When Oradell Had Its Own Taxi Service
A Journey into Oradell
With gas prices still high and unlikely to ever go back down to levels we once thought as normal, there is much talk these days about necessary changes in how we get around.
Increased rail service on the Pascack Valley line is one example of how folks are trying to anticipate and promote these necessary changes rather than try to react after the fact.
It is interested to see, however, that when one detrains at the classic Oradell Station, travel options are locally are quite limited.
There is a driveway for pickups. N.J. Transit and Rockland Coaches have bus stops accessible just beyond the station.
Or one can walk.
Yes - there are taxi services, but the call must be made to service and cabs waiting outside of town.
It was not always that way.
Once upon a time, back at about the time of World War I, Oradell boasted a fleet of four cabs.
J. Irving Crumps’ Biography of a Borough: Oradell (1969) describes how it was at a time that the railroads were at their peak , and the Oradell train station was situated closest to Camp Merritt, an important army camp located at what is now the site of the Cresskill Circle. So, business was good moving troops in and out. So good, in fact, that the McCurdy family came down from Westwood to join with the Blauvelts (no relation to the Blauvelts from the Blauvelt Manor) and would eventually buy him out.
Crump describes the fares of the period – 15 cents for a trip from the train station to homes on the first hill; 25 cents to homes on the second hill with 10 cents for each additional passenger. Trips to Camp Merritt were calculated differently, though Crump’s book provides no additional details.
There were even longer trips to be had, states the author. Journeys to New York, the Hoboken ferry or Jersey Shore were not unusual destinations (Guess they were that era’s airport run).
It all started changing in the 1920’s. World War I was over, Oradell was no longer a troop or vacation destination and the railroad would soon be eclipsed by the auto and the bus.
One by one, the fleet of four cabs shrank, until the last car would pass when George McCurdy died.
Yellow Cab from Hackensack and then Comfort Cab (first of River Edge and later of Woodcliff Lake) would service the community for a spell. So would Ridgewood Taxi. But today, decades after George McCurdy’s last taxi run, Oradell, like so many communities that have to rely primarily on the car to get around, still could use a modern day George McCurdy to help us meet the transportation challenges of our times.
This piece was written for River Dell Patch - where it first appeared in July, 2011.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Source Materials - Biography of A Borough: Oradell (1969), by Irving Crump; Oradell Centennial; 1894-1994…..Thanks to Borough Historian Frank Vierling for his guidance. And, a special thank you to Borough Archivist, George Carter for his ear, his support generally and in particular his help in securing historic pictures from the Borough/Library Collection….. The Archives, located at the Oradell Public Library, are open to the public the first Friday afternoon of the month from 1-5 p.m.