Here’s a brief summary below on the history of Summit from cityofsummit.org. Also, please see the New York Times article about Summit titled “Summit, N.J.: A Place to Grow Into and Stay”: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/01/realestate/summit-nj-a-place-to-grow-into-and-stay.html
The region passed from Indian to Colonial possession by purchase on October 28, 1664 for “twenty fathoms of trading cloth, two made coats, two guns, two kettles, ten bars of lead and twenty handfuls of powder.”
Summit’s earliest settlers came here about 1710. Most of the founding fathers brought Puritan heritage from the British Isles, and from neighboring New England, Connecticut and Long Island. Finding a true paradise, the Summit area was abundant in timber for building cabins, rabbits for food and pelts, plentiful turkey, and a fertile valley for growing wheat and corn. Plus the Passaic River was full of fish to eat and water to float boats.
Where did “Summit” get its name?
In 1837, the railroad came over the “The Summit” hill, whose name was later shortened to Summit. During the Revolutionary period and for some time afterwards Summit was called the “Heights over Springfield” and was considered a part of New Providence. The original name of Summit was “Turkey Hill” to mark it apart from “Turkey”, as New Providence was known until 1750.
In 1869, Summit separated itself from New Providence and became the “Township of Summit”. Thirty years later on April 11 1899, The City of Summit was incorporated. Read the City of Summit Charter (PDF).
From Then To Now
Originally, Summit was a cozy farming community populated by about 300 people until 1837. The community began to change from a rural farming and milling to quasi-commercial. After the Civil War, Summit became a summer resort area because of its crisp, clean mountain air and convenient proximity to New York City. Summit attracted extremely wealthy people who built extensive summer estates.
The landscape has had a definite influence in the development of Summit. This tree-dense suburban community is nestled in the hills of the Watchung Reservation with six square miles of broken hills at a 450-foot elevation. Summit sits above Springfield, to the west of Millburn, and just northwest, Chatham joins Summit to pinch the broad valley of the Passaic River.
Summit is a family-oriented residential community with light industry. Many Summit settlers and current residents have attributed significantly to the world’s business, industrial and government affairs. More importantly, their relentless dedication for volunteerism has made the Summit community a leader in civic mindedness. The governing body has sought out experts on economics, communications, education, government administration, physical and mental health, recreation, social planning, transportation and safety; all adding to the great growth of Summit, then and now.