Perth Amboy was founded in 1683 and today is 4.7 square miles in size. It served as a capital of the Province of New Jersey from 1686 until 1776. In 1684, Perth Amboy became the capital of East Jersey and remained the capital until the union of East and West Jersey in 1702. It, then, became an alternate colonial capital with Burlington until 1776. Being situated on the waterfront, it has a long maritime and fishing history, and was also big during the Industrial Revolution. It played a major part on New Jersey history as immigrants flocked to fill the factory jobs and to avoid strict immigration inspection laws of New York. With the coming of the railroad also came major growth. It was the tidewater terminal for the Lehigh Valley Railroad and a coal shipping point. It was once home to one of the largest and oldest Jewish communities in the state, but since the 1950’s an exodus of the Jewish population occurred.
I visited Perth Amboy over the course of a few days in the early days of the summer, each day taking in a different part of this historic city with its rich history. Being that it's a fairly large city, I've decided to break it up into sections and with this walk I'm focusing on the waterfront surrounding the city and the historic area near City Hall.
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Dutch traders first settled in Passaic in 1678 with the founding of a fur-trading post. After the river was dammed, industrial growth blossomed. Some of the most successful mills of New Jersey were built in Passaic. Many of them were German worsted mills. The town used to be full of European immigrants, which had come to fill the factories. In the 1970's came deindustrialization, which was pretty much the downfall of many American cities. Passaic would prove no better. The industrial section of the city of Passaic known as the lower Dundee, the east side neighborhood that runs along the bank of the Passaic, is filled with ruins of the cities legacy as an industrial powerhouse. I made my way down to the area to walk the streets where 15,000 woolen mill workers fought for the rights of workers in the Passaic textile Strike of 1926.
Built in the 1880's near the Canal was the Pantasote Leather Company, which produced imitation leather. Pantasote is an imitation leather material made by the Pantasote Company, beginning in 1891. It was a durable, relatively inexpensive material used as upholstery and fabrics used on trains, for tents, and awnings. The factory was abandoned in 1993 and was the site of illegal toxic waste dumping.
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Frederick G. Bourne was President of the Singer Manufacturing Company between 1889 and 1905. Indian Neck Hall was his country residence and reputed to have been the largest estate on Long Island when it was built in 1897. The Georgian-style home was designed by noted architect, Ernest Flagg. In 1926, the property was sold and became La Salle Military Academy. St. John's University acquired the property in 2001 and offers a number of its graduate degree programs from the Oakdale campus.
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The Meadowlands is a large ecosystem of wetlands in northeastern New Jersey. The 20,000 acres of wetlands was once home to hundreds of species of plants and animals. The region was formed by the Wisconsin Glacier which was the most recent major advance of the North American ice sheet complex happened about 20 thousand years ago. The glacier stretched all the way to Perth Amboy. When the ice sheet began to melt and retreat, it gouged out the area between what is now the Palisades and the ridge along Schuyler Avenue. It also formed a deep freshwater lake now known as Glacial Lake Hackensack. This, in turn, formed a large swamp.
The area of the Meadowlands includes portions of Kearny, Jersey City, North Arlington, Secaucus, Lyndhurst, Rutherford, East Rutherford, Carlstadt, North Bergen, Moonachie, Ridgefield, Ridgefield Park, and Little Ferry. The history of the Meadowlands is filled with Landfills, (no pun intended), pig farms, abandoned rails, and marshy polluted swampland.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Gonzalez is a photographer, blogger and historian currently residing in Newark, New Jersey.