Weehawken is a township in the northern part of Hudson County, New Jersey, United States. It is located largely on the Hudson Palisades overlooking the Hudson River. As of the 2020 United States Census, the population was 17,197.
The name Weehawken is generally considered to have evolved from the Algonquian language Lenape spoken by the Hackensack and Tappan. It has variously been interpreted as "maize land", "place of gulls", "rocks that look like trees", which would refer to the Palisades, atop which most of the town sits, or "at the end", among other suggested translations.
Three U.S. Navy ships have been named for the city. The USS Weehawken, launched on November 5, 1862, was a Passaic-class monitor, or ironclad ship, which sailed for the Union Navy during the American Civil War, encountered battles at the Charleston, South Carolina coast, and sank in a moderate gale on December 6, 1863. The Weehawken was the last ferry to The West Shore Terminal on March 25, 1959, at 1:10 am, ending 259 years of continuous ferry service. Weehawken Street in Manhattan's Greenwich Village was the site of a colonial Hudson River ferry landing.
The name and the place have inspired mention in multiple works of popular culture.
Weehawken was formed as a township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature, on March 15, 1859, from portions of Hoboken and North Bergen. A portion of the township was ceded to Hoboken in 1874. Additional territory was annexed in 1879 from West Hoboken.
The township's written history began in 1609, when Henry Hudson, on his third voyage to the New World, sailed down what was later named the North River on the Half Moon and weighed anchor in Weehawken Cove. At the time it was the territory of the Hackensack and Tappan, of the Turtle Clan, or Unami, a branch of the Lenni Lenape. They were displaced by immigrants to the province of New Netherland, who had begun to settle the west bank of the Hudson at Pavonia in 1630. On May 11, 1647, Maryn Adriansen received a patent for a plantation (of 169 acres) at Awiehaken. In 1658, Director-General of New Netherland Peter Stuyvesant negotiated a deal with the Lenape to purchase all the land from "the great rock above Wiehacken", west to Sikakes (Secaucus) and south to Konstapels Hoeck (Constable Hook). In 1661, Weehawken became part of Bergen when it (and most of northeastern New Jersey) came under the jurisdiction of the court at Bergen Square.
In 1674, New Netherland was ceded to the British, and the town became part of the Province of East Jersey. John Luby, in 1677, acquired several parcels comprising along the Hudson. Most habitation was along the top of the cliffs since the low-lying areas were mostly marshland. Descriptions from the period speak of the dense foliage and forests and excellent land for growing vegetables and orchard fruits. As early as 1700 there was regular, if sporadic ferry service from Weehawken. In 1752, King George II made the first official grant for ferry service, the ferry house north of Hoboken primarily used for farm produce, and likely was sold at the Greenwich Village landing that became Weehawken Street.
During the American Revolutionary War, Weehawken was used as a lookout for the patriots to check on the British, who were situated in New York and controlled the surrounding waterways. In fact, in July 1778, Lord Stirling asked Aaron Burr, in a letter written on behalf of General George Washington, to employ several persons to "go to Bergen Heights, Weehawk, Hoebuck, or any other heights thereabout to observe the motions of the enemy's shipping" and to gather any other possible intelligence. Early documented inhabitants included a Captain James Deas, whose stately residence at Deas' Point was located atop a knoll along the river. Lafayette had used the mansion as his headquarters and later Washington Irving came to gaze at Manhattan.
Not far from Deas' was a ledge 11 paces wide and 20 paces long, situated above the Hudson on the Palisades. This ledge, long gone, was the site of 18 documented duels and probably many unrecorded ones in the years 1798–1845. The most famous is the duel between General Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury, and Colonel Aaron Burr, sitting third Vice President of the United States, which took place on July 11, 1804; this duel was re-enacted on its 200th anniversary (July 11, 2004) by descendants of Hamilton and Burr. Three years earlier, a duel was held at this spot between Hamilton's son, Philip Hamilton, and George Eacker. (Another source, however, puts the duel in Paulus Hook in Jersey City.) Phillip, who had been defending his father's honor, suffered a fatal wound in his hip and his left arm and died two days later on November 24, 1801.
In the mid-19th century, James G. King built his estate Highwood on the bluff that now bears his name, and entertained many political and artistic figures of the era, including Daniel Webster.
With the ferry, the Hackensack Plank Road (a toll road that was a main artery from Weehawken to Hackensack), and later, the West Shore Railroad, built during the early 1870s, the waterfront became a transportation hub. The wealthy built homes along the top of the New Jersey Palisades, where they might flee from the sweltering heat of New York, and breathe the fresh air of the heights. Weehawken became the playground of the rich during the middle to late 19th century. A series of wagon lifts, stairs, and even a passenger elevator designed by the same engineer as those at the Eiffel Tower (which at the time was the world's largest) were put in place to accommodate the tourists and summer dwellers. The Eldorado Amusement Park, a pleasure garden which opened in 1891, drew massive crowds.
Weehawken is part of the New York metropolitan area. Situated on the western shore of the Hudson River, along the southern end of the New Jersey Palisades across from Midtown Manhattan, it is the western terminus of the Lincoln Tunnel. Weehawken is one of the towns that comprise North Hudson, sometimes called NoHu in the artistic community.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 1.48 square miles (3.82 km2), including 0.78 square miles (2.03 km2) of land and 0.69 square miles (1.79 km2) of water (46.69%).
The township borders the municipalities of Hoboken, Union City and West New York in Hudson County; and the New York City borough of Manhattan, across the Hudson River.
While the Palisades defines Weehawken's natural topography, the Lincoln Tunnel (which cuts the town in half) looms as an inescapable man-made feature. Geographically, Weehawken has distinct neighborhoods: Downtown, the Heights, Uptown (which includes Kingswood Bluff, known as "The Bluff"), and the Waterfront, which since the 1990s has been developed for transportation, commercial, recreational and residential uses. Though some are long abandoned (e.g., Grauert Causeway), there are still several outdoor public staircases (e.g., Shippen Steps) throughout the town, and more than 15 "dead-end" streets. At its southeastern corner is Weehawken Cove which, along with the rail tracks farther inland, defines Weehawken's border with Hoboken. Its northern boundary is shared with West New York. Traversing Weehawken is Boulevard East, a scenic thoroughfare offering a sweeping vista of the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline. Local zoning laws prohibit the construction of high-rise buildings that would obstruct sight-lines from higher points in town. In a 1999 decision that blocked the development of a pair of waterfront towers that would have stood , a judge cited the panoramic vistas from Weehawken as "a world-class amenity that encourages people to live, work and locate businesses in the area". In 2021, the development company Roseland donated 14.5 acres of the Palisades cliff face to the town in order to preserve its beauty and its history.
The turn of the 20th century saw the end of the large estates, casinos, hotels, and theaters as tourism gave way to subdivisions (such as Highwood Park and Clifton Park) and the construction of many of the private homes still seen in town. This coincided with the influx of the Germans, Austrians, and Swiss, who built them and the breweries and embroidery factories in nearby Union City and West New York. While remaining essentially residential, Weehawken continued to grow as Hudson County became more industrial and more populated. Shortly after World War I, a significant contingent of Syrian immigrants from Homs (a major textile center in its own right) moved into Weehawken to take advantage of the burgeoning textile industry.
The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $62,435 (with a margin of error of +/- $6,887) and the median family income was $90,903 (+/- $17,797). Males had a median income of $53,912 (+/- $7,426) versus $50,129 (+/- $3,238) for females. The per capita income for the township was $45,206 (+/- $5,011). About 10.1% of families and 12.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.2% of those under age 18 and 20.4% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 United States Census there were 13,501 people, 5,975 households, and 3,059 families residing in the township. The population density was 15,891.3 people per square mile (6,132.7/km2). There were 6,159 housing units at an average density of 7,249.4 per square mile (2,797.7/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 73.05% White, 3.58% African American, 0.20% Native American, 4.67% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 13.94% from other races, and 4.47% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 40.64% of the population.
There were 5,975 households, out of which 20.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.1% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.8% were non-families. 35.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 3.02.
In the township the population was spread out, with 16.6% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 42.4% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.9 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $50,196, and the median income for a family was $52,613. Males had a median income of $41,307 versus $36,063 for females. The per capita income for the township was $29,269. About 9.3% of families and 11.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.0% of those under age 18 and 11.3% of those age 65 or over.
Weehawken, with a population density about equal to that of Jersey City, is among the most densely populated municipalities in the United States.
Weehawken has a retail district along Park Avenue (its boundary with Union City) and large office and apartment/townhouse developments along the Hudson River. Weehawken is a mostly residential community, but has a business district at Lincoln Harbor between the Lincoln Tunnel and Weehawken Cove. UBS, Swatch Group USA, Hartz Mountain Telx Technologies (colocation center) are among the corporations which maintain offices in the neighborhood, which also hosts a Sheraton Hotels and Resorts-branded hotel.
Formula One announced plans in 2011 to host a street race on a circuit stretching in Weehawken and West New York called Grand Prix of America, that was planned to have its first event in June 2013. The three-day event was anticipated to attract 100,000 people and bring in approximately $100 million in economic activity. The 2013 race was dropped from the calendar, with Formula One President and CEO Bernie Ecclestone stating that the promoters were in breach of contract and that new proposals from other parties would be welcome. The race was repeatedly added then removed from future Formula One provisional calendars, and dropped completely from the provisional calendar by 2016.
Points of interest
Though the panoramic view (from the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge to George Washington Bridge) may be its most famous attraction, Weehawken is also home to other sites of historic, aesthetic, and engineering importance:
The Alexander Hamilton Monument on Hamilton Avenue, next to Hamilton Park, is the site of the second memorial to the Burr–Hamilton duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. The first, on the original duel site, was constructed in 1806 by the Saint Andrew Society, of which Hamilton had been a member. A 14-foot (4.3-m) marble cenotaph, consisting of an obelisk, topped by a flaming urn and a plaque with a quote from Horace, surrounded by an iron fence, was raised about where Hamilton was believed to have fallen. Duels continued to be fought at the site, and the marble was slowly vandalized and removed for souvenirs, disappearing entirely by 1820. The tablet turned up in a junk store and found its way to the New-York Historical Society in Manhattan, where it still resides.
From 1820 to 1857, the site was marked by two stones, with the names Hamilton and Burr, placed where they were thought to have stood during the duel. When a road from Hoboken to Fort Lee was built through the site in 1858, an inscription on a boulder where a mortally wounded Hamilton was thought to have rested—one of the many pieces of graffiti left by visitors—was all that remained. No primary accounts of the duel confirm the boulder anecdote. In 1870, railroad tracks were built directly through the site, and the boulder was hauled to the top of the Palisades, where it remains today, located just off the Boulevard East. In 1894, an iron fence was built around the boulder, supplemented by a bust of Hamilton and a plaque. The bust was thrown over the cliff on October 14, 1934, by vandals, and the head was never recovered; a new bust was unveiled on July 12, 1935.
The plaque was stolen by vandals in the 1980s, and an abbreviated version of the text was inscribed on the indentation left in the boulder, which remained until the early 1990s, when a granite pedestal was added in front of the boulder, and the bust was moved to the top of the pedestal. New historical markers were added on July 11, 2004, the 200th anniversary of the duel.
Weehawken operates within the Faulkner Act, formally known as the Optional Municipal Charter Law, under the Council-Manager form of municipal government. The township is one of 42 municipalities (of the 565) statewide that use this form of government. The governing body is comprised of a five-member Township Council, whose members are elected to serve four-year terms of office on a concurrent basis in non-partisan elections held in May. Two council members are elected from the township at-large and the remainder are chosen from each of three wards. The council selects a mayor from among its members in a reorganization meeting held in the first week of July after the election.
, the mayor of Weehawken is Richard F. Turner (at-large), whose term of office ends June 30, 2022. Turner has served in office since he first became mayor in 1990 after Stanley Iacono chose not to run for reelection. Other members of the Township Council are Council President Rosemary J. Lavagnino (2nd Ward), David J. Curtis (at large), Raul I. Gonzalez (3rd Ward) and Carmela Silvestri-Ehret (1st Ward), all serving terms of office expiring on June 30, 2022.
Giovanni D. Ahmad is the township manager.
Federal, state and county representation
Weehawken is located in the 8th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 33rd state legislative district. Prior to the 2010 Census, Weehawken had been part of the , a change made by the New Jersey Redistricting Commission that took effect in January 2013, based on the results of the November 2012 general elections.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 7,335 registered voters in Weehawken, of which 3,717 (50.7%) were registered as Democrats, 850 (11.6%) were registered as Republicans and 2,753 (37.5%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 15 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 74.7% of the vote (3,692 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 23.6% (1,169 votes), and other candidates with 1.7% (83 votes), among the 4,969 ballots cast by the township's 7,995 registered voters (25 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 62.2%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 72.4% of the vote (3,895 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 26.1% (1,406 votes) and other candidates with 1.0% (52 votes), among the 5,381 ballots cast by the township's 8,230 registered voters, for a turnout of 65.4%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 65.0% of the vote (3,250 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 33.8% (1,688 votes) and other candidates with 0.4% (26 votes), among the 4,997 ballots cast by the township's 7,293 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 68.5.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Barbara Buono received 55.5% of the vote (1,407 cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 42.2% (1,070 votes), and other candidates with 2.4% (60 votes), among the 2,637 ballots cast by the township's 8,135 registered voters (100 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 32.4%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 69.9% of the vote (2,209 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 25.1% (792 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 3.8% (119 votes) and other candidates with 0.9% (27 votes), among the 3,161 ballots cast by the township's 7,220 registered voters, yielding a 43.8% turnout.
Weehawken is served by North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue (NHRFR). Engine 3 and Engine 5 are assigned to two fire stations located in the township.
Weehawken Volunteer First Aid and the Weehawken Police Department were among the many Hudson County agencies that responded to the January 2009 crash of Flight 1549, for which they received accolades from the survivors.
The Weehawken School District serves public school students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2018–19 school year, the district, comprised of three schools, had an enrollment of 1,458 students and 120.5 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 12.1:1. Schools in the district (with 2018–19 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are
Daniel Webster School served 418 students in PreK through 2nd grade,
Theodore Roosevelt School served 420 students in grades 3-6 and
Weehawken High School served 569 students in grades 7-12 The school system is known for its small classes and high ratings.
The Woodrow Wilson Arts Integrated School (grades 1–8), located in Weehawken, was part of the Union City School District.
Hoboken Catholic School, a consolidation of existing Catholic schools, is located in Hoboken. A K-8 school, it was formerly co-sponsored by St. Lawrence Church in Weehawken and four Hoboken churches before the archdiocese's Lighting the Way program changed the allocation of money for schools in the archdiocese.
The Weehawken Public Library has a collection of approximately 43,000 volumes and circulates 40,600 items annually. and is a member of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System. The landmark building, extensively renovated and updated in 1999.
Roads and highways
, the township had a total of of roadways, of which were maintained by the municipality, by Hudson County and by the Port Authority of NY & NJ.
Route 495 travels east-west between the Lincoln Tunnel and the New Jersey Turnpike (Interstate 95) with interchanges for Route 3 and U.S. Route 1/9 in North Bergen Township. County Route 505 also passes through the township.
Public transportation in Weehawken is provided by bus, ferry, and light rail.
Bus service is provided along busy north-south corridors on Park Avenue, Boulevard East and Port Imperial Boulevard by NJ Transit and privately operated jitneys within Hudson County, and to Manhattan and Bergen County. NJT 123, 126, 128, 156, 158, 159, 165, 166, 168 originate/terminate at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. NJT 23 and 89 travel between Nungessers and Hoboken Terminal, where transfer is possible to PATH and NJT commuter rail. NJ Transit buses 84 and 86 travel between Nungessers and Journal Square or Pavonia/Newport in Jersey City. Routes 68 and 67 provide minimal peak service from Lincoln Harbor to the Jersey Shore.
Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (HBLR) service is available westbound to Bergenline and Tonnelle Avenue and southbound to Hoboken, Jersey City and Bayonne at the Lincoln Harbor station and Port Imperial station, where transfer to NY Waterway ferries to Midtown and Lower Manhattan is possible.
Bieber Transportation Group formerly provided intercity bus service from Reading, Kutztown, Wescosville, and Hellertown in Pennsylvania to Port Imperial in Weehawken, where NY Waterway ferries provided a connection to New York City; the ferry ride was included in the ticket price for the bus. The service started on August 27, 2018 and ended on November 6, 2018, with Bieber resuming direct bus service into New York City.
NY Waterway headquarters are located at Weehawken Port Imperial.
In 2013, a planned regional bike share system was announced by the Mayors of Weehawken and two cities to its south. Hudson Bike Share, launched in Hoboken in 2015, expanded to Weehawken in 2017.
Media and culture
Weehawken is located within the New York media market, with most of its daily papers available for sale or delivery. The Jersey Journal is a local daily paper covering news in the county.
Local weeklies include the free bilingual paper, Hudson Dispatch Weekly, (named for the former daily Hudson Dispatch), The Hudson Reporter, the Weehawken Reporter, the Spanish language El Especialito. and the River View Observer.
The Weehawken Sequence, an early 20th-century series of approximately 100 oil sketches by local artist John Marin, who worked in the city, is considered among, if not the first, abstract paintings done by an American artist. The sketches, which blend aspects of Impressionism, Fauvism and Cubism, have been compared to the work of Jackson Pollock.
The Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center is a non-profit organization whose mission is to build a world-class performing arts center on the waterfront. Since 2004, it has presented both indoor and outdoor events at Lincoln Harbor.
In popular culture
The name and the place have inspired mention in multiple works of popular culture. For example, on the Fox Channel animated television series, Futurama, Weehawken is the home of the former DOOP headquarters. In visual art, Weehawken is the subject of the American painter Edward Hopper's East Wind Over Weehawken. Additionally, the Broadway musical Hamilton includes a scene depicting the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, as well as the duel between Phillip Hamilton and George Eacker.
In Dr. Seuss's classic children's book Horton Hatches the Egg, Horton the Elephant visits Weehawken while he is in the circus, and in Dr. Seuss's The Lorax, the Onceler gives directions to the land of the Truffula trees that include "turn left at Weehawken." In the Apple TV+ animated musical, Central Park, a rap about Weehawken recorded by Daveed Diggs is sung by Helen, one of the characters.
Jazz composer and pianist Thelonious Monk lived during his final decade until his death in 1982 in a modernist home at 63 Kingswood Road owned by Jazz patron and heiress Pannonica de Koenigswarter - which she bought from film director Josef von Sternberg and later dubbed "the Mad Pad" and "the Cathouse."
The 1980 Italian science fiction/horror film Contamination features an Edwardian home on the corner of Boulevard East and 46th Street, in the scene in which a disgraced former astronaut is visited by the colonel who disgraced him.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Weehawken include
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