Cranford is a township in Union County, New Jersey, United States. Cranford was incorporated as a township by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 14, 1871, from portions of the Townships of Clark, Linden, Springfield, Union and Westfield. Portions of the township were taken to form Garwood (March 19, 1903) and Kenilworth (March 13, 1907). The Cranford Historical Preservation Advisory Board was established in 1993 to record and help preserve historic buildings in the town. The Cranford Historical Society, founded in 1927, maintains the Crane-Phillips House (c. 1845), located at 124 North Union Avenue, as a museum. A modernist branch office for IBM was constructed in Cranford according to designs by architect Victor Lundy.
Cranford has long been considered a center of commerce. The Cranford Business Park on the south side of town consists of a complex of office buildings housing a variety of major corporations and small businesses. Along North Avenue are a variety of buildings housing doctors and other businesses. Law offices predominate in small buildings around town. Banks are also extremely common throughout the township, which hosts at least half a dozen. Downtown Cranford is the main retail business district for the township. Consisting of a variety of small family owned businesses on both sides of the railroad tracks, there has been a debate in the community over the direction of the downtown. With neighboring communities seeing downtown development and a focus on either recruiting chain store or upscale small stores, Cranford has been debating the issue. On the south side of town, the Centennial Avenue Business District is a small shopping district with a mix of neighborhood stores. There is a push to redevelop this business district.
Cranford houses several religious and private schools. Saint Michael’s School, located in downtown Cranford, is a Roman Catholic parochial school which serves students in Nursery through Grade 8 and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Elementary Schools, operating under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark. The main campus of Union County College, New Jersey’s oldest community college dating back to 1933, is located in Cranford. The Cranford campus, one of four county locations, was established in 1956.
New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked Cranford as its 34th best place to live in its 2010 rankings of the “Best Places To Live”.
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