North Hackensack in 1970 - before New Bridge Landing

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North Hackensack in 1970 - before New Bridge Landing

Journeys into River Edge

Our journeys into River Edge sometimes take us into times and places from our community's past. Thanks to the folks at Vintage Bergen County, we quite interesting image from River Edge from another time found its way to us. This image has so much to say - one image with a number of stories to be told

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

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

My gaze, however, quickly took me beyond the McDonald’s. I wanted to soak in the neighborhood – a neighborhood of another place and time. A neighborhood that no longer exists. Indeed, it was like entering into another world.

Just across the train tracks (BTW, note  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 to make way for the Self-Storage facility that stands there (The Auto Body Shop and former barber shop that now houses a shoe repair business were spared demolition)

In the picture, Main Street was showing the signs of recently completed modernizations.  It had only recently been widened to four lanes. Moreover, a church building, once the home of the Cherry Hill Reformed Church and then the of River Edge Jewish Center before its last years as the Joseph Augusta Beauty Salon was gone, razed to the ground after it had sustained severe damage in a  fire.

Only a few short years after this picture  that location would look much different.  That site and most of the remaining residential homes on Elizabeth between Main Kinderkamack and Grand Avenue would soon 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 home of  a 7-11, can be seen. So too can the building across the street at the corner of Main and Kinderkamack. Now a CVS, it was home to the Total Wines before they were convinced to move into bigger quarters as part of a remake of the property.  It was originally built as an A&P and it remained a supermarket for decades. At this time it is unclear by the photo whether it was still an A&P or had become a Foodtown.

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

Just barely visible in the picture was the east end of the Cherry Hill Shopping Center, a complex long anchored by Huffman-Koos. At this time it was also home to Manor Pharmacy, River Edge Hardware, the Deli, a beauty parlor, a bakery and Thrift City Stationery (an era before Staples). The part of the shopping center visible in this picture 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 are worthy of note. 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 was still there. That place was the long time home of two staple businesses - businesses that had a walk through door connecting one to the other. One side housed a “candy store” which stocked candies, some sundries and stationery paper products (nothing like the stock of Thrift City a couple of blocks away). The other side was home of the North Hackensack post office before it moved over to its present site on Kinderkamack Road, in a bullding that was opened in 1960 to be a “Minute Market”. That was the name of a small grocery store sporting its own a parking lot –an early example of what would later become known as a convenience store. Back at Grand Avenue, the postal workers at that old post office used to relay to us stories of how mail would be delivered directly from trains through a window from trackside into the building. Today the building is long gone - few know of  its story. It stands now as a mostly vacant parking lot for another one of those 1970's era looking office buildings.

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 pictures 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.

North Hackensack in 1970 - before New Bridge Landing

North Hackensack 1970

Acknowledgement: Vintage Bergen County and credit: Reginald McMahon