American History and Genealogy Project


Charter Revised - School Improvements

1872 - 1879

Revised Charter - First Street Gas Lamps - School Improvements - First Fire Chief - Fourth Ward Created - Newspaper Extracts

On March 22, 1872, a revised charter was approved, which provided that all the' powers and authority vested in the so-called Map and Grade Commissioners, upon the expiration of their term of office, should then and thereafter be vested in the Mayor and Council. The Commissioners continued in office until May 1, 1873, when their term of office expired.1

Their duties then devolved upon the Board of Councilmen, since which time the Board have had the direction and control of the public improvements in the city.

On February 29, 1872, the first street gas lamp for public use was lighted (ordinance passed December 12, 1871), and in October following a number of the streets in the First Ward were lighted with gas, by contract.

According to the annual report of Police Chief Whitney for 1872, the total number of arrests were two hundred and twenty-five, and the number of places selling liquor in the city limits was forty-six.

During this year the "long dock" had been filled in.

An additional ward was created on March 11, 1873; thereby the city was divided into four wards. The number of Council-men and other ward officers was proportionately increased.

In the winter of 1873-74, the first night school was opened in School No. 4. About this time the city purchased Carragan's building for $10,500, which was reconstructed on the same site where the city government had been inaugurated in April, 1869. On June 30, 1874, the Mayor and Council first met in this, the new City Hall.

For the year 1875, the aggregate sum of $90,675.78 was to be assessed and collected. This included $19,720 for supporting and maintaining public schools; $4,000 for street repairs, etc.; $9,984 for salaries of city officials; and $21,500.78 for lighting streets.

In the spring of 1876, No. 1 School, which was being built on Fifth Street between Avenue C and Newman Avenue, was opened for use (cost about $20,000). Five spacious brick buildings for public school purposes had so far been erected in the several wards, under the direction and supervision of the Board of Education, and a system of instruction was established which placed the schools of the city on a par with the best public schools of the State.

About June 1, 1877, the Standard Oil Company erected an oil refinery on Constable's Hook. This was the beginning of their present enormous plant at that place.

The first chief engineer of the Fire Department was appointed in the same year. This was E. Berry.

At this time it was thought advisable to revise and alter the division into wards, and to increase the number of wards. An ordinance was passed in August, 1877, to create a new ward, notwithstanding the objection of Mayor Meigs. This ordinance was to take effect March 10, 1878. However, on January 22, 1878, this ordinance was repealed.
Extracts from local newspapers during this epoch:

"Chestnuts should be very cheap this year, there is an abundance of them."

"Boatmen on the canal are hurrying up their trips in anticipation of an early close of navigation."

"Farmers are busily engaged in husking corn. The crop is very large, which fact causes the farmers to smile amazingly." "Bovine Express.

"An enterprising citizen passed our office2 on Wednesday morning, driving a yoke of oxen attached to a large wagon loaded with various articles of merchandise, on his way to New York. We afterward saw the same team on its way up Centre Street, New York, followed by a company of boys who manifested great curiosity at the unusual spectacle. Bovines have been brought into quite general use, owing to the prevailing epidemic among the horses." "Hudson County Times," November 1, 1872.

1. Total expenditures amounted to $24,252.14.
2. Avenue D, near Cottage 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.


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