In the 17th. century, before the arrival of colonists, the Lenape Indians of the Hackensack nation, roamed the shores of the Hudson River and the cliffs above. With the arrival of Dutch settlers, after the discovery of the New World, by Henry Hudson, the settlements all along the Hudson River started springing up. The first Edgewater settlement known as Vriessendael in 1640 is marked by a plaque in Veteran's Field, and its formation was was the first known colony in Bergen County. River Road was originally Hackensack Turnpike and the only route to the west and the top of the Palisades was Oxen Hill Road, which today is barely any wider than it was centuries ago. Originally, settlers in the area were fisherman, and its major industry of the time was shad fishing. In the 1980's there were still about 100 commercial fisherman in New Jersey harvesting shad from their annual spring run from the Atlantic Ocean to their spawning grounds up river. Today there are none.
Ferry service started between New York and Edgewater in 1758 by Etienne Burdette from his home at Burdettes Landing, in the Edgewater Colony, that stood until 1899. The ferry service at Burdett's Landing proved valuable to the Revolutionary war cause as it enabled troops, supplies, food and arms to be transported from the New York side to the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. In the century following the War of Independence, Edgewater became a resort area for wealthy New Yorkers looking for a more peaceful and idealic lifestyle and much of the resort was in the area that is now The Edgewater Colony. Like its neighbor to the north Englewood Cliffs the land beneath the Palisades, became prolific for it quantity of bluestone rock used for the construction of cobblestone street paving. The cliffs became a major mining site until the development of the Palisades Interstate Park, that prohibited the further mining of any land within the park boundaries.
The 20th. century brought the advent of industrialization to the town and soon the 3 miles of Edgewater became overwhelmed, as numerous factories came to the town, when the New York, Susquehanna, and Western Railway cut through the Palisades Cliffs at the Edgewater Tunnel (now defunct) and transformed this quiet fishing village into a huge industrialized factory center. As industrialization increased the resorts gave way and soon faded into distant memory. Most of the factories remained in the southern end of the town and included Alcoa Aluminum, Honeywell, Ford Motor Company, Lever Brothers, Archer Daniels-Midland, Hills Brothers, and others. The increase in industry led to a huge increase in the town population and the transient workforce quickly grew by tenfold. Railroad tracks, and piers along the waterfront enabled the factories to ship their goods around the country and Edgewater like its neighbors of Hoboken, and Jersey City to the south prospered. Unfortunately, after World War 2, industries found cheaper labor and land in more remote parts of the country as trucking became easier with the advent of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950's.
With the demise of the factories Edgewater lay dormant for a 25 year stretch until developers started purchasing up waterfront property with the recognition that the decaying waterfront would soon be transformed into a vibrant residential community featuring mid-rise and high rise developments up and down its 3 mile stretch of land. By the 1980's, the once waterfront industrialized community was transformed and gentrified into a booming waterfront residential community. Edgewater's growth from the sleepy little town in the shadow of the George Washing Bridge had emerged. Most Edgewater residents reside in the various condominium and rental complexes that dot the waterfront landscape from just south of the Fort Lee Historic Park, south to Edgewater Harbor, the newest shopping addition to the growing Edgewater community. With the buildup of the town the demographics changed considerably with the newcomers moving east of River Road, along the waterfront, and the original residents living in single family homes along Undercliff Ave and the streets running east and west between River Rd. and Undercliff Ave. The last of the existing factories The Alcoa Plant, is presently being redeveloped that includes safety measures to clean up the site. The old factory town that included such notable manufacturers as Ford Motor Assembly, on the now Independence Harbor site, Hills Bros, Unilever, Octagon, and numerous others have given way to the multitude of waterfront condominium residences. Many of these communities from Vela Townhomes on the north to Admiral's Walk, Shelter Bay, Grand Cove, Independence Harbor, City Place and The Pearl on the south are built directly on the Hudson River Walkway, a continuous riverfront walking and strolling promenade thats intention is for an almost continuous walking area from the George Washington Bridge to The Lincoln Tunnel. Parts of the walkway are still not completed and other parts are grandfathered. Yet the overall effect is a warm, inviting community
Its numerous shopping opportunities that include Whole Foods shopping area, Trader Joes, Mitsua Asian Market, and Edgewater Commons with its Pathmark Supermarket as well as Target, Michaels, TJ Max, Staples, City Place Shopping Mall, with its luxury high end retail stores, and the latest shopping addition, Edgewater Commons. So many restaurants including The world famous River Palm Garden, Le Jardin, Flemings Steakhouse, Baumgarts, The Haven, and a multitude of various cuisines from around the world make Edgewater a destination eating focal point in New Jersey. With so many commuters working in New York City the mayor and council voted in 2002 to return ferry service to Edgewater. The 12 minute ferry ride from the Edgewater Marina to the West Midtown Ferry Terminal on 38th. St. in NYC run by New York Waterways presently operates as a commuter ferry with operating hours Monday through Friday in morning and evening rush hours. The 158 bus runs continually through the day to the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal.
With the addition of City Place in 2002, luxury retail stores, that 10 years earlier were not even dreamed about, proliferated, and included, name brand stores as The Limited, Express, Banana Republic, Anthropology, and the brand new shopping at Edgewater Harbor with Home Goods, makes visitors flock to the town for their shopping needs.
Newer development have sprung up including One Hudson Park, Aventine, The Pearl and the townhome complexes of Vela and The Moorings. Each one has driven up price points from the earlier developments and as such, the Edgewater school system needed to expand its elementary school, with the opening of the brand new George Washington School in the spring of 2013. The new shopping, the restaurant choices and the new school have brought in an influx of younger buyers from New York City and the more urban towns of Jersey City and Hoboken for the Edgewater lifestyle.
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Population change since 7,677: 1995%
Zip code: 07020
Median Family income: $101,881 in 2012
Median House Value: $519,525
Land area: 2.421 sq. miles square miles
Population Density: 12,312 per square. mile people/sq mi
Public elementary / middle schools in Edgewater: 2
Edgewater Town Website: CLICK HERE
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