All About Union County: One of New Jersey’s Most Diverse Communities

Everything You Need to Know About Union County, NJ 

Developed as part of New York’s metropolitan area, Union County is one of the most prominent counties in New Jersey. The county is famous for its diversity, and is often considered the most diverse county in the state. This level of diversity, along with a thriving economy, make this one of the most inviting regions in the United States. 

If you’d like to learn more about Union County and its history, we invite you to continue reading. 

History of Union County

Open Lake & Fence in Cranford, NJ in Union County
Source: Wikimedia Commons 

For much of the 15th and 16th centuries, this region was inhabited by the Lenni Lenapi Indian tribe. Following the Elizabethtown Purchase in 1664, the English took ownership of the land from the natives. This led to the creation of New Jersey’s first proper settlement. Initially, Union County was part of Essex County, one of the original 4 counties to be established here

As new cities and towns were developed in the region, including Plainfield, there was a desire to make the region stand on its own. Following this, Union County was officially founded on March 19th, 1857, separating the region from Essex. It has the distinction of being the last of New Jersey’s original counties to be established. 

About Union County Today 

Shopping District in Westfield, Union County, NJ
Source: Wikimedia Commons 

According to the 2019 United States Census, Union County currently has a population of around 556,341. In addition, the average household makes around $77,095 each year here. 

Elizabeth serves as the county seat, and is the fourth most populated city in New Jersey overall. Merck & Co., a pharmaceutical company, currently sits as the largest employer in the county. 

Union County is most famous for hosting one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the state. The population consists of 39% white citizens, 20% African American citizens, 32% Hispanic citizens and 5% Asian citizens. This level of diversity makes Union County an inviting destination, and people of several backgrounds are enticed to move here each year. 

About Transportation & Commuting 

Pennsylvania Station, Connected Through NJ Transit
Source: Wikimedia Commons 

NJ Transit serves as the primary transportation service for residents of Union County. Buses and trains are available around the clock, allowing for easy travel around New Jersey. 

Union County is an excellent place for regular commuters, thanks to its proximity to New York. A train ride will get you to New York in less than an hour, giving you access to the Penn Station. From there, you’ll have easy access to major locations across the country, including Philadelphia and Boston. 

In regards to air travel, Newark International Airport is the primary option for Union County residents. 

About the County’s Schools 

Union County is also notable for its robust educational system. Spread across 23 districts, the schools in Union County are considered some of New Jersey’s best educational facilities. Union County Magnet High School, located in Scotch Plains, is often considered one of the best high schools in the state, along with Westfield Senior High.

In regards to higher education, Kean University is one of the largest and most prominent universities in the region. With over 50 under-graduate programs, including art, biology, mathematics and more, there’s a program for just about every type of student here. 

For those looking to attend community college, the Union County College offers a wide range of academic programs. 

Union’s Extensive Park System 

Boathouse at Warinanco Park in Union County
Source:  Wikimedia Commons

The Union County Department of Parks and Recreation oversees all the parks in the local area. There are over 30 parks in the county, and they are all important to the county’s culture. 

The Watchung Reservation, Nomahegan Park, Warinanco Park, Echo Lake Park and Ashbrook Reservation are some of the county’s most popular parks. You’ll find hiking trails, baseball fields, soccer fields and several other recreational areas at these parks. The Warinanco Park also has its own skating rink, which operates seasonally. 

Picnic areas are also available across the parks. These parks host breathtaking sights and views, making them perfect for residents who want to unwind. 

Shops, Restaurants & Other Union County Highlights 

Outside View of The Mills Mall in Union County
Source: Yelp 

Union County is also an extensive shopping hub, offering a wide range of stores and malls for residents. The Mills at Jersey Gardens is a popular shopping destination, as it stands as one of the largest malls in New Jersey. There’s also the Union Plaza Shopping Center, which offers a wide selection of retailers.

Union County also offers a selection of popular restaurants. Some notable examples include:  

Besides the parks, there are several other attractions in the local area. For the music lovers, the Union County Performing Arts Center hosts plays and musical performances throughout the year. For those who enjoy golf, the Galloping Hill Golf Course can be found in Kenilworth. Lastly, the Trailside Nature and Science Center, found at the Watchung Reservation, offers several hillside trails. 

Want to move to Union County in the near future? Take a peek at the different apartment properties we operate there, and try a virtual tour.