A mere 12 miles west of New York City, Montclair is not just any suburb. It’s a vibrant city-town bustling with artists, entrepreneurs and musicians, plus more yoga studios per capita than you can shake a stick at. Over the years, many city dwellers have retreated here in seek of lower rent – and a backyard – and continue to keep this culture hub alive and well.
Still not convinced? Here are 10 reasons why Montclair is the Brooklyn of New Jersey.
From Stephen Colbert, to actor Patrick Wilson, make up mogul Bobbi Brown and most recently, Justin Bieber – all call Montclair home. If you happen to be visiting, you might spot them out around town or at one of the many events hosted by Montclarions such as the Montclair Film Festival or the opening of a new restaurant.
Going out to eat in Montclair is more of an experience than simply fulfilling a basic human need. From gourmet farm-to-table bistros, to authentic French plates, even Ethiopian and Indian cuisine, Montclair is jam-packed with good eats that would satisfy any Brooklynite’s palette.
Historically, Montclair began as an artist’s retreat from Manhattan, and over the years it hasn’t faded but evolved into a haven for artists of all mediums and disciplines. The city-town is famous for its eclectic vibe and wide pool of artistic talent that keeps the town’s creative legacy alive and well, with over 1,000 professional artists and counting.
Montclair’s most popular green space, Brookdale Park is a sprawling open area with fields, a dog park, hidden gardens and winding pathways that bear a striking resemblance to another famous park we know. That’s because Brookdale Park was designed by Olmstead Firm, the same architects who created Central Park and Brooklyn’s own Prospect Park.
In a good way, of course! Just like the other urban outpost, Montclair is packed to the brim with more incense-burning tree huggers, yoga studios, organic, gluten-free bakeries and alternative, holistic doctors than maybe even Brooklyn has. However, not to be upstaged, it does have a token Republican, who even acknowledges how out of place they are in liberal Montclair.
Whether it’s an acoustic set at a local pub, an open-mic night at one of Montclair’s many coffee shops or big acts headlining The Wellmont Theater on their way through town, you can always catch a really good show. Not only that, but the Montclair School system prides itself on having top-notch music and performing arts programs, so there’s plenty more talent on the rise.
The world-class Montclair Film Festival has bragging rights for its famous host, Stephen Colbert, and high-profile panelists, attendees and contributors. In a town full of passionate multi-media artists and filmmakers (yup, there are plenty of those, too) the Montclair Film Festival highlights some of its very best. In addition to that, there’s the popular Jazz Festival, Food and Wine Festival, Literary Festival and more.
Montclair neighborhoods are historically diverse and continue with their efforts to remain that way today. Schools have a magnet system that ensures racial diversity and much of the town’s appeal derives from the many different characters, ethnicities and backgrounds in its community. While the area has experienced gentrification in some parts of town, much of Montclair is diverse and proud of it.
Like the many neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Montclair has a unique and eclectic spirit all its own. It’s hip and cultured, sure, but its residents love to push the envelope whenever they can, just like a true Brooklynite would.