Hackensack as a long-time transit hub - Part 2 - Roads, Pikes & Taverns

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Hackensack as a long-time transit hub - Part 2 - Roads, Pikes & Taverns

Journeys into Hackensack

In February, 2016 Hackensack became the 31st community in New Jersey to receive the designation Transit Village.

Most of those other transit village communities were so designated because of their connection to rail service. Though Hackensack has is blessed with two rights of way, and two stops along N.J. Transit's Pascack Valley line, the focal point of its designation was Hackensack Bus Terminal. The bus terminal provides access to 12 different NJ TRANSIT bus routes, and connects riders to the George Washington Bridge Bus Station as well as to Jersey City and Newark and many northern New Jersey locations.

The idea of the transit village is that it serves as an anchor Hackensack's downtown redevelopment plan for the area within a half-mile of the terminal. The plan promotes retail and commercial improvements and aims to create a connected community around all three transit facilities.

Notwithstanding the excitement this designation is creating, Hackensack has long been a transportation hub.

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This series is inspired by a wonderful source of information about Hackensack's history we recently came upon. It is very entertaining and easy to read ("Historic Facts about Hackensack", compiled and written by George Mercer Scudder, September, 1999). Part of it outlines Hackensack's changing role in transportation over the years. We share it with you here and highly recommend it to you. In Part 1 of this Series, we shared with you some of the history of the role of the river. In this part we take a look at the roads, turnpikes and taverns of Hackensack's early years:

Travel by land was over rough and unimproved dirt roads until the early 1800's. These roads were usually old Indian trails and were never in a straight line or level. Travel was by horseback or horse drawn wagons. Stagecoach lines were the popular way of traveling before the advent of railroads, trolley cars, or the bus. Taverns served as terminals and stopping places for the stagecoach lines. The taverns were registered and licensed by the state and were required to provide food and lodging for travelers as well as food and shelter for their horses at prices fixed by the state. These rates as well as those charged by the stagecoach lines were set in 1763 and revised in 1781. From Hackensack, stagecoach lines famed out in every direction fiom the various taverns to Ridgewood, Englewood, Rutherford, Paterson, Newark and New York. The "Hackensack House", a tavern located just south of the "Green" was the terminal for the stage going to Rutherford. The "Hackensack Tavern" located near the library was the beginning and end point for the stage line to Paterson and Ridgewood. The tavern west of the Mansion House was the stopover for the Albany to New York stage line. These stagecoaches also carried the U. S. Mail.

The roads within the village of Hackensack consisted of Front Street (Main Street) and Back Street (State Street) and a few cross streets: "Lower Road" (Essex Street); "Kings Road" (Passaic Street). The roads were unimproved dirt without curbs or sidewalks. These came in about 1856 as did many of the cross streets named after counties in the state - Salem, Camden, Mercer, Bergen, and Morris. In 1802 a concerted effort was made by the state to improve the roads, permitting turnpike companies to be organized and licensed. This gave these companies the right to raise funds by selling shares, at $25 per share, to build roads and charge tolls. The result was the construction of a turnpike to Hoboken in 1803, to Paterson in 18 15, to Jersey City in 1804, and to Fort Lee in 1828. The roads were built according to rigid specifications and operated by the Bergen Turnpike Company. Roads were four rods wide and cost $7,000 per mile to build. Tollgates were installed at both ends of each road and a toll of five cents per horse was charged. In 1915, these turnpike roads and tolls were abolished.

Image credit: David Demarest Biography