Traveling Facilities - Country Roads
The first ferry legally established on
the North River connecting the New Jersey shore with that of
Manhattan Island, was the Communipaw ferry which was erected in
1661 at the foot of Communipaw Avenue, Jersey City, with William
Jansen in charge.1
The increase in population along Bergen
Neck in 1750 was thought to warrant the erection of a public
ferry between Bergen Point and Staten Island, so on September 15
of that year, Jacob Corsen established a ferry which landed
within a short distance of the present slip on this side. The
boat was a small open scow, and was propelled by oars.
On June 18, 1764, the Jersey City ferry
was established.2 It was started as
an important part of the new stage route to Philadelphia via a
road connecting Jersey City and Bergen Point.
The following notice appeared at that
time in the New York "Mercury" under date of July 2, 1764:
"A Ferry is established and kept across
the Kill von Kull and that boats constantly attend for that
Purpose, at a Place belonging to John Beck, and commonly called
Mooddses, situate near the Dutch Church on Staten Island, from
whence Passengers are transported directly across to Bergen
Point, from which place there is a five mile Road leading
directly to the said Powless's Hook; so that a short, safe, easy
and convenient way is fixed by Means of these two Ferries, for
all Travelers passing to the City of New York, from any of the
These stages were first "set up'3 in
1764 and did a thriving business. The vehicle was a covered
Jersey wagon without springs. Three days were usually consumed
in dragging it to Philadelphia, and it was modestly called a
"Flying Machine." In 1772, however, time was reduced to one and
Anthony White, who owned the land where
the Latourette House now stands, petitioned the Governor of New
York in July, 1764, for exclusive right to ferry across the
"Kill van Corle."* The petition was not granted. In 1765,
Michael Van Tuyl was the proprietor of the ferry.4
The travel to the south was afterwards
turned to a new route made over the meadows on the line of the
Newark Plank Road. This caused the Bergen Point ferry to
gradually decline and soon suspend operation.
In more recent years, John Goodheart,
who lived on the shore, ferried people across in a skiff for a
considerable time. Nicholas Cubberly also conveyed passengers
over whenever requested. A horse boat was plying on it between
1840 and 1850.
About 1863 a slip was built at the foot
of Avenue C, on the Kills, and a boat put upon the ferry. It
continued in operation for a few months, and was then destroyed
In March, 1868, "The Bergen Point and
Staten Island Ferry Co." was incorporated, but never gave sign
of much life. Walter H. Frazer attempted to revive it in 1869,
but after two weeks' experience, he abandoned the idea. After a
few years traffic was greater and it began to boom. "The Port
Richmond and Bergen Point Ferry Co." took hold of it, and now
the Public Service Corporation has obtained control and has
recently made considerable improvements.
It is not known at what time the first
road from Bergen to Bergen Point was laid. Some time previous to
1743 a King's Highway was laid from Bergen Town to Bergen Point
along Newark Bay. This road was very sandy and ran partly
through a swamp. It was vacated when, on October 10, 1764, a
King's Highway was laid from Hendrick Sickle's barn to a point
opposite the Dutch church on Staten Island. This new road became
a part of the great stage route between New York and
Philadelphia. Evidently, this road was not constructed in such a
manner as to meet the requirements of travel, for on September
12, 1766, a road four rods wide was laid from "the Southwest
Point of Bergen (Bergen Point) aforesaid along up Newark Bay,"
and from thence over to Paulus Hoeck.5
This new road ran along the west side of
Bayonne about three hundred yards from the Newark Bay shore,
through the picnic grounds in Pamrapo, where it joined the old
King's Highway. It was commonly called the "Shore Road," and was
the main road to these parts for about thirty years. A portion
of it can still be seen.
On June 29, 1796, another road was laid
to Bergen Point. It entered Bayonne at the junction of what is
now Avenue C and the Morris Canal,6
went west, and then through the woods between the present
Speedway and Avenue C, thence southward to what is now Avenue D
and Thirty-second Street, and from there in a direct line to the
Point. It was a familiar sight to see the old Vanderbilt stage
coach, surrounded by a cloud of dust, jogging along on its way
to Staten Island.
A half century ago, Avenue D was simply
a miry country road. The old plank sidewalks were little better
than the road, and the folks had to wade ankle deep through the
mud. Cow-hide boots were a necessity. Teams were drawn with
difficulty and when stuck hub deep in the mud were hauled out by
extra oxen. The Plank Road Company was afterward formed (about
1856) and constructed a plank road running over the old middle
road laid sixty years before. This road was one-half planks and
one-half dirt, and toll was collected for travel thereon. One
toll-gate stood on the site of Fifty-second Street.
At this time Fifth and Eighth Streets
were mere cowpaths. Grand Street was called "Niggers' Lane." The
old Hook Road leading to Constable's Hook was at times entirely
submerged by water from the Kill and New York Bay, and it was a
difficult matter, if not a dangerous undertaking, to cross.
The first public means of conveyance to
Jersey City was a two-horse stage operated by George Anderson,
early as 1848-50. This started at what is now Twenty-fifth
Street. Anderson brought the mail from Jersey City to Mullaney's
post-office in Pamrapo.7
In later years, the only public
conveyance to Jersey City and New York was Jacob Mersallie's
stage line, or by boat from Bergen Point. The "Red Jacket,"
"Kills" and "Wyoming" landed at a dock then situated at the foot
of Avenue D, to take on passengers for New York. The ride on the
stage was rather long and tiresome, and a bleak one in winter.
In the summer, however, it was most delightful, especially along
the old Plank Road, which wound around through the woods most of
The Jersey City and Bergen Railroad
Company was incorporated March 15, 1859. The Greenville and
Ocean Avenue line terminated at the old car barns in Greenville
later on. By an ordinance passed in August, 1885, the company
was authorized by the City of Bayonne to "lay tracks in certain
streets and avenues and to run horse cars thereon only." The
franchise also granted the laying of tracks for a branch line on
East Twenty-second Street. The main line extended up Avenue C
over its present route to the Kill von Kull. The cars were
small, were pulled by mules, and were in charge of one man, who
acted as both driver and conductor. These cars were called "dinkeys."
A slight improvement was added by the use of horses in place of
the slow, stubborn mules. However, it took about two hours to
travel from ferry to ferry. In 1888, the Fifth Street line was
The Central R. R. of N. J. for many
years terminated at Elizabethport. In 1860 an act was passed
authorizing the company to build a bridge to Bergen Point and to
extend the road to Jersey City.
This extension was completed and opened
for travel August 1, 1864. Eighth Street, the main station, was
erected, that locality being the most populated section at the
The Dummy Road was built about 1864.
This road began just west of the Latourette House at Bergen
Point, and ran through private property between Avenues C and D
to where Garrett's Hotel now is, at Thirty-second Street, where
it crossed the old Plank Road and continued north, close to what
is now Avenue D, thence to the Junction in Greenville. Here
passengers for Jersey City and New York would have to change for
the horse car to convey them to the ferry. The Dummy was one
car, with the engine at one end of it. The time of travel was
from one and one-half to five hours one way, according to how
the engine felt. The fare was twenty-five cents.
In the "Evening Journal" under date of
Friday, March 26, 1869, the writer finds this: "The complaints
of the dummy travel continue. Yesterday the dummy, in charge of
Mr. Whiteneck, broke down in multitudinous localities.
Passengers were obliged to walk in considerable mud."
This road was not a success, and ceased
operations in 1870. The old barns may yet be seen at Bergen
A franchise authorizing the Jersey City and Bergen Railroad
Company to use electric motors as the propelling power of its
cars, and to erect poles and string the necessary wires there
from, was granted August 16, 1893. After this the horse car was
abandoned by the establishment of the trolley system, the
traffic on which steadily increased and the road improved upon
considerably to meet the requirements.
At a meeting of the Common Council, held
on July 1, 1902, the North Jersey Railroad Company (who at that
time controlled the trolley system) filed a petition for a
franchise to operate a trolley line on Avenues A and B and to
transfer its system from Avenue C to Avenue D. The granting of
these privileges, while meeting with favor by the Board of Trade
and most business men, was for some reason never acted upon, and
the petition was finally withdrawn.
The trolley service has been under control of the Consolidated
Traction Company, North Jersey Street Railway Company, and at
present is under control of the Public Service Corporation. The
trolley service to-day shows a marked improvement over ten years
ago. Large, modern cars are run under five-minute head-way.
The Central Railroad now has five
stations, and trains are frequent for the accommodation of
Winfield's History of Hudson County.
2. Dunlap's History of New
3. New York Colonial MSS.
4. Winfield's History of
5. Winfield*s History of
6. The stone supports of an
old bridge at this place mark the site of this road. A section
of it running from Forty-seventh to Fifty-first Streets is still
7. Mullaney's store is
still standing on the old Plank Road at Centre Street.
Source: First History of Bayonne, New
Jersey, by Royden Page Whitcomb, Published by R. P. Whitcomb, 24
East 37TH Street, Bayonne, N. J., 1904.