Chronology of the Park System


1921 – 1987

1921 Union County Park Commission established

1922 Park Commission established office on North Broad Street in Elizabeth; hired Olmstead Brothers, celebrated landscape architects; hired first Park Commission staff member; Wheatena Company of Rahway donated four acres of land along the Rahway River

1923 Development began on Warinanco and Echo Lake Parks

1920-25 170 acres donated county-wide for parkland

1925 Park Commission Administration Building in Warinanco Park completed; parks being developed: Warinanco, Cedar Brook, Watchung Reservation, Echo Lake, Rahway River Park, Wheeler and Elizabeth River

1925-30 Parks developed: Elizabeth River Parkway in Elizabeth, Hillside and Union; Briant and Unami Parks

1926 Completion of the Watchung Stable and bridle paths in Watchung Reservation (addition added to stable at a later date); Green Brook Park donated by Plainfield; County Park Police formed

1927 Shakespeare Garden planted in Cedar Brook Park; Commission appointed first full-time Recreation Director in any county park system in the United States; Boy Scout camp site formalized in the Watchung Reservation

1928 Galloping Hill Golf Course opened

1929 Rahway River Park Pool opened

1930 Rifle and Pistol ranges opened at Lenape Park

1931 John Russell Wheeler Park Pool opened; additional nine holes opened at Galloping Hill Golf Course; Milton Lake donated by Rahway

1934 Madison Avenue Park donated by Rahway

1936 Trap and Skeet Range added to Lenape Park

1940 Kawameeh Park opened

1941 Trailside Museum opened in the Watchung Reservation in a corner of a nursery building

1945 Fire destroyed Wheeler Pool bathhouse; azalea garden planted in Warinanco Park

1946 New bathhouse constructed at Wheeler Pool (this too burned down at a later date)

1950-54 195 acres of former swampland purchased to create Ash Brook Golf Course (first step in buying 650 acres for the Ash Brook Wildlife Sanctuary)

1951 Addition added to Trailside Museum

1954 Ash Brook Golf Course opened

1956 Pitch and Putt Range, golf cart garage and addition to clubhouse added to Galloping Hill Golf Course

1957 Fire destroyed Watchung Stable (Stable operated out of tents for a year)

1958 New Watchung Stable built

1959 Heat added to Trailside Museum for year-round use; Ursino Section added to Elizabeth River Park

1960’s 400 acres purchased along the Passaic River; Warinanco Park boathouse burned down, temporary building constructed

1960 Rhododendron Garden planted in Watchung Reservation

1961 Shakespeare Festival and Music Under the Stars (Summer Arts Festival) presented

1962 Open air Warinanco Ice Rink opened; lights installed at Galloping Hill Pitch and Putt Range

1964 Pitch and Putt Course opened at Ash Brook Golf Course

1965 Lenape Park connection of Echo Lake and Nomahegan Parks completed; warming room and snack bar building added to Warinanco Skating Center

1966 Summit donated 54 acres to Passaic River Park

1969 Ciba Corporation donated four acres to Passaic River Park; roof added to Warinanco Ice Rink; electric golf carts added at Galloping Hill and Ash Brook Golf Courses; Planetarium opened at the newly renamed Trailside Nature and Science Center

1974 Visitor Center opened at Trailside Nature and Science Center; Oak Ridge Golf Course purchased

1978 Park Commission abolished through public referendum; Union County Department of Parks and Recreation established

1980 Wheeler Pool rehabilitated

1982 Rahway Pool reconstructed with new bathhouse; Mattano Park rehabilitated; County exchanges seventy acres of the Watchung Reservation needed by the State for I-78, for land in the Houdaille Quarry

1983 Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs added to Department of Parks and Recreation

1984 Cedar Brook and Warinanco Parks rehabilitated; Rifle and Pistol Range opened at Houdaille Quarry

1985 Watchung Stable moved to new facility at former NIKE missile site in Watchung Reservation

1986 New boathouse at Warinanco Park and service building in Wheeler Park constructed

1987 Division of Park Maintenance transferred to Department of Parks and Recreation