in tree-covered residential planned developments.