"The Hub of the Northern Valley"
Journeys into Closter
A few miles away officials from two towns like to engage in an occasional debate as to which can claim to be the "Crossroads of Bergen County". These days Paramus touts that distinction pointing to its many shopping malls, and its location at the intersection of Routes 4, 17 and the Garden State Parkway. Taking a differing view was Hackensack, given its long history as crossroads of local pikes, stage coach routes, railroad lines, and then later of trolley and bus routes. For a long time Hackensack claim was only a whisper. But one now hears renewed pride out of the county capital. It will be interesting in coming to see if a new era in Hackensack, now under development in the form of sleek condos appealing to a younger demographic, rekindles that rivalry.
But just as there is no disputing that Time Square is "Crossroads of the World", so too is there little argument these days to Closter's claim as "the Hub of the Northern Valley".
Most folks generally have a feel for what geographically is or is not included in the Northern Valley. According to Wikipedia, "Northern Valley is physically situated between the Palisades to the east and the Hackensack River to the west. The New Jersey-New York border and Rockland County border it to the north, while the municipalities of Fort Lee, Leonia, and Teaneck border it to the south".
That Wikipedia entry attributes fifteen municipalities as part of the region: Alpine, Bergenfield, Closter, Cresskill, Demarest, Dumont, Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Harrington Park, Haworth, Northvale, Norwood, Old Tappan, Rockleigh, and Tenafly.
Many feel that the "hub" of Northern Valley may have, just afew decades ago, well been to the south at one point (Englewood/Tenafly) , but that over the years it has gradually gravitated northward. This trend followed the opening of the Palisade Interstate Parkway, the Tappan Zee Bridge and the residential development that ensued through easier access.
These days the Northern Valley name is found at high schools in Demarest and Old Tappan, a regional newspaper and in multiple businesses.
But it is Closter's welcome sign that carries the message "Hub of the Northern Valley".
And, it is a claim that can be supported by historical fact. Though there are a number of functioning and attractive business districts up and down County and Knickobocker and Schralenburgh Roads, Closter is different. It benefited by its access as a first stop westward, and as crossroads along the major east west route (Closter Dock Road) after folks departed from the Hudson River landing at Alpine . This became crosssroads aspect gained additional significance after the north-south railroad came to town in the 1850's. Closter may not have been a borough until 1904, but long before the train station anchored a community and commerce around it.
Today as Closter continues to evolve and go in new directions as a community, but the term "hub" endures even as it takes on meaning for this century and values of the times.
Photo credit and acknowledgement: US Census Bureau