A Picture of North Hackensack, 1970 & the stories in it

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A Picture of North Hackensack, 1970 & the stories in it

Journeys into River Edge

We occasionally journey into the past with you here. But the folks at Vintage Bergen County consistently surprise and please with images from earlier times. Recently one such image found its way to us. It is one image that bares quite a few stories within it.

The picture is of the North Hackensack end of town and is dated 1970.

The most obvious aspect of the picture and what folks at the Vintage Bergen County Facebook page commented on were the classic golden arches of the McDonald’s on Main Street. It harkens back to an era of 15 cent burgers and a sign boasted how many burgers sold. That McDonald’s on Main Street, by the measure of those who can recall was the only second one to open in this part of Bergen County (the first was on Broadway in Fair Lawn – that one is still there too).

Unlike most, I immediately looked beyond the McDonald’s to soak in the neighborhood – it was entering into another world.

Just across the tracks (BTW the freight car notes when freight traffic was more prominent than the deteriorating passenger train service) one can see the old warehouse that was demolished some two decades later for the Self-Storage facility that stands there (The Auto Body Shop and former barber shop that houses a shoe repair business were spared demolition)

Main Street was showing the signs of recent changes, a widening to four lanes, and the demolition of the old church building, once the home of the Cherry Hill Reformed Church and then the River Edge Jewish Center before its last years as the Joseph Augusta Beauty Salon. The building, a vital landmark in the community, was razed to the ground after it had sustained fatal damage in a recent building fire.

Only a few short years later the site and most of the remaining residential homes on Elizabeth between Main Kinderkamack and Grand Avenue would be gone – making way to the medical office buildings that dot the neighborhood (There is Green Papaya that back in the early 1970’s was a Long John Silver).

One can also see the Gulf station in its last days. It too was a long time fixture at the southeast corner of Main and Kinderkamack – now the site of one of those 1970’s vintage buildings.

Mr. Bob’s Cleaners – now the site of a 7-11 can be seen in the photo. So too was the supermarket at Main and Kinderkamack before its days as a Total Wine and now a CVS. It is hard to tell but I believe this period might have been the last days of A&P – before it became a Foodtown.

The garden apartments and surrounding areas are notable for much larger the trees are 50 years later.

And, just barely in the picture was the east end of the Cherry Hill Shopping Center, anchored by Huffman-Koos but also at that time home to Manor Pharmacy, River Edge Hardware, the Deli, another beauty parlor and Thrift City Stationery (an era before Staples). The visible part of the shopping center was home to Brackett Cleaners and Emil’s Barber Shop (soon to be home to Nicky’s).

Lower in the picture on Grand Avenue a couple of points can be noted. One can barely see the roof of the old North Hackensack train station, which doubled as the home of Jay’s Fish market. On the north side of Grand Avenue a one story business building, 111 Grand, was still there. It was the home of two businesses that had a walk through door connecting one to the other. One side housed a “candy store” which stocked candies, a few sundries and stationery paper products (nothing like the stock of Thrift City a couple of blocks away). The other side was once home of the North Hackensack post office before it moved into its present site on Kinderkamack Road, in a building that was opened in 1960 to be a “Minute Market”, a small grocery store with a parking lot. This small building was novel at the time, an early generation of what would become known as a convenience store. Back at Grand Avenue, the postal workers used to relay to us how mail would be delivered directly from trains to a window trackside in the building. Today it is part of the parking lot for another office building, these days mostly vacant.

By 1970 the Cherry Hill section of North Hackensack was already a bit tired and considered dated. It had been separated from Hackensack by Route 4 and then bypassed by a culture that favored car travel to Paramus over a neighborhood. This picture marks the last days of an earlier neighborhood. Today, 50 years later, it again waits for decisions to be made about another transformation.

We thank and acknowledge Vintage Bergen County and Reginald McMahon, who made the image accessible and who got our memory machine working.