The New International Encyclopædia/Jersey City
JERSEY CITY. The second largest city of New Jersey, and county-seat of Hudson County; an important railroad point, and a commercial and manufacturing centre (Map: New Jersey, D 2). It is on the peninsula formed by the Hudson River on the east and the Hackensack River and Newark Bay on the west, and is opposite New York City, of which it is a suburb, connected by steam ferries. The Morris Canal has its eastern terminus in the city. The Central of New Jersey, the Erie, the Pennsylvania, and the West Shore railroads, whose depots are used by a number of other roads, also terminate here. The steamers of several transatlantic steamship companies sail from this port.
The city occupies an area of 12,228 acres, and includes six small parks which comprise about twenty acres. It has good electric railway service, the lines connecting with Newark, the Oranges, Rutherford, Passaic, Paterson, and towns in Bergen County. There are very few unpaved streets in Jersey City. Grand Street, in the heart of the city, and some of the avenues on the hill section back of the main portion are noteworthy for beautiful residences. In the outer limits of the city is the magnificent Hudson County Boulevard, which extends through the entire length of Hudson County, 14 miles, and five miles into Bergen County. It is 100 feet wide, and commands a grand view of varied scenery. Among the more prominent buildings are the city hall, with a soldiers' and sailors' monument; the Fourth Regiment Armory; several new public schools; Saint Francis, Christ, and city hospitals; the public library, containing over 100,000 volumes; and an historical museum, in which are preserved many colonial documents of interest. Hasbrouck Institute, founded in 1856, which now has nearly 400 students, and Saint Peter's College (Roman Catholic), opened in 1878 and at present attended by about 250 students, are well-known institutions of learning. Besides ten parochial schools, which provide for 10,000 pupils, there are in the city 27 public schools with accommodations for 30,000 pupils and having a property valuation of $2,500,000. The average cost of education per pupil has been found to be about $22 annually. There are several convents and a full equipment of asylums, homes, and other charitable institutions.
Jersey City is almost inclosed by water, thus affording excellent docking facilities, which, with its railroad connections, have aided its development as a shipping and receiving point, though officially it has no identity as a separate port, since its returns are included in those of the customs district of New York. It has also large slaughtering and meat-packing interests and extensive manufactures. The Pennsylvania and Erie railroads have large grain-elevators here, and there are plants of the American Sugar Refining Company and the Lorillard Tobacco factories, which rank with the largest. Among the products of the industrial establishments are soaps and perfumes, candles, crucibles, lead pencils, patent iron dump-carts, compressed gas, glass, locomotives, railroad cars, iron and steel, zinc, copper, boilers, planing-mill, foundry and machine-shop products, chemicals, paints, oakum, jewelry, and pottery.
The government of Jersey City is administered by a mayor, chosen every two years; a unicameral council, elected two from each ward and one at large; and the usual administrative officials, most of whom are appointed by the executive, the city clerk being elected by the board of aldermen, while the street and water board, which controls the appointments of water assessor and water registrar, is chosen by popular election. The board of education consists of 25 members, two from each city ward and one at large, appointed by the executive. The municipal budget balances at nearly $8,000,000, the principal items of expenditure being: $460,000 for schools; $375,000 for the police department, including jails; $370,000 for the water-works; $360,000 for the care of streets, including street lighting and cleaning, and garbage removal; and $215,000 for the fire department.
Population, in 1850, 6856; in 1860, 29,226; in 1870, 82,546; in 1880, 120,722; in 1890, 163,003; in 1900, 206,433, including 58,400 persons of foreign birth and 3700 of negro descent.
In 1638 Abraham Isaacson Planck, a Dutchman, bought the land on which Jersey City stands. Later it passed into the hands of another Dutchman, Michael Pauw, and from him the old name Paulus Hoeck, or Hook, was derived. In 1776 fortifications were thrown up here by the Americans, but were captured later in the year (September) by the British. On August 19, 1779, Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Lee, ‘Light Horse Harry,’ with about 200 men, surprised the English garrison, and, with a loss of only two killed and three wounded, secured 159 prisoners, partially destroyed the works, and returned in safety. The exploit is regarded as one of the most brilliant feats of the Revolution. The British retook the place, and remained in possession until the close of the war. In 1804 a town was laid out here and was incorporated as the ‘City of Jersey.’ In 1820 it was reincorporated, this time as Jersey City, but did not become a distinct municipality until 1838. Bergen and Hudson were annexed in 1869, and Greenville in 1873, and a new charter was secured in 1889. Consult: McLean, History of Jersey City (Jersey City, 1895); Eaton, Jersey City and Its Historic Sites (Jersey City, 1899); and an article, “The Capture of Paulus Hook,” in The Historical Magazine, vol. iv., 2d series (New York).