«HACKENSACK - HERITAGE TO HORIZONS PUBLISHED BY: THE HACKENSACK BICENTENNIAL COMMITTEE TERRY LARK, EDITOR DR. IRWIN TALBOT, PHD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR ...»
"How we girls worked in helping to clean up that old room and getting the books covered and ready for distribution. And how we made lists of the new books we thought were needed, and when bought, what time we spent over their indexing."
Determined volunteers seem to have always been a part of Hackensack's heritage and the accomplishment of important local innovations.
The Post Office Records indicate that the post office at Hackensack was established on August 28, 1797, with Archibald Campbell as the first postmaster. From 1798 to 1817 the service, paid for by the government, was rendered from tavern bar-rooms, living rooms in the postmasters' homes, space allotted in the "general stores" and three large stores on Main Street.
On January 1, 1851, Hackensack was one of only five post offices in Bergen County.
City delivery was established in Hackensack on July 1, 1890, with three carriers. Rural delivery service began in Hackensack on September 2, 1901 with two carriers, and each received $500 a year. The first letter carrier was John Z. Zabriskie.
In August, 1956, the State Street post office was designated a temporary sectional center facility and the annex was located at Union Street. In 1963 the annex moved to Newman Street and then in 1967 moved to the present location at Huyler Street in South Hackensack. In 1971 the Hackensack post office was officially designated as a sectional center facility, which serves 45 towns. Hackensack called "The Mamma Facility" is the largest such facility in Bergen County.
William J. Nawrocki became postmaster on February 22, 1964, and remains in that position today.
Add pics of 1916-1917 construction of State Street Post office.Post World War II
After World War II drastic changes occurred in Paramus, River Edge and many of the towns around us. With much open space available, which an older, more established town like Hackensack did not have, they now blossomed forth with tracts of housing developments, industrial parks, newly designed shopping centers and malls.
Prior to those changes Hackensack's Main Street had been the shopping center for the county, with sidewalks crowded with people on shopping nights and lines of cars heading for Main Street often backed up to Rochelle Park on a Friday night. In the 1950s, patrons began to be absorbed by the new Bergen Mall and Garden State Plaza, causing hardship to the Hackensack merchants. Some merchants moved out to the malls and some were strong enough to remain in Hackensack.
In 1956 a Master Plan was undertaken to review past and current situations and plan for the future. Based on these projections, changes were inaugurated in cleaning out such depressed residential areas as Moore Street and replacing them with office buildings, which then helped to revitalize the business area. Bloomingdale's built a beautiful department store in Hackensack, upgrading the northern area of town. Meanwhile, the older southern end of Hackensack was deteriorating.
Other problems existed on Prospect Avenue as individual old mansions no longer attracted wealthy people to town and the affluent moved out to the more rural and residential Ridgewood and Saddle River. Fearing that the once stately homes could become rundown rooming houses, the administrators followed the Master Plan and rezoned the area for luxurious high-rise apartments. This brought many former Hackensack residents back and attracted new residents who have helped to revitalize Hackensack. They are often genuinely concerned and interested people who strive for better parks, more tennis courts and other amenities. Our new citizens have taken an active part in the community and have added impetus to Hackensack's ever strong interest in quality education.
In the 1960s the school system underwent modernization with additions and improvements to the Middle School, High School, Fanny Hillers, Fairmount and later, the new Maple Hill School, while also upgrading athletic fields and grounds.
During the '50s, '60s and '70s the City added public housing to replace blighted homes and created low rent Senior Citizens housing. Regulating the quality of buildings has become important as many older structures in the built up city had begun to deteriorate. Property Codes, planning and other measures are proving their value with the City's continuing vigorous face lift. The last area of challenge is now under consideration as the business district is receiving concerted attention with emphasis on careful maintenance and rehabilitation.
Fortunately, the City has a good fiscal base and bonding powers, making the long-term future of Hackensack bright.
Chapter XI Persons and happenings...
Hackensack occupies 4.6 square miles. The elevations of the city run from three feet to 120 feet above sea level. New York City is seven miles to the east and its skyline can be seen from a number of locations.
Half of the total area of the city is residential, the people living in one-family, two-family and multi-family dwellings which include garden apartments, high-rise apartments, condominiums, and senior citizen housing. The other half of the City's land is commercial and includes offices, retail stores, research facilities, warehousing and light manufacturing. The shopping hub is Main Street.
The growth of resident population in Hackensack from 1834, when 1,000 people lived here, can
be noted in these periods:
By 1840 - 2,631 1910 - 14,050 1950 - 29,219 1880 - 4,248 1920 - 17,667 1960 - 30,521 1890 - 6,004 1930 - 24,568 1970 - 36,008 1900 - 9,443 1940 - 26,279 1976 - 40,000 Current Demographics Hackensack's daytime population increases to 125,000 with people coming from all parts of Bergen County to work in and utilize the County's administrative and judicial facilities, plus other business and services in the City.
The building at 73-75 Main Street was constructed in 1800 by Albert G. Doremus. It was his beautiful stone residence and a stop on his fast New York to Albany stage line. The line carried passengers and mail and changed horses at this point. Mr. Doremus was also postmaster in Hackensack from 1845-1849. His son, Richard, ran the line after Albert's death until the service was outmoded and discontinued. The building at 73 Main Street, with lovely sculptured work on the top may be the original structure, and 75 Main Street possibly an addition that may have been used as a courtyard for coaches.
There are a few other old buildings in town such as Mrs. Felice Dellasala's lovely brick house at 22 Warren Street. It has large black numbers on the side of the house, 1842, denoting the date of construction, and has remained in excellent condition, with the original timbers throughout. A red brick building on the Green, now occupied by law offices, dates from about 1834 when it was the headquarters for the War Hawk bank which had outgrown its space in the Old Mansion House It is regrettable that the Mansion House was torn down in 1945. In corner May of 1976 a plaque was placed on the office building at the on of Main Street and Washington Place by the Bergen County Bar Association.
Richard Varick was born and baptized in the Old Dutch Church of Hackensack in 1720. He served as Washington's military secretary, collecting many of the General's papers for safe keeping. The documents are now in the Library of Congress. He later moved to New York. The Varick family which had settled in Hackensack circa 1687, became important in early New York City social, political and commercial worlds. Varick Street in Manhattan is named in honor of the one-time New York Mayor Richard Varick. He considered Hackensack to be his true home and is buried at the Church on the Green. Richard's son James Varick occupies a special place in the history of the African America race in America. His mother was a slave in the household of the Varicks. James was born in the period when the best brains and blood were aflame with a desire for liberty, crystallized in the Declaration of Independence, which was signed when James was 26 years old. Growing up in New York City he began to show his own independence and free spirit. In 1796 about 30 blacks, under the leadership of James Varick formed the first church for blacks in New York City. His activities for his race were unceasing. Free black people of the time were normally poor. Varick's devotion to his wife and family, his religion and race moved him into a selfless life. Along with his trade of shoe-making, he labored outside his home as a tobacco cutter to earn extra wages. He also ran a classroom in his home and at his church. At the same time, he was leading a few devout men and women to establish an independent local church for members of his race.
The church outgrew its localism and became one of the great world-wide religious bodies, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. James Varick was elected the first bishop and consecrate on Sunday, July 30, 1822, presiding until his death in 1827.
On State Street just south of Mercer Street once stood the Armory (or the Opera House, as it was often called). It was not only used for drilling by the Guardsmen in the first floor and auditorium, but The Hackensack Dramatic Association enjoyed the premises as well for their theatrical productions using the fine state on the second floor.
The first play to be performed at the Armory was called "My Awful Dad," in 1890, and was so popular as to be followed by 33 more such productions in the next 10 years. The interior of the building was gutted by a fire in 1899, shortly after being the locale of a banquet honoring returning Hackensack Spanish-American War heroes.
One of the most famous men to come out of Company G, which drilled at the Armory, was Captain Harry B. Doremus. He had served as a private in the Spanish-American War and as a Lieutenant in the Federal Service against Pancho Villa Mexican marauders. On a battlefield in France in World War I, Captain Doremus was mortally wounded just before the armistice.
When the city's schools had no auditoriums, graduation ceremonies were held at the Armory.
Many nurses from Hackensack Hospital School of Nursing were capped there. It was here, too, that the original "Celtics" (famous pro basketball team) played their games and that local towns' high school rivalries were fought. The Armory also had fame for the prize fights scheduled there, including matches of Maxie Rosenbloom, one-time World Light Heavyweight Champion. The Guardsmen continued to use the Armory over the years...up to the time of Pearl Harbor.
George Scudder tells us,"...it would be well to point out that the region known as 'Cherry Hill' extended from about Highland Avenue in River Edge south to about Poplar Avenue in Hackensack. The name 'Cherry Hill' was officially abandoned in the late 1880's following the Cherry1 Hill tornado, and for other good reasons... The Fairmount area was once known as 'Zingsem1, the name being derived from Mr. G.N. Zingsem, architect of 'Fairmount Park' in Philadelphia, and his name was replaced by honoring his park instead."
(The Cherry Hill tornado moved a church off its foundation and caused much damage. It was a freak storm and none of its caliber has lashed the area since.) In 1876 farming was still a major occupation in the Hackensack Valley. In Bergen County, farms and implements were worth $19,554,60 of the total valuation of taxable property of only $23,436,518.
Two hundred years ago every rich farmer had a horse for Sunday rides to church and such, but the ox was the important animal and the one most used for agricultural duties. The Hackensack Valley farmers made masks for their oxen in order to cover their eyes and keep them from eating any growing greens which would cause the animals to break the rhythms of plowing the fields.
As Thomas Paine, author of "The American Crisis", accompanied Washington and his retreating army from Fort Lee to Hackensack and across Bergen County, he wrote the oft quoted words, "These are the times that try men's souls..."
Mrs. Alice Huyler Ramsey was reared in Hackensack, was graduated from high school in 1903, and went on to attend Vassar College. Her fame came about from a drive across the United States starting June 9, 1909, in a Maxwell touring car. Three other young girls were with her on the trip, although none of them drove. Alice was president of the Women's Motoring Club of Hackensack and though she had been driving only a year, agreed to the Maxwell Company's proposal to make the trip in order to prove that women could handle automobiles.
There were no dull days, what with Indians in Wyoming, storms and floods in South Dakota, 11 tire changes, one broken axle, Iowa roads being all deep mud, Nebraska roads covered with grass several feet high, no gas stations or mechanics to depend on. The roads in the East were good, mostly hard packed dirt and a few of asphalt. The trip took 41 days. Her book about this trip, Veil, Duster and tire Iron, is available in the Johnson Library. She earned her title as First Lady of Automobile Travel, awarded in 1960 by the AAA and Automobile Manufacturers Association. While Patrick Henry was telling the world to give him Liberty or Death, here in Hackensack our John Fell stood on the steps of the Old Church on the Green and called on his fellow townsmen to resist the encroachment on their rights by the British Parliament. He was so great a thorne in the sides of the Royalists that he was kidnapped one night and delivered into the hands of the British. Unfortunately, no records appear that tell the aftermath of his imprisonment.
Richard Varick, who is buried in the cemetery of the Church on the Green, served as Washington's military secretary at the end of the Revolution and was one of the great patriots from this area. Varick collected many of the George Washington papers for safe-keeping that are now in the Library of Congress. Varick later served as Mayor of New York City, but considered Hackensack his true home.
For centuries before the settlers came, Polifly Road was a narrow trail winding through lush green thickets and dark forests. This was Indian country; here were the hunting grounds of Oratam. With the coming of the Dutch, Polifly Road became an important highway and it was along this early county road that many chose to build their homes. Among them was the Hopper family, which settled here in 1667 on the east side of the road in a typical brown sandstone homestead.