The Hotels of Hackensack
Journeys into Hackensack
An online search for a hotel room in Hackensack these days indicates that you will not find one. It is not because they are all sold. Rather it is because there are no hotels listed.
It was not always this way.
Hackensack has a long history. It has been a hub in commerce, banking, law, medicine, schooling, entertainment and more. So logically there have been rooms for the night over the centuries for those who came to town.
In his fascinating 1999 "Historic Facts about Hackensack", George Mercer Scudder discusses some the history of hotels (Note this involves only large hotels - A separate discussion is deserving of Inns and Taverns during earlier times - that is saved for a future posting):
In the early history of New Barbadoes 'T'ownship and the Village of Hackensack, there were hotels of prominence that were an important part of north Jersey....These hotels were well known in this area during the period beginning 1750 to 1900. Some were still active during the early 1900's such as the Mansion House and Smith's Hotel.
One of the most popular during its period was the famous Susquehanna Hotel. located on the west side of Main Street between Mercer Street and the railroad. Records indicate that at least four United States Presidents dined there - Grant, McKinley, Taft, and Wilson, as well as many celebrities such as Horace Greeley and Mark Twain.
The Mansion House: This structure built in 175 1 was the home of Peter Zabriskie. George Washington made this his headquarters during his retreat from Fort Lee in 1776. The building was enlarged at a later date and became a Hotel and Tavern. It was a stop on the stagecoach line from Albany to New York and the birthplace of a bank and many fraternal organizations. It faced the Green, looking south from the corner of Main Street and Washington Place. It was demolished in October 1945, over many objections...Revolutionary War plans were discussed in the living room of this historic house with Generals Greene, Putnan, Mad Anthony Wayne. Light Horse Harry Lee, Poor, Mercer and Heath as well as the great and imposing General George Washington
Fairmount Hotel: This fine structure faced Elm Avenue looking east. It was located on the west side of what is now Summit Avenue, what was then Prospect Avenue, bounded on the north by Spring Valley Avenue, on the south by Fairmount Avenue and extended to the pond of the Coles Brook.
Much later, after World War II, The Oritani Motor Hotel became a longtime fixture in town. Actually, the place had quite a few lives to it. Originally, it was a classic motel. But over time renovations, additions and rebuilds occurred, leaving it virtually unrecognizable from its earlier versions. For some years it was known for a bubble like structure in the rear that one could see from the Riverside Square parking lot or from 2 Guys.It later years it was a Best Western Hotel and boasted a popular Japanese Restaurant. It was demolished a few years ago. The site is now occupied by the Avalon of Hackensack at Riverside apartments.
Today the closest hotel to Hackensack is just across the south border in Hasbrouck Heights. As Bergen County is seeing a boom in hotel room construction, perhaps one of the new projects gracing Main and River Streets might include a hotel to accommodate a new generation of travelers to town.