Monte Irvin Orange Park serves the City of Orange with athletic fields, walking paths, and a playground. The park hosts a variety of free concerts annually each summer and is one of the original Olmsted designed landscapes in the Essex County Park System.
Orange Park, considered to be part of the original county park system designed by the Olmsted Brothers, is a beautiful 47.63-acre park situated between Central Avenue and Center and Harrison Streets in the City of Orange. It's the park system's sixth largest park.
Property for Orange Park was purchased in 1897, making it one of the nation's oldest parks. Such a large acquisition was thought wise at that time because it was the only available open space within the city's limits and these areas were rapidly disappearing. Originally the land was low and marshy and served as a catch basin for surface water from the surrounding territory. By 1899, the land was completely under-drained and converted from a marshy bog into a beautiful and usable playground. A small lake was excavated near the center of the park. Little planting was necessary due to the fine character and abundance of trees on this land. In 1986 the vehicular through-roadway was eliminated, restoring the pastoral setting for recreational activities, as originally intended.
Credit for the inception of the Essex County Park System belongs to an Orange resident. Frederick W. Kelsey presented a resolution at a meeting of the Board of Trade on December 6, 1893, which was unanimously adopted, "that legislation may obtain at an early date that will enable the growing commonwealths in this portion of the State to provide a system of parks and parkways."
Subsequently legislation was introduced which became a chapter of Laws of 1894, providing for the establishment of the parks, and giving the Supreme Court Justices authority to name the commission of five citizens to have general supervision.
Negotiations were carried on by the Park Commission for the acquisition of the tract bounded by Center and Harrison Streets and Central Avenue. A sum of $17,500 secured the deal and the Commission declared that Orange would be provided with a park. An additional $100,000 was set aside for the purchase of necessary land to be incorporated in the park. The informal opening occurred on August 25, 1900.