HISTORICAL BACKGROUND of the PASCACK VALLEY AREA OF BERGEN COUNTY
COUNTY OF BERGEN
Bergen County was given its name by Dutch settlers who came to the New World from the Dutch community of Bergen in the Netherlands. They settled in the area in 1630. The Village of Bergen, now part of Jersey City, was created in 1660, and four years later became an English colony. In 1709, Bergen County included all territory from the Hudson River to the Passaic River, but parts of this expanse became Passaic County in 1837 and another segment formed Hudson County in 1840.
Bergen is bordered by the New York area's primary river, the Hudson, but within its borders flow three other primary streams, the Hackensack, Passaic, and Ramapo Rivers.
Some 550 to 600 million years ago, Bergen's topography was the opposite of what it was today, with mountains in the east and a shallow sea in the west. Volcanic eruptions about 225 million years ago caused these eastern mountains to sink and new peaks to rise in the northwest. The lava flow from these volcanoes formed the Palisades. Between 150,000 and 20,000 years ago, what is today Bergen County was covered with ice - the last of the great glaciers. When the ice at last retreated, it left behind not only the channel of the Hudson River, but also "Lake Hackensack", which lasted for some 3,000 years. When Lake Hackensack finally drained, it left behind the 25 mile stretch of marshland between Perth Amboy and Hackensack known as the Meadowlands.
All territory from the New York state line to Soldier Hill Road in Oradell was formed as Washington Township in 1840. In 1894 the Boroughs of Westwood, Park Ridge, Woodcliff Lake, Montvale, and Old Tappan were carved out of the original Washington Township. In 1898 a still smaller Washington Township came about by the formation of River Vale, Emerson, and Hillsdale. The remaining area becoming Washington Township as we know it today.
On March 25, 1898, Hillsdale Township was incorporated by an act of the State Legislature. It originally comprised all the territory between the Hackensack River and Orvil Township, now Ho-Ho-Kus and Saddle River, and between the Boroughs of Woodcliff Lake, Park Ridge, and the New York State line to the Borough of Westwood. In 1906 River Vale was given more land by carving all the territory in Hillsdale Township east of Demarest Avenue, Cedar Lane and an imaginary line due north and the northeast part of Westwood. What remained was Hillsdale as we know it today.
Early this century there was a widespread feeling that Hillsdale had outgrown the Township form of Government. The adoption of the current borough form was started by the Civic Association which had canvassed the citizens and presented petition of the Township Committee at its meeting on November 20, 1922. On March 2, 1923, an act incorporating the Borough of Hillsdale was passed by the Legislature and adopted by citizen vote on April 24. The Borough form of government within New Jersey dates back to March 28, 1789!
The citizens adopted the name Hillsdale after the "Hillsdale School" that was built on Pascack Road in 1856. Our historic railroad station was named Hillsdale when it was built in 1870.