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Hudson City - The Jersey City Heights

 

 
Hexamer Map of Hudson and Hoboken Cities circa 1856
Courtesy: Jersey City Free Public Library
 

The Jersey City Heights refers to a large area of Jersey City located north of Journal Square and west of Downtown Jersey City and Hoboken. "The Heights," as it is most commonly known, includes many other smaller neighborhoods such as the Western Slope, Riverview Park, and Washington Village.

 

In its current usage, "the Heights" describes a much narrower geographic area than it did in the past when it frequently referred to almost anywhere on Bergen Hill, the long, narrow ridge of the southern Palisades that lies just west of the Hudson River waterfront.

 

Hudson City was one of several towns established within the boundaries of the newly formed County of Hudson during the mid-19th century. Between 1852 and 1855, Hudson City separated from the larger Township of North Bergen and it operated as a fully independent municipality and with its own Mayor and Council for fifteen years. Formed by the intersection of roads which led to Newark, Hoboken, Jersey City, and New York City, the Five Corners area was Hudson's City's transportational and commercial hub.

 

When founded, Hudson City had approximately 3,000 residents who lived along the Palisades ridge between Hoboken and the Hackensack River Meadowlands. Once a heavily wooded area, Hudson City became an appealing and convenient suburban community for many middle-class families looking for an alternative to the more densely populated nearby cities. At the same time, large numbers of immigrants, including Irish railroad laborers and German merchants and craftsmen, also began to settle in Hudson City.

 

One of Hudson City’s foremost citizens was Garret D. Van Reipen. He named the bank he helped found Hudson City Saving Bank after the new town. It was initially chartered by the New Jersey Legislature on March 27, 1868. Van Reipen became the second mayor of Hudson City (1860-1868) and became the first president of the bank in 1868.

Hudson City’s first mayor was General E.R.V. Wright. His mansion, called “Forest Home” was on a wooded estate in the area of Oakland Avenue. Wright served as a county prosecutor and congressman but failed to capture the Democratic party’s nomination for governor in 1859 (Grundy 40). The following year, Mayor Wright was succeeded by Van Reipen.

The Town Hall of Hudson City was initially at the former Simpson Methodist Church at 25 Oakland Avenue; it was later razed for the construction of the Third Precinct Police Station.

As the town increased in population and its civic interests became more closely aligned with its neighboring communities, the citizens of Hudson City voted to give up their independent political status. In 1870, Hudson City consolidated with the adjacent City of Bergen and the City of Jersey City under the name of the latter.

Today, the Jersey City Heights-Hudson City area is known for its many historic sites such Washington Park. The Van Vorst house at 531 Palisade Avenue was built in 1742 during the time of Dutch settlement. The Pathe Frere Studios, which once stood at the corner of Congress and Ogden streets, recalls the film industry that had its origins along the Palisades of New Jersey, ca. 1914. On Summit Avenue is Grace Lutheran Church noted for its stained glass windows by the famed J. & R. Lamb Studios of Clifton, NJ. Congregation Mount Sinai, the oldest synagogue in Hudson County founded in 1906, is at 128 Sherman Avenue.

References:

"Garret D. Van Reipen." New York Times 2 August 1899.
Grundy, J. Owen. The History of Jersey City, 1609-1976. Jersey City, NJ: Progress Printing Co., Inc., 1976.
"Neighborhood Spotlight:The Heights." http://www.jerseycityindependent.com/2013/11/22/neighborhood-spotlight-the-heights/
Article claims Van Reipen to be the "first mayor" of Hudson City.Retrieved. 30 April 2014.

By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub