Because the town of West Bloomfield wanted a rail link to New York City and the town of Bloomfield did not, the former separated from the latter in 1868, renamed itself Montclair and built the railroad. The result is a prosperous suburban business center, of which little could be purchased with the original price paid the Native Americans for the region—“two guns, three coats and 13 cans of rum.”
For a backdrop Montclair has First Mountain, from which the British were denied entry to the upper Passaic River Valley during the Revolution.
In nearby Upper Montclair a normal school was established in 1908; today Montclair State University is New Jersey's second-largest college. Mountainside Park on Upper Mountain Avenue includes the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens, which usually bloom in May.