Previously home to Lenape Indian settlements, a refuge for French Huguenot settlers escaping religious persecution, and the site of a Continental Army encampment during the Revolutionary War, the Borough of Oradell was officially incorporated in 1894 as Delford, New Jersey.
Around the time Delford was established, the area was evolving from a farming hamlet into a commuting community. The introduction of railroad service during the 1870s made New York City more accessible to residents.
Newly constructed homes on Grove Street and Maple Avenue provided housing, along with easy access to the railroad. Children attended school in a one-and-a-half-story frame building, located in the area behind the current Borough Hall. That building contained just two classrooms. In 1902, due to overcrowding, a new eight-room brick building opened to provide education for grades one through eight. Today, this building functions as Oradell's Borough Hall.
Police protection and law enforcement were handled by town marshals. The fire department, founded in 1897, was composed of volunteers who used a hand-drawn hose cart with 700 feet of fire hose. Oradell Free Public Library opened its doors in 1913, housed in a rear room of the original Post Office building located on Oradell Avenue.
Hiram Blauvelt's 50th Anniversary History of Oradell credits the Borough's present name to Daniel Demarest, Oradell's second mayor. The name "Oradell" was inspired by the area's geography, Blauvelt explained: "ora" meaning "at the border of" in Latin and "dell" referring to a "small valley."
Throughout its history, Oradell has been home to numerous authors, including Irving Crump, former editor of the famous Boys Life scouting magazine and author of over 100 books. Charles Livingston Bull, noted illustrator of wildlife books and magazines, had a home on Seminole Street.
The list of other famous Oradell residents has included Ellsworth Kelly, the world-famous minimalist artist; Tony award-winning Playwright and Author Joe DiPietro; Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Parcells; Wally Schirra, the only astronaut to fly in three U.S. space missions (Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo); DC Comics artist George Papp; and Hugh J. Grant, mayor of New York City from 1889 to 1892.
Though much has changed during Oradell's more than 120 years, the Borough's core values as a traditional American "family town" remain the same. Click here to view a "Historic Photo Gallery" that shows the Oradell of yesteryear.