It's been mentioned before on this blog that North Bergen is more than just a town, and anyone that is from town can verify that. However, what I mean by "North Bergen is more than just a town" is literally that, it's not a town, but several towns. Historically speaking, North Bergen was originally known as the "Villages of North Bergen" as the town once contained present day Jersey City Heights, Union City, Weehawken, Hoboken, West New York, Guttenberg, Secaucus and even present-day parts of lower Bergen County. But within the town, the unique neighborhoods almost act as different towns. Most residents will identify as being from either up-town, mid-town or down-town. But if you continue to peel back the layers you will find even in those 3 parts of town there are still yet smaller enclaves. In this series we will explore the historic neighborhoods on North Bergen, from Tyler Park to Shadyside, Meadowview to Woodcliff and beyond. This first post will focus on the northern most neighborhood in town, Shadyside.
Shadyside circa 1942
Courtesy of Tom Kruglinski
Shadyside is one of the oldest, and perhaps, most transformed neighborhoods in North Bergen. Shadyside was originally settled because it was a natural landing spot along the Hudson. Add the fact it had two passable routes to the top of the Palisades, roads we know today as Bull's Ferry and Gorge Road. Shadyside, and the roads created, fit perfectly with the people who began to call the area home. As Michael Kruglinski wrote they were "no nonsense people," and named things after landmarks and natural inspiration. Bull's Ferry Road named for the Bull family which operated the ferry at the base of it, Gorge Road named for, well for the fact it follows the path of a gorge and Shadyside itself named for shade the Palisades cast during sunset. Shadyside itself flourished during its early days. Home to a natural port and easy access for farmers to deliver their crops for the New York market and beyond, the area grew to its maximum capacity very quickly.
Shadyside circa 1920
View from above present day Churchill Road
Courtesy of Tom Kruglinski
Shadyside naturally flourished. It was a riverside neighborhood that thrived as Hudson County developed in the shadow of New York City. The residents there worked in every aspect of maritime industries. With Robert Fulton's advent of the steam engine Shadyside was crossed by a railway and visited by ferries to New York as well as ships heading down river, and even across the Atlantic. It was also home to several local fishing operations. At one point the Hudson River provided shad in the spring; then striped bass, tommy cods, eels and Jersey blue crabs in the summer. All of which were fresh caught right there then sold or shipped to the surrounding markets. The other industry that fit right into the neighborhood was the quarry industry. A stone crusher was established and the Palisades pushed back, much of the blue stone found in the area came directly from this quarry. The stone was then moved by truck, rail and ship to be used throughout New York City, Hudson County and beyond.
Map of Shadyside
Bergen County Walker Atlas circa 1876
Courtesy of Tom Kruglinski
Even though Shadyside has changed greatly over time, the one place that remains constant is the old walking path. Today if you follow Churchill Road to its end you will walk right into a nearly 200-year-old foot path. The path connects with Albert Place, which fellow local historian Ron Skokandich refers to as Upper Shadyside neighborhood. Nonetheless this was a part of the original Shadyside settlement as it sits below the cliffs of the Palisades. The path was established as a shortcut by the early settlers of the area as the alternative was to scale the rocky cliff side of the of the Palisades, which was a favorite pastime of the children that once called Shadyside home. During the 1930s the path was called Frances Place
Riverside Place, looking north, circa 1936 The building to the left behind the utility pool is 9005 Riverside Place
Courtesy of Lenny DiBrango
Today, Shadyside has very little remains of its past. The Hoboken and Hudson Turnpike is now River Road and Church Street changed to Churchill Road, The once proposed Hillside Place, which was intended to connect Shadyside to North Bergen with extensions from Frances and Albert Place, has returned to its natural state. The only true remaining marker of the original Shadyside is Riverside Place, and it is mostly in its name. The homes that line Riverside Place are mostly the original homes, however some have been greatly modified over the years, others have become dilapidated due to neglect or unfortunately torn down and replaced during the ongoing real estate development boom along the Hudson River. The 1910 maps below along with a screen shot from Google Earth shows the lay of the area:
Michael Kruglinski. (1992). Shadyside 1921-1941. Englewood, NJ: Author.
Michael Kruglinski and others. (1998). North Bergen Yesterday. North Bergen, NJ: Author(s).
Digital Maps and Geospatial Data | Princeton University. (n.d.). https://maps.princeton.edu/catalog/princeton-3f462748f https://maps.princeton.edu/catalog/princeton-bn999878s https://maps.princeton.edu/catalog/princeton-gb19f785w Patrick Gould Ass'n Outing. (1901, August 17). The Evening Journal [Jersey City], p. 2 Wife Forgives But Beating Coast Cop $31. (1924, June 3). The Jersey Journal [Jersey City], p. 3. Friend Bothers Cop, Pays Fine. (1925, September 29). The Jersey Journal [Jersey City], p. 10. Policeman Foils Try to Land Liquor Cargo. (1930, July 24). The Jersey Journal [Jersey City], p. 16. "Decorated" Three Seamen Held For Beating Police "Chief". (1934, April 23). The Jersey Journal [Jersey City], p. 17. Patrolman Gould, Shadyside's "King" Dies From a Fall. (1936, February 1). The Jersey Journal [Jersey City], p. 4. Dozens of Units Planned off River Road in North Bergen. (2019, February 5). https://jerseydigs.com/development-proposed-9001-river-road-north-bergen/