BHISTORY OF GARFIELD
Garfield, situated at the junction of the Passaic and Saddle Rivers, was originally the home of the Hackensack Clan of the Leni Lenape Tribe of the Algonquin Indians who came here thousands of years ago.
In 1679 Jacques Cortelyou from New Utrecht, Long Island, sailed up the Passaic River and, taking a liking to the place, began negotiations with the Indians which resulted in the sale of a tract called Acqueyquinonke covering land from the Saddle River to the Great Rock (in Glen Rock) lying near the highlands and covered 5320 acres.
The Saddle River, which flows into the Passaic River, was named by two Scotsmen who came from Argilshire in Scotland, after a river Sadel, in Scotland.
The Passaic River was named after the Passaik Tribe of Indians whose hunting grounds were across the river.
Early in the American Revolutionary War, November 1776, General George Washington fled Fort Lee and Hackensack and marched his American army across a bridge over the Hackensack River and a bridge over the Passaic River just north of where Gregory Avenue is today in Wallington. Washington and his men camped there for the night and later retreated into Pennsylvania before his historic crossing of the Delaware Christmas 1776.
The bridge over the Passaic River was destroyed by men led by John H. Post, a farmer’s boy. The British in pursuit of Washington arrived at the bridge and finding it destroyed, turned and followed the Passaic River until they arrived at Adrian Post’s farm and grist mill near Toer’s Lane (Outwater Lane) in present day Garfield where they could ford the river. They camped for the night in homes, barns and sheds along the river from Monroe Street to Toer’s Lane. Heavy rains prevented them from fording the river and they stayed for a week, finally crossing November 27, 1776 to the great relief of the farmers, all of whom, with one exception, were loyal Americans. A historical monument marks the spot on the riverbank near the corner of River Drive and Columbus Avenue.
Gilbert D. Bogart is often credited as having been the founder of “modern day” Garfield. When seven houses were constructed in 1873 between Monroe Street and Van Winkle Avenue, the area became known as “East Passaic”. He would later construct about three hundred more homes and the lower part of the Harrison Avenue area became known as “Bogart Heights”.
Around the turn of the 20th century, Garfield grew rapidly, not only in population, but in its industries as well. Although Garfield became predominantly a textile manufacturing community, other types of companies thrived here too. They included Heyden Chemical Company, The Hammersley Manufacturing Company, and Yoo-Hoo.
Important worsted or woolen mills in Garfield included Samuel Hird, New Jersey Worsted, Hartmann Embroidery and the Forstmann Plant off Lanza Avenue which was the only early Garfield company to benefit from the Dundee Dam.
Garfield was once part of the Township of Saddle River, which was originally created in 1737. Garfield broke away to become a borough on March 15, 1898 and the State Legislature set Garfield’s same boundaries which exist today. On April 19, 1917, the borough became the City of Garfield.
Since 1972, Garfield has been governed by a City Manager and a five member Council, one of who is selected by his or her Council colleagues to be the Mayor. All of the members of the City Council are elected at large for four year terms. The work of the City is carried on under the supervision of the appointed Department Heads and they, in turn, report to the City Manager.
The area of Garfield is 1,333 acres or 2.08 square miles with an elevation from 10 to 160 feet. The City has more than 20 places of worship, a YMCA, a Boys and Girls Club, City Recreation Center, Senior Citizens Center, Health Center, Public Library, and five volunteer Fire Companies.