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Little Falls, New Jersey A Commuter Paradise and Quaint Historic Enclave Central To Everything

 The township of Little Falls, named for the beautiful Passaic River waterfall that spills downstream from a dam in front of the former  Beattie Carpet Mill, traces its heritage to 1711. The nearly three-square-mile  town is bordered by the communities of Montclair, Wayne, Totowa, Woodland Park,  North Caldwell, Fairfield and Clifton.  

 Unlike many communities in Northern New Jersey, Little Falls has managed to  retain a small town feel. Its convenient location, situated on the Garden State  Parkway; US Routes 80 and 46 as well as New Jersey Routes 3 and 23; along with  numerous public transit options make the township an ideal place of residence  for commuters. The many residents who commute elsewhere to work are among the  best served in the metropolitan area, with frequent rail and bus service  operated by New Jersey Transit. For many residents local shopping, schools and  a variety of other services are within walking distance.  

 The township is divided into three separate areas: Great Notch, which comprises  the easternmost part; Singac which is the western section of town; and the  downtown area which locals call “The Center of Town.” Main Street runs directly through the town center and is lined with lovely “mom & pop” stores and a wide variety of restaurants.  

 The old Morris Canal, once an important artery of trade and transportation  between the Delaware and Hudson Rivers, wound its way through the town, and  vestiges of it still serve as a reminder of Little Falls’ long history.  

 During most of the years of its existence, the Beattie Carpet Mill was the  town's major employer. The mill was closed more than thirty years ago, and the  former factory's buildings have since been converted into a large condominium  complex called The Mill at Little Falls. Many of the units overlook Little  Falls on the Passaic River.  

 The quarrying of brownstone was another important local industry, and Little  Falls’ brownstone has been utilized in many significant structures including New York  City's famous Trinity Church. Commercial activity is now comprised mainly of light  industrial and office-based companies; there is some heavy industry.  

 Along with its rich industrial history, Little Falls has a rich and diverse  cultural history. The township was the birthplace and childhood home of  legendary comedian Jackie Gleason. Gleason began his comedic career during the  1930s in Little Falls telling jokes at the famous Colonial Hotel and Nightclub  in the Singac section. Other notable Little Falls natives and residents include  illusionist David Blaine, CBS The Early Show's anchorman Chris Wragge as well  as authors Lois Utz and Frank DeCaro.  

 The township is also the home of Yogi Berra Stadium, home of the  Canadian-American Baseball League team called the New Jersey Jackals. The  stadium, as well as the Yogi Berra museum, are located on the campus of  Montclair State University. In fact, the majority of Montclair State  University's campus is located in Little Falls.  

 Montclair State University is a highly regarded liberal arts college which is  overseen by the state of New Jersey. In the 1970's, one of the university's  more well-known alumni, Bruce Willis, bartended in Little Falls.  

 Though it is a small town—and it certainly retains the feel of a small town—Little Falls has been an important campaign stop for presidential hopefuls.  Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton brought their campaigns to  the Passaic River township.  

 The population of Little Falls is 10,524 people, according to the 2010 U.S.  Census, and the median household income is $69,342. The population has gone  down during the past ten years, dropping nearly 5% since 2000. The average  Little Falls resident is 42.7 years old, and unemployment rates are below  average for the state of New Jersey and nationally.  

 Little Falls boasts a highly-respected public school system with three public  schools, and the regional high school, Passaic Valley Regional High School, is  located there as well. Little Falls also is home to several private and  parochial schools. The township also hosts numerous service, fraternal and  community organizations including the Masons, the Knights of Columbus and  Kiwanis.  

 The township offers several beautiful parks for residential activities including  jogging, tennis, softball, soccer and football. There are also many playgrounds  for children, and if the kids get bored climbing atop a traditional jungle gym,  the kids can climb upon a retired army tank, which sits proudly in Memorial  Park.  

 Dining options abound in Little Falls and many of the township restaurants are  famous throughout New Jersey and the tri-state area. Sun Ray Pizza located on  Main Street is famous for its Sicilian pizza. Rare, a steakhouse also located  on Main Street and voted Best New Jersey Restaurant in 2008, serves fine aged  steaks as well as offering guests a full raw bar. Maggie's Town Tavern, located  on Van Ness Avenue, has been serving locals their signature burgers for  decades.  

 Like everywhere else, Little Falls real estate has not gone unscathed through  the recent economic crisis, however, because of the town’s location, the number of amenities the community offers, the quality school  system, and a relatively low (by New Jersey standards) property tax rate, the  Little Falls real estate market is robust. Condos and townhomes in Little Falls  range in prices from the low $100,000’s for a one-bedroom, one bath condo to more than $600,000 for a three-bedroom,  two bath luxury condo.  

 The Mill at Little Falls, mentioned earlier, is situated on over twelve acres.  The jogging path along the river adjoins a private pedestrian bridge leading to  a four-acre natural woodland preserve. The Mill's pedestrian plaza has dramatic  views overlooking the river, waterfalls and river gorge. In addition to the  park-like setting and jogging path, The Mill at Little Falls also offers  extensive facilities including a swimming pool, tennis courts, fitness center,  parking and security. Units start in the mid-$200,000s and increase to upwards  of the mid-$300,000 range. These pricier units often feature balconies, which  overlook the waterfalls and natural woodland preserve.  

 Many of the condominium units for sale in Little Falls are garden apartments.  These converted units are popular less expensive options for young, first-time  buyers, or provide a financially sound investment for a retired couple looking  to downsize from a larger one-family home.  

 Most people speed right by Little Falls as they travel New Jersey's busy  highways never realizing what a delightful little gem they've just passed. The  township offers something for everyone. Residents of Little Falls have know  this for years, and they couldn't be happier.  

 Liam P. Cusack is associate editor of The New Jersey Cooperator.  

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4 Comments

  • i grew up in little falls it was a great place to live, lots of stuff to do could walk to willowbrook mall, my mother worked at what is now "the mill" in the 60s
  • The town was named after WaterFalls that no longer exists. The falls behind the mill were man made. The article does not mention that there is an area that floods.
  • Jackie Gleason was not born and raised in Little Falls, but in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn NY.
  • Don't try and visit the Falls, it is now not accessible to the public; with a guard and a "no trespassing" sign. The owners of the Mill don't want anyone there. This is a public place for Little Falls people to visit their name sake. As a 45 year resident of Little Falls, I have always brought out of town guests to see the Falls. I no longer can....Is this legal? When the Falls condos were built...they had to leave access to the public to view the falls. This is not being done. What can we do?