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History of Bayonne

Bayonne, NJ

Before the arrival of the Europeans, Bayonne was the home to Lenni Lenape Native Americans. Dutch settlers arrived in the 1600s after the explorer, Henry Hudson, sailed past the future site of Bayonne, and claimed the area for the Netherlands. Bayonne was known originally as Bergen Neck, located south of the Dutch settlement of Bergen, the predecessor of Jersey City. The area came under British rule in 1664 after they defeated the Dutch. During the American revolution, British and American forces clashed at Fort Delancey in what is now Bayonne.

The completion of the Morris Canal in 1836 linked Bergen Neck with the rest of Northern New Jersey. Steamboats connected the peninsula with New York City as early as 1846. Railroads came to Bayonne in the 1860s.

Residents of Bergen Township living between the Morris Canal and the Kill Van Kull formed the independent township of Bayonne with a township council form of government in 1861. The municipal name was taken from Bayonne Avenue, a cross-town road that is today's 33rd Street. Bayonne united the villages of Bergen Point, Constable Hook, Centerville, Pamrapo and Saltersville. The township became the City of Bayonne with a mayor-council form of government in 1869. In that era, New York residents and America's gentry, including presidents and authors flocked to Bayonne to enjoy its resort hotels and beaches. The first mayor was Henry Meigs, Jr., President of the New York Stock Exchange. Bayonne was an early boat-building and yachting center. Its farmers, fishers and oystermen supplied the nearby New York market. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Bayonne urbanized and industrialized rapidly, becoming the home to thousands of European immigrants. In 1877, the standard Oil Company took over a small refinery. By the 1920s, Standard Oil became the city's largest employer with over 6,000 workers. At that time, Bayonne was one of the largest oil refinery centers in the world.

Military Ocean Terminal During the progressive era Bayonne abolished the mayor-council form of government, and adopted the commission form in 1915. In 1962, Bayonne returned to a mayor-council form of government. During World War II, Bayonne became the home of a large shipping terminal, built on man-made land jutting from the east side of the city into New York Bay. It was the site of the largest dry-dock on the Eastern seaboard and the location of the vast naval supply center. Known as the Military Ocean Terminal (MOT), the facility became a US Army base in 1967. Ships carried goods from World War II to the Persian Gulf War and the Haiti mission in the 1990s. The City of Bayonne is planning the transformation of the base for new uses by early in the next century when the base is scheduled to close.

Bayonne is a community that retains many of the elements of a small town. One and two family homes, small apartment buildings, and small business predominate. There is a population of 62,000 people who take pride in their hometown and its history. Bayonne residents and their ancestors moved to the city from many parts of the world. During colonial times and the first century of the American Republic, the Dutch, British, and Africans were the first groups to arrive after the Native Americans. Subsequent waves of immigrants came from all over Europe, especially between the 1880s and the 1920s. In recent decades, sources of immigration have largely been represented from countries in Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeastern Asia. Each group has left its mark on the cultural, religious and political life of the community.

Bayonne homes are among the best urban housing stock in the state, with residents actively maintaining and improving their homes and property. Our schools, both public and private, are outstanding, and our youngsters achieve some of the highest scores and honors in New Jersey. In the decades since World War II, oil refining and other traditional industries have declined, and have been replaced by port operations and the service sector. The city once known as the Peninsula of Industry has restyled itself the Peninsula of Business and Technology. The city Hudson-Bergen Light Rail administration believes that Bayonne is set to begin a new era of economic development with new technology, new shopping malls and a civilianized ocean terminal.

At the dawn of the 21st Century, Bayonne welcomed the arrival of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit System. It has stations at 45th Street, 34th Street, 22nd Street, and 8th Street. Bayonne has had a colorful history, and can look forward to a bright future with new businesses and infrastructure.

The Bayonne Bridge

Bayonne Bridge

One of the longest steel arch bridges in the world, the Bayonne Bridge spans the Kill Van Kull to link Bayonne, New Jersey with the Port Richmond area of Staten Island, New York. It is one of the most spectacular bridges in the metropolitan area, with a mid-span clearance of 150 feet that permits ocean-going vessels to use this entrance to Port Newark and the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal without interference.

This bridge is an important part of the regional system of arterial highways. On Staten Island, it leads to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge via the Martin Luther King, Jr. Expressway and the eastbound Staten Island Expressway. It also leads to the Goethals Bridge and Outerbridge Crossing via the westbound Staten Island Expressway. The Bayonne Bridge was awarded the prize for the most beautiful steel arch bridge of 1931 by the American Institute for Steel Construction. The design of the arch features a slender, slightly tapered hyperbolic curve over the roadway. The trusses of the arch are a pleasing pattern of repetitive regular triangles.

Technical Bridge Facts

Opened to Traffic November 15, 1931
Length of Arch Span 1,675 feet
Length of New Jersey Viaduct 3,010 feet
Length of Staten Island Viaduct 2,010 feet
Total Length of Elevated Structure 6,695 feet
Total Length of Bridge 5,789 feet
Width of Bridge 85 feet
Number of Traffic Lanes 4 lanes
Width of Roadway 40 feet
Channel Clearance of Bridge at Mid-Span 150 feet
Height of Arch Above Water at Crown 325 feet
Cost of original structure $13,000,000
Port Authority investment as of 12/31/98 $114,698,000
Number of Toll Lanes 4

Additional Facts:
  • Structural Type: Arch bridge (fixed, suspended deck)
  • Function: Highway bridge
  • Location: Between Staten Island, City of New York, NY (USA) and Bayonne, NJ (USA)
  • Crosses: Kill van Kull
  • Built: 1928-1931
  • Owner(s): Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
  • Chief Engineer: Othmar Herrmann Ammann
  • Design Engineer: Allston Dana
  • Consulting Engineer: Leon Solomon Moisseiff
  • Architectural Consulting: Cass Gilbert
  • Design Firm: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
  • Contractor: American Bridge Company

The Bayonne Flag

Bayonne Flag The city's colors are blue, white, and red. The city's flag is most easily described as being the flag of France with our city seal emblazoned in the middle (white) section which were Dutch colors at the time, and would make sense to use them because of Bayonne's early Dutch settlers. Yet, during the time when the city's flag design was being selected, there was a strong relationship between Bayonne, NJ and Bayonne, France. Perhaps that's why the red, white, and blue, national US, Dutch, and French colors appear exactly as the French tricolor.

Up to 1914, Bayonne had no municipal flag. Accordingly Mayor M.T. Cronin, wishing to correct the oversight, requested Mr T.F. Parker, then chairman of the Library Board, to furnish some suitable flag designs for the city. Mr. Parker submitted one, a tricolor red, white, and blue, with a sailing vessel on a white space. William Mann presented a design showing a white flag with a deep blue border converging on each corner. In the center a Schooner-rigged sailing craft, emblematic of the fishing and oyster industry that once flourished in the waters that ebbed and flowed among the shores of our city. The tricolor design by Mr. Parker was adopted and so became the flag of the City of Bayonne.

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