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Harsimus Cove
Located in Downtown Jersey City,
Approximately bounded by Bay Street, Coles Street,
Grove Street, and Sixth Street
Harsimus Cove Historic District
National Register of Historic Places
New Jersey Register of Historic Places

Detail of the 1841 Douglass Map of Jersey City. On this map, the term Harsimus is applied to the undeveloped properties just west of Paulus Hook.
Courtesy, Jersey City Free Public Library

Map of Jersey City and Van Vorst Township, NJ by M. Dripps 1850
Courtesy, Jersey City Free Public Library

The settlement of New Netherland by the Dutch West India Company (1621-1664) on the western side of the Hudson River contributed several locations and place names that would become part of present-day Jersey City. They are Pavonia, Communipaw, Harsimus, Paulus Hook and Bergen.

In the seventeenth century, marshes separated the island of Harsimus from the mainland in the area of Paulus Hook. It was where Mill Creek flowed into Communipaw Bay. Formerly known by its Indian name "Ahasimus," Harsimus was claimed by the Dutch in 1630 and became part of the patroonship of Michael Pauw. According to local historian Walter F. Robinson, there was a dam ". . . supplying power to the huge water wheels of Prior's Mill (near present Railroad Avenue at Merseles Street)" (Robinson, n.pag.). A post road later crossed Mill Creek and led to Bergen Square.

Cornelius Van Vorst, a superintendent of Pauw's land grant at Pavonia, built a home at Harsimus Cove near New York Bay. Until its demolition in 1967, the Van Vorst House was regarded as the oldest standing house in Jersey City. Its owner, Cornelius Van Vorst, was the patriarch of the Van Vorst family that lived for many generations in Jersey City and contributed to its development.

In the nineteenth century, Harsimus Cove was filled in by the Pennsylvania Railroad Co.


Grundy, J. Owen. The History of Jersey City, 1609-1976. Jersey City, NJ: Progress Printing Co., Inc. 1976.
Robinson, Walter F. Old Bergen Township (Now Hudson County) in the American Revolution. Bayonne, NJ: Keystone Printing Company, 1978.

By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub