What is Historic Botany Village?
We are Historic Botany Village the oldest and most colorful section of Clifton, New Jersey. Where new faces and historic places combine to provide our visitors with diverse experiences around every corner. We are an eclectic blend of businesses. Whether a drug store that is the oldest in Clifton or an ice cream shop located on Parker Avenue, we offer something for everyone. We feed not only the mind but the body. In a place where hip meets historic, there are restaurants, night clubs and specialty shops of every taste and culture. We are the culture and the class. We are the future and the past. We are the best of a small village of merchants and a home town offering modern conveniences and old world charm.
What is The Botany Village Merchants Association?
The Botany Village Merchants Association is the oldest civic business association in Botany Village. The organization was re-organized in the late 1980’s by the late Perry Iomazzo who owned The Botany Village Card and Gift shop and has been in continuous operation since. In 2015 the organization under the leadership of John Penkalski and Joe Nikischer turned the organization into a Limited Liability Company (LLC) as a Not for Profit Civic Organization working to help the Business and Professionals of Botany Village and preserving the History Clifton’s Oldest and Most Colorful Neighborhood and Non Profit and Not for Profit Organizations throughout the city with funds raised at our Annual Labor Day Weekend Carnival and other Special Events held throughout the year. The Botany Village Merchants Association, LLC is run by a committee that makes all decisions for the organization.
HISTORY OF BOTANY VILLAGE
Historic Botany Village was one of Clifton’s first developed areas. Even before 1900, immigrants from all ethnic backgrounds settled in the area, and many worked in the Forstmann Mills, which were founded by German industrialist. This mill extended from Randolph Avenue into the Botany Worsted Mills, which at one time employed over 12,000 people. These mills made Clifton one of the important centers of the American wool industry. Botany Village was named after the Botany Worsted Mills who made the material for the famous Botany 500 suits. The area thrived with the many specialty shops and heavy traffic, friendly atmosphere and custom service.
Once the mills closed down in the 1950’s, there began a decline in the area which worsened with neglected buildings and lack of mass transportation. It called for urban renewal which began in 1969 when Bill Walters of the City of Clifton began a project to revitalize Botany Village resulting in the creation of a shopping square and restoration of all shops in a turn of the century-Victorian style. Tenement buildings were torn down, the Village Square, Sullivan Square located in the center of Botany Village and 5 public parking lots called horseless carriage lots were added. Keeping with the architecture of the turn of the century buildings, gas lamps and brick sidewalks were added and Botany Village was able to re-invent itself. Concerts were held and quaint Mom and Pop Specialty shops began thrive again.
Time again took its toll on Botany Village. With the shifting economy and the addition of Route 21 the life was just about sucked out of Botany. Many longtime businesses decided to leave the area and the old Forstmann Woolen Mills was raised to make way for a new modern shopping mall. A group of dedicated business owners and residents set out to again re-invent Botany Village. Botany Village became a Special Improvement District, the second in the City of Clifton and the revitalization began. A not for profit corporation was formed named Clifton’s Historic Botany District, Inc. The first item on the agenda was addressing Quality of Life issues. Historic Botany Village now has full time maintenance personal, Block Watch Security Ambassadors and aggressive promotion for Botany Village. The streets are now safer, the area is cleaner, new businesses are popping up and the air is again filled with music with free concerts and other special events drawing visitors from all over the surrounding area. Yes, Botany Village is back. Come visit us and see for yourself.