River Edge's Ever Changing Street Names
Journeys into River Edge
Not too long ago when the weather was warmer, our family took a bike ride around town. Near Memorial Park, we turned down a street to find that it was no longer the street it used to be.
Apparently, a few years back, an elected official managed to get the name of his street changed from Fourth Avenue to Millbrook Road (Joining it in name with an earlier portion of the same street just to the south of Continental Avenue).
A welcome change to at least one resident of that block was a bit unsettling to me. But it seems that this street name change was only the most recent of many that have occurred in our community over the years.
For example, as the present day River Edge is actually a combination of two earlier separate entities (Cherry Hill and Old Bridge), efforts were made in the 1920’s to eliminate confusion and duplications of local thoroughfare names. Therefore, a Grand Avenue in the northern part came to be Bogert Road (so as not to be confused with Grand Avenue in North Hackensack – the present day one just off of Route 4). A Main Street in River Edge (Old Bridge) became Park Avenue so as to be distinguishable from North Hackensack’s Main Street that used to connect with Hackensack.
In the southern part of town, back in the early 20th century, area residents wanted to have their community associated with the neighboring and “up-and-coming” city of Hackensack. Cherry Hill (previously New Bridge) became North Hackensack. Street names also reflected this effort to connect with their neighbor to the south. What was previously Central Avenue and then Jersey Avenue became Johnson Avenue (named after William N. Johnson, a State Senator instrumental in his efforts to acquire land for what ultimately became Hackensack. He also donated land for a library on Main Street in Hackensack, which is now named after him).
To the north, today’s River Edge Road, also described as the road that led “from the bridge to the hill”, was called Bridge Street until 1926.
And then there’s Kinderkamack Road. Over the years, it has had various other names, including Riverside and Riverview Avenues. Similarly, for years what is now Kinderkamack Road south of Main Street was called Zabriskie Street (like the Zabriskie Street that now passes in front of the now abandoned Bergen County Police HQ in Hackensack).
Finally, north-south roads to the west of Bogert (then called Grand Avenue) were numbered when first laid out – First to Eighth Avenues. In 1926, First Avenue became Oak Avenue and Second Avenue became Elm Avenue.
While Fourth Avenue disappeared into Millbrook recently, Fifth Avenue, of course, remains a major borough thoroughfare. There also continue to be Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Avenues respectively.
There’s even still a Third Avenue – though it’s only a half a block long. It’s now a dead end cul-de-sac into the north end of Memorial Park with just one residence.
It’s a street that is one of River Edge’s hidden gems – another one of those quirky places with a story.