Stories in a Picture from the 1970's: The Junkyard

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Stories in a Picture from the 1970's: The Junkyard

Journeys into River Edge

"Every picture tells a story" goes an old saying. Thanks to Martha Szalay Scannell on Pinterest, we are blessed with a 1970's vintage picture that tells quite a few stories about River Edge.

Her caption describes the picture "Bergenfield Junk Yard at Main Street & River Streets, River Edge".

The name might have read Bergenfield, but it was OUR junk yard. So River Edge of that time. There as a gateway into town was a junkyard. It was notorious.

I only actually went inside once, but by what I was told by a generation now gone it was mostly an auto junk site - rusted relics more valuable deconstructed than for any attachment to it whole.

For most of us it was an unsightly presence in our midst. Medal walls rimmed the place. There was a two story "office". The rest was a mystery to me and my generation. Something there to be endured,

The business held that prime location in an era where streetscape was virtually unheard of. No flowers. No plantings. No frills.

What made the presence of this unique hometown business so maddening was that its location adjacent to the historical site - then called the Von Steuben House, now Steuben House - part of the New Bridge Landing. Who is to say that there was not history on that site too. But we as River Edge folks were left with a junkyard with little regard for either the past or the then present.

Forever there had been talk of efforts to secure the land for something better. Most of us had all but given up hope of seeing any change in our lifetimes. But thanks to the hard work and persistence of the dedicated folks at the Bergen County Historical Society it eventually did happen.

Today one sees the remarkable change that has occurred. It now has been restored to a bucolic natural state, quite in keeping with the history of the New Bridge Landing, even if in stark contrast with the development that has otherwise scarred that part of town.

The property is about to undergo another change. Construction is set to begin soon for a museum and interpretive center. From the reports we hear it will be tastefully done and be quite an addition to our community.

Sometimes one can indeed go home - in this case into our history.

As we do so, we recall the Bergenfield Junkyard - what it once represented and how it too, not withstanding its notoriety, is now part of our community's historical narrative.