“Friends of Moonachie“
70 Moonachie Road
Moonachie, NJ 07074
In 1669, Moonachie was owned by just one man; Captain John Berry, a fur trader. It was the island of Moonachie back then bordered by Berry’s Creek, Indian Path, Losing Creek and the Hackensack River. Indians of the Six Nations Branch inhabited the rich cedar forests. Rumors say that Indian Chief Monaghie gave the town its name. Captain Berry later sold Moonachie to T. Fransen Outwater, Henrik DeKyp and George Brinkerhoff. (the Brinkerhoff house is now the Wood-Ridge Library. During the American Revolution, Moonachie was part of the Township of Bergen. Local farmers shipped their products along the Hackensack River to markets in New York. They were a self-supporting group, isolated by the marshes from the other communities. When the British invaded Bergen County in November, 1776, Moonachie was on their map. One small group of British soldiers were left to guard a horse drawn ferry in Little Ferry. When Washington’s army was evacuating the area, a detachment crossed at Little Ferry and marched up Washington Avenue to Liberty Street (an extension of Moonachie Road), on its way to Hackensack. Moonachie’s main role, during the revolution, was helping to feed the army. This was not an easy task, as the Hessians camping nearby terrorized the settlers. In 1825, the Township of Lodi was organized and Moonachie became part of it. At first, no education was offered in Moonachie. Well-to-do families sent their children away to boarding school. In 1830, under Lodi Township, Moonachie opened its first school, in the kitchen of Peter Allen, which was later known as the Blauvelt Estate off Moonachie Road. And finally in 1832, the first school house was erected on Moonachie Road south of Mousetown Road and served for 40 years. Early in the 1870’s a new school was built seating 50 students, but later converted into a private home. In 1897, another school was built on the corner of Union Street and Moonachie Avenue. In 1898, the last school to be built under the auspices of Lodi Township was erected on Redneck Avenue. On April 11, 1910, Moonachie was finally incorporated as a borough. That same year, the Board of Education and the Moonachie Fire Company were organized. Town life in Moonachie, during these days, was centered around family, farms and the church. Robert L. Craig became the first Mayor. The first council, with a budget of $1900.00, set about organizing town government. Roads and paths, ignored for years, were paved and lights appeared, for the first time on borough roads. On June 10, 1910, the Board of Education now organized, built School Number 2 for $3,000.00 in 1913 and at the same time began work on School Number 3 on Joseph Street. There were about fifteen farms in 1910 and Moonachie had two churches. The Presbyterians had a Sunday School Mission, founded by Reverend F .H. Kohler, in 1904. The Catholics held their services in Saint Anthony’s Church, built by the parishioners in the early 1900’s. Residents usually found their recreation at Penna’s Hotel which was located where the Teterboro School of Aeronautics now stands. The hotel was on an island and rowboats sailed around it. Bit by bit, house by house, road by road, the Borough grew. Between 1914 and 1916, Mr. Ernest Bruno built the first homes in Washington Park section. The 1920’s proved to be a difficult time for Moonachie. The Mayor and Council tried to attract industry, but they couldn’t give the land away. Ads were placed in New York newspapers offering land for free. The businessmen at the time demanded that a factory also be included along with the free land. In 1924, Moonachie’s first official Police Department was formed. Policemen worked full-time hours for a token salary, supplied their own transportation and ran dances to pay for their badges, guns and uniforms. During the depression, troubles appeared. Teachers had to be paid with IOU’s and famers lost their homes in tax sales. The Borough was poorer than ever and progress slowed down, with the exception of Moonachie acquiring its first official police car, beginning of private garbage collection and the first park.
The war came, and by its end took the lives of five Moonachie boys who later would be honored by the Borough, in having streets named after them. After World War II the post-war prosperity brought progress back to Moonachie once again. In 1947, the first Ambulance Corps was founded and Moonachie welcomed the arrival of mobile homes to its community. Rogers Trailer Park and Metropolitan Trailer Court were started, both are still located on Moonachie Avenue today. In 1949, the Port of New York Authority sounded its powerful voice and stepped in to make drastic changes in the town’s history. One hundred three property owners were dispossessed, homes abandoned, streets became only paths, farms that were once fruitful became barren. The drop in population, due to the Port Authority’s intrusion, was slight and short-lived. The 1950’s brought the Panorama City development, adding 193 new homes, improvements came rapidly. Roads were improved, parks were added, the first Municipal building was dedicated on Moonachie Road in 1954 and transportation to New York City became available to residents. The Robert L. Craig School was opened in 1955 and some streets made their first appearance above water when the pumping station came into operation. During the “fabulous fifties” several institutions were organized; the Panoramic Civic j Association was founded, Brownies and Girl Scouts were organized in 1957 along with the Cub Scouts. The Moonachie Metros became a part of the Babe Ruth League in 1956 joined by the Little League adopting the Redneck Avenue Ballfield as its home. During and after the 1960’s, Moonachie began to change from a community of farmers, homeowners, mobile homes and airport to an industrial one. The industrial “boom” in New Jersey was the result of urban companies desiring expansion and lower taxes. Large tracts of land were used to build industrial complexes and shopping centers, along with industry and discount outlets that dot the community the residents and laborers can now find restaurants to tempt the palate from fast food to gourmet. In 1972 Moonachie became a part of the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission. After the industrial development, emphasis was placed on residential improvement. Glancing around the Borough, you will notice the latest additions to our civic organizations. Moonachie has added to its playground, handball, tennis, bocce and basketball courts and the Moonachie Senior Citizens Club is one of the most active civic groups in the Borough. In 1963 sanitary sewers were installed replacing the old cesspools and septic systems that posed a serious threat to the health of our residents. The Volunteer First Aid and Rescue Squad built a new building, on Moonachie Road, to house their ambulance and emergency equipment, serving both industry and residents. The school system is now housed in one complex which began with the seven room Robert L. Craig School in 1955. Now after 96 years of incorporation, we can proudly recall those who have offered their services past and present. The Moonachie of today is entirely different from what had been established so long ago. The dirt trails have disappeared and the rutted path known as Mousetown Road is broad Moonachie Avenue. The forests are gone and Moonachie is no longer an island but an important link of Southern and Northern Bergen County. The brickyards, our first industry, no longer exists, but in its place are many modern industrial buildings. The population has increased. The first municipal budget of $1900.00 could not cover the cost of running the Borough for one day. Moonachie is young in years of incorporation, but has been an important factor in the development of our nation. The residents are proud of their heritage and community spirit, accepting changes and working in harmony. Moonachie’s warmth and color still have older residents longing for the “good old days.”
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