Edward E. Bruen
The first mayor of East Orange
In its 30 years of existence, the Township was
administered and meetings were held first from the office
of Moses Williams, then in the Ashland School and later
in the Commonwealth Building, after it was erected at
Arlington Avenue, near Main Street and the Railroad.
These makeshift arrangements proved inadequate for a
growing, burgeoning administrative machinery. In 1892, a
contract was given out for the erection of the first
Municipal Building on the north side of Main Street,
between Winans and Walnut Streets. The land cost $5,000
and the building, $5,204. Besides the township
administration, the police department was allotted space
in the new structure.
The move into the new headquarters spurred the talk of
becoming a city which had been a topic much discussed in
the days when consolidation was a burning issue. In 1895,
after the Fifth ward had been created, an act of the
State Legislature allowed the Township the authority to
elect a President, with all the powers of a mayor. Joseph
P. Thompson was the first elected to this new office,
followed in successive two year terms by Col. Abraham
Ryan and Edward E. Bruen.
Still, the township form of government irked the
efficiency minded town fathers. Mindful of the
population, which had by now grown to 30,000, one civic
figure characterized the local situation as a man,
endeavoring to array himself in boys
clothing. A special election was decreed for
December 9, 1899, at which voters were asked to approve
the idea of incorporating East Orange as a city. This
they did, with eyes glowing at a look into the future.
A city deserves a new headquarters. East Orange, already
earning a reputation for being one step ahead of events,
had planned for a new City Hall. It was to be built in
front of the existing structure. Not only was the idea
anticipated, and plans for it already in existence (since 1896), but the city went one
step further. Anticipating also a big yes
vote for incorporation as a city, the government had laid
plans for occupying the new building on December 11,1899,
two days after the election.
The new structure was directly in front of the old one,
cost $29,000 and was, in truth, ready for business on the
day the citys first Mayor, Edward E. Bruen, was
sworn in. The Township Committee altered its name to the
East Orange City Council and sat right down to business.
From A Centennial
History of East Orange