On River Edge's Name

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On River Edge's Name

A Journey into River Edge

It's an era replete with history dating back centuries. But River Edge's name, in contrast, is a relatively recent change.

Most folks who have spent any time around here know of the Van Steuben House and the story surrounding it which is grounded in the Revolutionary War. Even before that time the area was settled by Dutch, and, of course, long before this neighborhood was home to indigenous peoples.

This community on the west bank of the Hackensack has been known by a number of names over the years. Many were tied to the river or train stops - New Bridge Landing and North Hackensack at what is now the south end of town. Up north the area was at times called Midland Twnship or Old Bridge.

Histories of the borough tell us that River Edge was incorporated in 1894, during what is now described as the "Boroughitis" phenomenon then sweeping through Bergen County, in which 26 boroughs were formed in the county in that year of 1894 alone.

While the borough was incorporated in 1894, it was not called River Edge back then. In fact, it was originally known as Riverside. The name was not changed to River Edge until 1930 - by a referendum vote of 523 "for" and 97 "against". It supposedly was done to avoid confusion with a Riverside in Hunterdon County (There is one is South Jersey near Philadelphia as well). But that version of the story rationalizing the need to change names does not account for the persisting modern day multiplicity of other community names - such as Union, Red Bank and Washington Township.

Check out an atlas or map of New Jersey and you will see that multiple communities with the same name can coexist in the Garden State, notwithstanding the stated need at the time to change the name of our community.

The issue, these days, is moot. Nowadays, to the extent that anyone knows who we are, we are most frequently confused with Edgewater - a very different community on the banks of that other river the flows near New York City.

Historical Source: The History of River Edge, 1693-1964 by Sigmund H. Uminski (Hauser Printing Company)