Blog Post

Hacking the History of Hackensack

Hacking the History of Hackensack

I live in Hackensack, New Jersey, and have been living here for two years. Our class was assigned a neighborhood walk, and for the assignment we had to turn off technology and spend time getting to know our neighborhoods and their histories. I usually don’t walk around my neighborhood much and definitely not to observe my surroundings. However, I’m glad I did it, not just because it was calming, but because I got to learn and experience many things about my neighborhood.

As soon as I opened the door, a calm and soft breeze hits my face. Standing on the front steps of my building, my hair slowly fluttering in the wind, I saw a man wearing huge headphones and black shades, using a leaf blower to remove the leaves from out the sidewalk. A few leaves fell off from their home, the trees, and now they have the wind as their tour guide, revealing to them the beauties of New Jersey. In their short lifespans, they were only able to witness the blue sky, cars passing by, and nearby buildings. The leaves had a slight shade of yellow, signaling that autumn was approaching. Walking on the sidewalk, I heard chirping noises. I looked up and saw two small birds standing on top of a branch. I stood there for a minute with my head held high admiring their beauties. They had these tiny feet accompanied by three small toes; with a beautiful brown skin color and they were seemingly having a conversation among themselves. This got me thinking about the reading for our composition class: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Her objective when writing this book was for readers to understand the dangers of pesticides. If the loss of wildlife continues we will encounter silence; Silence anticipates the future and how we are going to be alone in a world with no beauty of nature. I was lucky enough to spot two small birds in my walk because I have not been seeing or hearing them around my neighborhood lately. 

Hackensack was discovered in the 1660s and throughout the years it has transformed into the community I live in today. The first inhabitants in Hackensack were the Lenni Lenape, Native Americans, and then the Dutch accompanied them in 1693. Their only resources to obtain food was farming and hunting. In an article, Lenape Indian Fact Sheet, it states, “Lenape women did most of the farming, harvesting corn, squash and beans. Lenape men went hunting for deer, elk, turkeys, and small game, and caught fish in the rivers and inlets.”  In today’s world, we are more advance in agriculture because the population continues to grow. Therefore, when I went for my walk, I could scent the smell and the music that reminded me of my second home; the Dominican Republic. There is a Dominican restaurant in the corner of my street; I smell a delicious and slightly greasy empanada. I hear the fast pace merengue music coming out of the restaurant that just makes you want to dance. I notice a family eating outside the restaurant laughing and enjoying their meals. The food that the restaurant prepared in which the family was eating is coming from food stores. People in Hackensack can even receive food that’s already prepared for them to eat: when they go to restaurants or order in. People in Hackensack does not need to harvest their food or capture any if they don’t want to, we can simply purchase them in stores.  

 The population in the city of Hackensack has expanded over time. In the 1800s the city’s population was at 2,835 and right now it’s at 45,074. In the article, Hackensack History, asserts, “We welcomed people from everywhere between 1820 and 1920. Before 1883, most came from England, Scotland, Holland, France, and Scandinavia. In the second wave (1890-1920): Italy, Ireland, Poland, Greece, Russia, and other countries. But the town wasn’t done. A third wave began in the 1960s from Colombia and Ecuador. And today, Hackensack boasts lots of folks from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Spain, Venezuela, Mexico, and Costa Rica.” For instance, I observed a mother that looks in her early 30s, she was crossing the street with her sons. She was explaining to her sons the importance of being cautious when crossing the street but in her own language, Spanish. Also, I witnessed two Hispanic men greeting each other like they never meant before, and they were both proudly wearing a Puerto Rican flag shirt. My community is incredibly diverse, so many different cultures and people of different ethnicities in one neighborhood. 

In the 1660s Hackensack was viewed as a village instead of a city like in today’s world. There are many tall and red brick buildings around my neighborhood and you will only notice a few houses. In the article, Hackensack, New Jersey, claims “These areas were all very sparsely populated and consisted of farm fields, woods, and swamplands. Hackensack back in the days didn’t have, buildings, concrete sidewalks, and streets. Furthermore, I became aware of the different possibilities we have for transportation. I notice many cars passing by, Ubers, people waiting for the bus stop, and a railroad. Also, another form of transportation I noticed is that I saw a few kids riding their bikes and arguing to determine the real winner of the race. However, before, people from Hackensack used to depend on wagons, horses, and their canoes for transportation. The advancement in technology has allowed for Hackensack to thrive in today's world and transform into the modern city I know today.




Dear Lesley, 

I love your post! Good job with the title, it is fun and inviting, so I immediately wanted to read more. Your second paragraph was very descriptive, and I could really visualize Hackensack through your words. How wonderful to imagine being somewhere else for a few moments, just through reading!
I like how you were able to link our class reading of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring into your essay. I think it was a reading most of us could relate to on some level, so it was interesting reading about your understanding of the future "silent spring” 's reality and consequences in your neighborhood. 


You do such a beautiful job of describing the experience of your walk. Thank you for sharing that with us and transporting us there!