Of Old and New

4.2
Of Old and New

Journeys into Closter

Read the New York Times,  talk to the Mayor or just head about town and one is quick to discover that Closter is a desireable place to call home. It is also a place of the new and old side by side.

In fact, though the Borough of Closter dates back only a bit over 100 hundred years, this is an area whose story goes back centuries.

It was only in 1904 that Closter as we know it today was created. Prior to that time it was part of Harrington Township, a township covering a large stretch territory (from Hackensack Township  (New Barbados) in the south - to the New York State border in the north and from the Hudson River westward to the Saddle River), including modern day Oradell, Westwood, River Vale, Washington Township and more.

The name Closter, however, dates back to times much earlier. Most connect it to the earliest Dutch settlers. It first appears in a 1721 deed between the surviving native Tappan Patentees and Peter Haring (He owned land in Harrington Park/Norwood east of Tappan Rd. and between Harrington and Blanche Avenues) - the meets and bounds of the deed begin “Beginning at the bridge which comes out of the Clooster by the Dwars Kill . . ."  (At that time , Closter was considered part of New York State). In the Dutch language, Klooster or "clooster" means "a quiet place, a monastery or cloister."

Some sources have claimed that the name derives from an early settler named Frederick Closter. Claims have been made that Frederick Closter is a myth that dates back to the 1940s.

More generally accepted is that the Dutch clooster over the years became anglicized first before the American Revoltion when the "k" turned into a "c" and then in the late 1790's when an "o" was dropped leaving us the modern day "Closter".

Either way, the name of Closter was associated to this neck of the woods long before the establishment of the borough claiming its name today.

No matter what the name, this area - known as the Hub of the Northern Valley - has a rich and varied history.

In future journeys, with appreciation and gratitude towards the Closter Historical Society and the great work they do, we will share some of the headlines of some of the eras and events that help mold Closter into the great place it is today.

For example, there is that early settlement period, mainly Dutch. Later there is  the colonial period, highlighted by Revolutionary War families and events such as the use of Closter Dock Road by troops during the Revolutionary War. (The historic marker in front of the Alpine Community Church explains the road's history). Then there are perhaps the most noteworthy events in Closter's history - both transportation related:  the establishment of the railroad in the 1850's and then the opening of the GW Bridge some 80 years later.

We will be journeying into those events as well some of the aspects of community life that distinguish Closter and make it unique.

Stay tuned for these explorations. And, as we do so we invite you to add your own narratives - whether about the Closter you know and love or maybe stories you once heard about Closter as it once was.

Maybe it's about something old - maybe it's about something new. Maybe it's about making something old into something new again.

These stories are stories not only help us remember what used to be. They also remind us why Closter mattered - and still does.