American History and Genealogy Project


Bayonne Today

A Glimpse of the City as It is Today

Bayonne City, now in its thirty-fifth year of existence as a city, is no longer a young", struggling suburban community with three thousand inhabitants. It has developed into a full-grown and vigorous city with a population of forty-one thousand souls, and a city of which the State of New Jersey has reason to feel proud.

Today it has a good and efficient Volunteer Fire Department, consisting of six steam engines, two hook and ladder trucks, and two hose companies, averaging about sixty men each. The Department is recognized by the New York underwriters to be one of the best volunteer forces in the vicinity of New York.

The Post Office Department has eighteen mail carriers, and three deliveries are made in the business sections.

The city is well policed. The Police Department consists of fifty men, all told. This includes a chief, two captains, six sergeants, three detectives, four roundsmen, thirty-three patrolmen and one van driver. A new police signal system has recently been installed, and a separate building for Police Headquarters is in course of erection.

The school system has improved considerably. There are eight schools, one high school and one evening school, as well as five annexes and several parochial and private schools.

There is one hospital, which has an ambulance to answer calls for aid to the injured. Both electric and gas lights illuminate the streets. Most of the streets have been flagged and curbed, some macadamized and asphalted. A complete system of sewers has been established. Splendid drinking water is obtained from the Passaic River above Little Falls, where it is free from pollution. There are three banking and trust companies, three building and loan associations, two daily and two weekly newspapers, one hundred secret, benevolent and miscellaneous societies, twenty-six churches, a public park being laid out, and a $50,000 Carnegie Library just completed. Monthly rents average from $15 to $50.

Average sale price of improved property is from $2,000 up. Building lots per front foot, $7 to $30. The death rate is unusually low, being 17 per 1,000.

Bayonne has enjoyed for years the enviable reputation of being foremost among the cities of New Jersey from an industrial standpoint. There are, at the present time, about 235 manufacturing establishments, the product from which is valued upward of $40,000,000. Many of the greatest industries in the world are located here. The plant of the Standard Oil Company and the Tide Water Oil Company, known the world over, employ about 3,000 men, and have facilities for a daily output of 40,000 barrels of refined oil.1 The Babcock & Wilcox Tubular Boiler Company, which is the most extensive and complete plant of its kind in the world, provides employment for 1,500 men. There is also the Orford Copper Works, the Pacific Coast Borax Works, Guffey Petroleum Company, Columbia Oil Company, Goubert Manufacturing Company, Electric Launch Company, Bayonne Chemical Works, Schwartzenback, Huber & Company's Silk Mills, Port Johnston Coal Docks, International Tin Company, Safety Insulated Wire and Cable Company, and other industries. This, of course, makes the city an important shipping point. Large steamship and sailing vessels load daily at Constable's Hook, Port Johnston and Bergen Point, carrying petroleum, oil, copper, ore, sulphur, coal and various other products to all parts of the globe. Railroad transportation is also carried on extensively.

The tallest chimney in America and second tallest in the world is located on Constable's Hook. This was erected two or three years ago, at a height of 365 feet.

The increase in population has been far greater than most cities in the State. This is due, principally, to the fact that the large industries are the means for the employment of thousands of men.

The city is cosmopolitan, especially in the Centerville and Hook districts. In these localities about 85 per cent, of the population is of foreign elements, coming from all corners of the earth, including Germany, Russia, Italy, Poland, Ireland, England, Sweden and Austria.2 While some are of an objectionable class, taken as a whole they are an industrious, hard-working people, and have been the means of building up a thriving business section in these localities.

In the better residential sections, many of the people own their homes; others rent cottages or Chicago flats at $18 and up-ward.3 In these districts, a large percentage of the men have their business in the great metropolis close at hand, and trains and trolleys run frequently to accommodate them.

Avenue D is the center for trade. The following estimated list will give the reader an idea of the number of stores in the principal lines of business:

Butchers 64 Carpenters and builders. . 31
Grocers 174
Plumbers 22
Bakers 16
Painters 32
Drygoods 44
Undertakers 7
Milk dealers 24
Expresses 19
Saloons 150
Variety stores 62
Tailors 27
Barbers 47
Druggists 14
Laundries 23
Boot and shoe dealers, including makers 64
Furniture dealers 8

Among the professional men there are 18 lawyers and 22 doctors.

The area of the city is 2,530 acres, or 4 1/10 square miles; besides 1,240 acres of submerged property. It is 3¾ miles in length, and averages three-fourths mile wide.

Salaries of Principal City Officials.

Mayor4 $2,500
Councilmen No salary
City Treasurer 2,500
City Clerk 2,400
City Attorney 2,000
City Surveyor5 8,000
Tax Assessor; $1,800
Street Commissioner 2,400
Collector of Revenues 2,000
Water Purveyor 1,700
Recorder 2,000
Chief of Police 3,000
Building Inspector 1,500

1Constable's Hook is the terminus of the longest oil pipe line in the world. This is owned by the Standard Oil Company, and extends to the Indian Territory, some 1,800 miles.
2. In 1900 the foreign-born in the city numbered 10,786.
3. According to the last census (1900), 26.6 per cent, of the private families owned their own homes, while 73.4 per cent, lived in hired dwellings.
4. The first Mayor to receive a salary was Egbert Seymour.
5. This includes the salary of the City Surveyor and his assistants, besides the expenses attached to this department.

Source: First History of Bayonne, New Jersey, by Royden Page Whitcomb, Published by R. P. Whitcomb, 24 East 37TH Street, Bayonne, N. J., 1904.


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