When coming into the town of West New York, New Jersey, mainly the street of Bergenline Avenue, you can instantly tell many of the people in this town are from South or Central America. While I was walking around, I noticed I usually was never alone. There is always someone walking, running, or driving by. There also isn’t a variety of animals you can spot, just your typical street cats, squirrels, birds, and occasionally you will see raccoons and skunks late at night. Walking through Bergenline, I found it to be very noisy and crowded as people walked around going in and out of shopping stores or stopping and eating at restaurants. On the other hand, Boulevard East is very calm and quiet. People use the long street to jog and get their daily exercise done or walk around taking in the beautiful view of the New York City skyline.
As someone who has lived in this town their whole life, it’s history was never something that crossed my mind. Although after my neighborhood walk, I gained interest in learning how West New York came to be the town I grew up and know today. After doing some research online, I have learned many new things. The first known people to have lived here were the Lenni Lenape Tribe. Henry Hudson was the first known English explorer to come to the area in 1609. I assume he is the reason why the county the town is in is called Hudson. In 1658, the tribe sold the land to Peter Stuyvesant, which was later ceded to the English in 1664. Before the town became known as West New York in Hudson County, it was part of Bergen County. It later got separated from Bergen and in 1843 the town became a part of North Bergen. When the towns separated, West New York became a part of Union Township along with Guttenbern and Union Hill. The two other towns later withdrew from the township leaving only West New York until July 8, 1898, when the town officially got the name changed to what we know it by today. After World War II, many residents of the town decided to leave in order to move to suburban areas, to higher their education and start families. This left the town with many homes and apartments for sale or rent. With that being said, this allowed many Cuban refugees to migrate to West New York. Among the first being Albio Sires, who later became the first Cuban- American Mayor in 1962.
It is crazy to think how many changes the town has gone and is still going through throughout the years. Growing up I always noticed little changes like a store closing down to open a new one. As I now walk around town, I notice buildings have been renovated or completely new ones where there used to be houses. Old dirt fields, as I remember them, are now turf fields and the old turf fields now have new turf and look brand new. The little broken down town that I grew up in is now making big changes and improving small details that I didn’t fully notice before.