Mom-and-pop shops line the main street on both sides of the train tracks
If you’re not a NJ native, Cranford may just be the best kept secret in Union County. Located about 14 miles southwest of Manhattan, Cranford somehow accomplishes old-world, suburban appeal within a reasonable train-commuting distance to the city. Twenty-four thousand people call Cranford home and enjoy its many parks, recreational facilities and overall lifestyle along the Rahway River. The town is split into the North and South sides by none other than North and South Avenue.
Founded in the late 1800s, Cranford is just under five square miles of nice neighborhoods dotted with historic homes. In the 1980’s, the town doubled-down on its charm, installing Victorian-styled lights, benches and brick sidewalks. A Victorian clock was installed in the center of town creating a small “pocket park” that’s a popular hangout for social teens. Mom-and-pop shops line the main street on both sides of the train tracks, and the river flows in the background like a steadfast friend. An online vote conducted by The Star-Ledger, named Cranford the best downtown in NJ for both 2018 and 2019.
Cranford has seven highly-rated schools which serve approximately 3,900 students and have an average student:teacher ratio of 12:1. With 168 clubs and activities for kids in grades K-8, 90 clubs and activities in the high school, and 28 varsity athletic programs, Cranford encourages kids to be active and participatory.
Downtown Cranford has seen investment and growth in the last few years, and smaller neighborhood shopping areas (like Centennial Village) have received new attention. Easy access from the Garden State Parkway has helped entice corporate entities to make use of the Cranford Business Park. And city commuters enjoy easy access to the NJ Transit Raritan Valley train line which gets them to NYC in about 45 minutes. Drivers can easily hop on routes 22, 1 or 9.
The Cranford Canoe Club was one of the first canoe clubs in the US, and is now the last one left on the Rahway River.