Cultural and Historic Affairs

Archives of the Essex County Park System

In March of 2000, the collection of historic documents of the Essex County Park System was named an official project of the “Save America’s Treasures” program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs established the Archives of the Essex County Park System to preserve the records, which for decades had been in disarray and in danger of loss. With the help of a grant from the New Jersey State Library, the county embarked on the process of inventorying, preserving and cataloging the many reports, minutes, correspondence, agreements, plant lists, newsletters, plans, blueprints, and photos dating back to the origin of the park system in 1895.

Much has been accomplished, and today a vast resource of historical data, previously inaccessible, is available to researchers.  This collection traces the history of the nation’s oldest county park system, revealing the rich Olmsted Brothers legacy.  It shows the process involved in the creation and design of the parks, and documents the evolution of the Essex County Park System through generations of change. 

The Parks Archivist and assistants are available to assist with inquiries related to the parks, past and present.  They also curate exhibits, compile brochures, lead tours, and craft presentations to share the great legacy of the nation’s first county park system.  The Parks Archives is located in the Parks Administration Building at 115 Clifton Avenue in Newark, New Jersey.  Research services are available by appointment, Monday through Friday, 9:30 am to 4:00 pm.  Research Policies and Procedures have been established based upon the Open Public Records Act.  For more information or to arrange an appointment please call 973-268-3500 ext. 6230 or 6231.

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Brochures of the Essex County Parks Archives

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Updated June 2021