On June 6, 1933 the first drive-in ever was opened in Camden by Richard Hollingshead, an auto-parts salesman for 25 cents per car. He was on a mission to see how many more activities could be done in vehicles. His experiment consisted of sticking his mother in a car and putting a projector on the hood and tying two sheets to trees in his yard. He then created a ramp system for cars to park at different heights so everyone could see the screen and patented his concept in May 1933 before putting it to business the next month with an investment of $30,000. When in-car speakers came out in the 1940s, the idea took off . Hollingshead kept the theater in Camden for only two years. In 1935, he sold the theater property and opened a drive-in in Union.
The drive-in's peak popularity came in the late 1950s and early 1960s, with 4,000 drive-ins spread across the United States. At one time there were almost 50 drive-in movie venues in New Jersey. Unfortunately the price of land became the downfall for the industry.
In the 1940’s, a new drive-in, operated by Redstone Theatres opened near the Newark airport, with a capacity for 2,500 cars becoming the fourth largest drive-in in the United States. For one low price of as many people as you could squeeze in one car, you could take the whole family for a double feature movie at the Newark Drive-In. The drive in also had a concession stand with fast food service where many people socialized before the start of the show and during the Intermission.. When intermission came around which usually ran around 20 minutes between feature films, the screen was filled with snack commercials, the concession stand menu, previews of coming attractions, and another cartoon. It became a outing people looked forward too. For the teenager it had an even greater appeal other than the actual movie. It offered teens a place to meet and hang out and away from their parents especially with boyfriends or girlfriends.
Unfortunately the Newark Drive-In closed in 1991 due to declining patronage and the rerouting of Route 1&9. In 1992, National Amusements built and opened a large indoor multiplex theater, the All Jersey Multiplex Cinemas on the site. This was a common occurrence for many drive-in sites which closed.
Eventually the theatre went out of business as well and fell into disrepair.
It was demolished in March 2014.
Today, fewer than 500 drive-in theaters survive in the United States and all that remains of the Newark multiplex is the signage.
On Main Street between Stiger and Bergen in Hackettstown now stands a CVS; the result of a long debate of what would become of the old Bergen Machine & Tool Co. which stood before it.
The story of the factory on Main begins with a company called American Sawmill Machinery which was founded in 1903. In their heyday they were the largest makers of circular sawmills in the country. The company is often confused with being an actual saw mill when in fact they manufactured sawmills for lumber businesses.
“During the 1950s the company used another name, American Woodworking Machinery Co., for marketing, presumably to de-emphasize their sawmill roots. This name should not be confused with the earlier, and larger, American Wood Working Machinery Co. The former name is associated with Hackettstown, NJ, and was used in the 1950s and possibly the early 1960s. The latter name is associated with Rochester, NY and Williamsport, PA (among others), and was active between 1897 and 1925.”
An example of a machine made by them can be found here.
In 1955, a new player was in town, the Bergen Machine & Tool factory. They moved the manufacturing part of their company to Hackettstown on the old Sawmill site and kept the sales office and warehouse on Franklin Avenue in Nutley.
The company left New Jersey for Mountain Top, Pa., in 2003 and the building sat vacant.
In 2011, a broken water line that soaked and weakened support beams led to a portion of Bergen Tool building collapsing. After that the building began to suffer from vandalism and neglect.
In June of 2011 a new owner bought the building for $1.1 million who proposed demolition as the dilapidated building was beyond rehabilitation.
Residents fought against demolition of the front building stating historical significance, but eventually the brick building came down.
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.
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Located on Pine Island Turnpike in the western part of Warwick is Edenville, which was once named Postville in honor of Colonel Jacobus Post, one of its pioneer settlers. The hamlet which is located near Mounts Adam and Eve was known for its beauty and fertile lands and thus the land became known as “Edenville”. Mineral deposits of granite, syenite, granular quartz, hornblende, arsenical iron, and white limestone were found in Mts. Adam and Eve and many predicted the growth of Edenville would soon follow. Soon the railroads came and passed through the neighboring towns on either side, and Edenville was left to its primitive means of transportation. The Orange County Granite Company and the Empire State Granite Company found the quality of the granite to be superior but due to lack of transportation the output suffered.
A old general store still in use.
The stone block home in the center of town is a private residence that was built by Dr. James P. Young, one of Warwick’s early physicians in 1816. The house has a separate side entrance which led to the public office area and upstairs medical storage and infirmary space. The current owners purchased the house in 1985.
James Young was born on Oct. 19, 1791. He arrived in Warwick from parts unknown, apparently at the invitation of Dr. Joseph Houston. The Houston homestead still stands next door. He built a new stone house on adjacent property and it was there that Dr. Young brought his bride Harriet, Dr. Houston's daughter. There he practiced medicine, studied local geology, and became a prominent member of the surrounding community. His civic and professional roles included: Warwick School Commissioner , elected to the Orange County Medical Society in 1814, Censor and Treasurer of the Society, and instructor of other physicians such as Dr. John L. Foster and Dr. Samuel Holly. He presented two papers to the Orange County Medical Society, titled "Sleep" (1815) and "Scientific Botany" (1833) . In addition to these activities he was an avid geologist, and one of his projects included mapping the geology of the area with Dr. J. Heron. He would have been acquainted with many of the prominent political figures of his time. He treated Aaron Burr at least twice, as shown in the list of articles in his possession at the time of his death filed at the Orange County Clerk’s office. He was one of the citizens active in renaming the hamlet of Postville as Edenville. His son Dr. Silas Young was also a geologist, and his valuable mineral collection, perhaps partly his father’s work, was sold to the New York State Museum in 1914. Among Dr. James Young's work is one of the first maps of Warwick's geological heritage.
The Edenville Country Store closed in 1987.
At 29 Edenville Road is the Nanny House built in 1870.
The Edenville Church has been turned into a private residence.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Gonzalez is a photographer, blogger and historian currently residing in Newark, New Jersey.