F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hackensack
Journeys into Hackensack
In a recent posting about Hackensack favorite sons (daughters), the name of F. Scott Fitzgerald came up. We were so intrigued that we want to share it with you in a separate posting.
Regarded as one of the greatest American Writers of the 20th Century, Fitzgerald was considered the voice of The Lost Generation of the 1920s and wrote about the Jazz Age, a term he coined himself. In his writing career, Fitzgerald wrote more than 160 magazine articles, numerous short stories, as well as four novels. His most famous work, The Great Gatsby, is often considered the classic example of the American novel. He is still one of the most influential novelists in American literature.
He was born in Minnesota, spent his youth in Buffalo and then much of adulthood in Hollywood (where he did at age 44 in 1940).
But for a brief time in 1911, Hackensack was his home. It was when he was a student at the Newman Prep school- then at Essex Street and Polifly Road, now in Wayne.
And, it appears that his stay in Hackensack made an impression.
The late and beloved Kevin Wright, historian and former Bergen County Historical Society president, back in 2015 confirmed that parts of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” were inspired by the author’s real-life experiences in Hackensack. He said that said that Jay Gatsby — the protagonist who tries to win back the rich girl who broke his heart — is based on what happened to Fitzgerald when he was a student at Essex Street’s now-defunct The Newman School.
Moreover, under the Caption "F. Scott Fitzgerald drank whiskey on Main Street at 17" is found at a Hackensack Community bulletin board by Robert Fulford of the National Post note explaining that "In 1929 F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a little piece for The New Yorker that defined 16 years of his life by listing drinks consumed on notable occasions - including an entry for 1913 that reads: "The four defiant Canadian Club whiskeys at the Susquehanna in Hackensack." (Hotel Susquehanna at 179 Main Street).
Beyond that not much is known. But Fitzgerald is a noteworthy entry on the list of those that Hackensack is proud to call their own. In addition, he is a member of the New Jersey Hall of Fame for his stay in town (as well as his college years in Princeton).