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A Brief History of West New York


Before West New York was settled in 1790 and incorporated in 1898, Indians of the Hackensack inhabited the area.  West New York was a farm and timber area up until the Revolutionary War, but after Peter Stuyvesant purchased New Netherlands (New York City) from the Indians, the Dutch were among the most influential settlers.

When a tunnel was built through the Palisades at the West New York Town Line to New Durham (North Bergen), the railroad played an important role in the economy offering employment and attracting more settlers (most of them Irish) looking for work related to the railroad. From 1890 on, Germans, Swedes, Swiss, Slavs, Jews, and Armenians were among the most prominent settlers, starting many businesses and light industries.

With a total area of 1.4 square miles and a population of approximately 46,884, West New York sits atop Palisades across the Hudson River. Its location and easy access to New York City via the George Washington Bridge, and the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels would play a major role in its future development.

The name "West New York" first appeared on Robert C. Bacot’s Topographical Map of Hudson County in 1855. Union township was the legal name. On August 27, 1898, the West New York Incorporation Bill was passed and at a gala celebration, Tillie Brill, dressed as “the Goddess of Liberty” and holding the American flag christened the new town of West New York. The Walsh Act of 1911 authorized a commission form of government. The first mayor of West New York was John E. Otis, who served from 1898 to 1902.

Bergenline Avenue of the “Miracle Mile” is the business hub of West New York with over 300 businesses ranging from apparel, jewelry, beauty services, electronics, travel and real estate agencies, pharmacies, supermarkets, restaurants, medical services, car dealerships, banks, florists, and many more.

Over a dozen churches representing a variety of denominations are active in the community.

Six elementary schools (K-6th grades) and a newly built Middle School (7th-8th grades), an early childhood school for Pre-K, and a high school contribute to meeting the educational needs of the children and teens of West New York.

 

Timeline

The following is a brief timeline of significant historical events:
1855:

Name of West New York first appears on Robert C. Bacot’s Topographical Map of Hudson County.

1870:

Theodore Ristow builds the first group of frame houses on Madison Street. Most of the early “flats” were built by William Walser who later built one family houses which he called “high class” homes built in the Monitor Park section of the town. Many other builders soon followed.

1883:

Construction of a tunnel at the West New York Town Line (Palisades) to New Durham (North Bergen).

1894:

First electric trolley cars on Bergenline Avenue.

1896:

Taurus Post Office on Bergenline Avenue.

1898:

Incorporation of the Town of West New York.

1914: Cornerstone of the new Municipal Building is laid to replace the old Town Hall.
1915:

Prosperity Week celebrates the dedication of the Municipal Building. The library was located in the old Town Hall; May W. Garton, librarian. Number of vulumes: 2,700.

1922:

Cornerstone laying of the new West New York Free Public Library. Jessie Thompson, librarian.

1923:

115 business enterprises in West New York: embroidery, textiles, jewelry, handbags, woodcutting, quarrying, piano making, soap manufacturing, and many more.

1928:

Memorial High School is dedicated “To Those Who Made The Supreme Sacrifice” in World War I. A total of 1, 323 men and women of the area served in the war.

1939 - 1945:

World War II. West New York men and women serve with distinction in the Armed forces.

1952:

The West New York Public Library is officially dedicated as the Philip Allan Payne Memorial Library in memory of a newspaper editor of the Hudson Dispatch who attempted a solo flight from Maine to Rome, Italy in a plane christened “Old Glory”. It was reported lost in the Atlantic Ocean shortly after takeoff. A wheel recovered from the plane is now part of an exhibit in the library.

1960's-1970's:

Arrival of Cuban refugees to the area. West New York’s population increases dramatically. Other newcomers include South Americans, Central Americans, Asians, and Middle Easterners.

1974

Rededication of the West New York Public Library after undergoing extensive renovations. A large plaque hangs in the lobby commemorating the occasion.

1981

The beginning of waterfront development plans. Arthur E. Imperatore buys 400 acres of land in Weehawken and West New York for development. Price: 7.75 million.

1985:

400 condominiums and a marina proposed for West New York.

1986:

Ferry service begins between New Jersey (Weehawken) and Manhattan at Port Imperial shuttling more than 3000 passengers daily.

1990:

Proposed waterfront development projects:

  • Bergen Ridge

  • Port Imperial at West New York

  • Bulls Ferry

  • Jacob’s Ferry

  • The Landings at Port Imperial

  • River Bend at Port Imperial

  • Port Imperial South

  • Health Club

  • Ramada expansion

  • Hoboken Cove

  • The Shipyard

  • South Waterfront Project

  • Foot Mart International

  • Courtyard by Marriott Hotel

  • Atlantic Riverside

  • Newport Office center

  • Doubletree Hotel

  • Avalon Cove South

  • American Financial Exchange

  • Candlewood Hotel

  • The Portofino

  • The Marabella

  • Harborside Plaza

  • Washington Boulevard

  • Hudson Street

  • The Siena

  • Portside Tower II

  • Port Liberty Revival

  • Military Ocean terminal

  • 18-hole public golf course

These projects all included new roadways, sewers, fire and police stations

1991:

West New York Public Library installs an automated computer system integrating all operations enabling the library to handle all functions more efficiently and faster. Patrons have online access to the collection for locating books and other materials.

1995:

West New York Public Library starts to offer patrons access to the “Internet”.

1998:

Ongoing Projects: Under Mayor Albio Sires’s direction the Town Administration began these projects:

  • The beautification of 60th Street (sidewalks, trees, new lighting, parking)

  • Renovation of Miller Stadium (field and roof)

  • Little League: installation of lights for baseball and new field house and completion of new fencing around the Little League.

  • $1 million renovation for Veterans Park from Weehawken border to Donnelly Park on boulevard East.

  • Completion of Hudson Hall renovation (walls, door, and parking lot)

  • West New York Housing Authority: implementation of fixing of all units. New 200-space parking lot between 51st street and 52nd street behind Bergenline Avenue.

  • Construction of new park for children on Fillmore Place.

  • Municipal Building: exerior renovation includes new trees, cleaning of bricks, new marble retaining wall to replace iron fence, new sidewalks.

2000:

State funded Pre-K school opens to the children of West New York residents.

Future Projects:
  • 35,000 new residents on the waterfront

  • 6,200 new jobs

  • 1,600 high-rise apartments and condominiums

  • 3,200 new hotel rooms are all projected for the Edgewater, Weehawken, and West New York area

 

West New York Photo Album

This  West New York photo album was created, and is maintained, by Alan Ballester, a friend of the West New York Public Library. His efforts to preserve the history of the town of West New York are much appreciated. If you wish to add your own images of West New York, please e-mail the digital photo to Mr. Alan Ballester.

Click Here to access these images of West New York. You can also sign the guest book to communicate with West New Yorkers.

 


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