Sunday, March 10, 2013
Drive West out of Garwood to Explore Oft-Maligned Plainfield
While many in the City of nearly 50,000 people are economically disadvantaged the east side has a number of niche neighborhoods that offer attractive, historically significant homes.
New Jersey's 35th most populous municipality seems to best show off its fine attributes far from the City's once bustling and now down-right frightening commercial core. It's along the Scotch Plains and South Plainfiled border that the City shines brightest in Netherwood Heights and Sleepy Hollow. While there are a number of even smaller vest-pocket neighborhoods like Evergreen, Van Wyck Brooks and Putnam-Watchung, Netherwood Heights and Sleepy Hollow offer the largest and most well identified enclaves.
A sure sign of an energetic urban enclave is a resident/citizen organized civic association aimed at improving the local community. The Netherwood Heights Neighbors Association does the trick. Its attractive website seems well organized, well maintained and a lynch pin of the area. Not only does the site have great links and a user-friendly interface it actually has locally produced content that helps brand and identify Netherwood Heights as unique place in the state. The fact that Netherwood is also a stop on NJ Transit is a big plus for Netherwood Heights.
The east side of Plainfield is certainly diverse. Netherwood Heights and Sleepy Hollow pretty much fit neatly into Census tract 391-- home to some 3,000 people. 34% of the tract is White- surprisingly down 16% from 2000 (if you believe the hype about the draw of the neighborhood to creative types, gay and lesbian families, and other seeking unique housing markets near rail transportation). Blacks make up 49% of the population with growing communities of Asians and Hispanics (3% and 11% respectively).
Those self-reporting themselves as multiracial increased 56% in the tract-- totaling 3% of the population, according to the Census. The niche community seems to be bound by Woodland Avenue, E 7th Street, Leland Avenue and the Scotch Plains border line. The topography of the area seems far hillier than the rest of Plainfield.
The Netherwood Heights neighborhood also lights up the streets during Christmas time-- a new tradition that appears to be much loved by locals and visitors. An event that is documented by one of the city's more active, and influential, blogs.