Princeton University Library Historic Maps Collection

New Jersey Counties: First Wall Maps and Atlases

Hudson County

County Data
Founded: 1840, from Bergen County
Total Area: 62 square miles; the state's smallest county
Population: 62,717 (1860); 634,266 (2010)
County Seat: Jersey City
Largest City: Jersey City

1860: County Map

Matthew Dripps. "Map of the Five Cities of New York, Brooklyn, Jersey City, Hoboken & Hudson City" (New York?: M. Dripps, 1860) [Historic Maps Collection]. "Plate No. 2." One of two lithographed map sheets, with added color, 63 x 71 cm. "Prepared by M. Dripps for Valentine's Manuel [sic] of the Corporation of the city of New York.&wuot; Scale: 2.5 miles to 1 inch.
Matthew Dripps. "Map of the Five Cities of New York, Brooklyn, Jersey City, Hoboken & Hudson City" (New York?: M. Dripps, 1860) [Historic Maps Collection]. "Plate No. 2." One of two lithographed map sheets, with added color, 63 x 71 cm. "Prepared by M. Dripps for Valentine's Manuel [sic] of the Corporation of the city of New York.&wuot; Scale: 2.5 miles to 1 inch.

One of the first large maps to include any part of Hudson County. In 1840, Hudson County was created by the New Jersey Legislature from southern parts of Bergen County; as a result, the township area labeled "Bergen" in large letters on this map is actually part of Hudson County. The dizzying absorption, dissolution, and creation of New Jersey townships (and, to some extent, counties) during the nineteenth century often made borders difficult to define and understand.

Ferry lines are indicated by dotted lines. Today's Holland Tunnel crosses under the Hudson River from Jersey City's 12th Street to Manhattan's Spring Street, essentially following the middle dotted line shown on the map. Opened in 1927, the tunnel pioneered a mechanical ventilation system that could handle the noxious carbon monoxide emissions of the cars. The three tubes of the Lincoln Tunnel (1927, 1945, 1957) connect Hudson County's Weehawken (near the top of the map) to Manhattan at Tenth Avenue between Thirty-Eighth and Thirty-Ninth Streets.

2013: Elysian Fields memorial marker at the corner of 11th and Washington Streets in Hoboken.
2013: Elysian Fields memorial marker at the corner of 11th and Washington Streets in Hoboken.

At the top left of the map, "Three Pigeons" marks the site of a former tavern that was a prominent meeting place during the American Revolution. Historically, it was used as a landmark and popular venue for special events; today, it is an intersection. "Elysian Fields," colored blue on the Hudson River side of Hoboken, is where the Knickerbockers played the New York Nine on June 19, 1846, the first organized baseball game. Hence, some claim it is the birthplace of baseball.

Note the proximity of Ellis and Bedloes Islands to Hudson County territory. The first settlers of New Netherlands named these (with the small one below them) the Oyster Islands, for the western side of the Upper New York Bay consisted of vast tidal flats, called the Jersey Flats, rich in oyster beds. The islands are closer to the mainland today, for much of that area has been landfilled, creating Liberty State Park. The federal government took ownership and control of them in the early 1800s, initially for defensive purposes. The installation of the Statue of Liberty on Bedloes Island was completed in 1886; the island became Liberty Island by an act of Congress in 1956.

D. T. Valentine's Manual of the Corporation of New York was published annually from 1841 to 1870. Illustrated with maps and prints, these volumes documented New York City government with lists of offices and officeholders, election and financial statistics, and information about social institutions and services.

1880: County Wall Map

1880: County Wall Map. Spielmann & Brush. <em>Sanitary & Topographical Map of Hudson County, N.J.: Prepared for the National Board of Health, Washington, D.C.</em>(Hoboken, N.J.: Spielmann & Brush, 1880) [Historic Maps Collection]. Wall map, with ornamental border and added color, dissected into eight sections, bound in volume, 56 cm. Scale: 1,000 feet to 1 inch.
1880: County Wall Map. Spielmann & Brush. Sanitary & Topographical Map of Hudson County, N.J.: Prepared for the National Board of Health, Washington, D.C.(Hoboken, N.J.: Spielmann & Brush, 1880) [Historic Maps Collection]. Wall map, with ornamental border and added color, dissected into eight sections, bound in volume, 56 cm. Scale: 1,000 feet to 1 inch.

1880: County Wall Map. Spielmann & Brush. <em>Sanitary & Topographical Map of Hudson County, N.J.: Prepared for the National Board of Health, Washington, D.C.</em>(Hoboken, N.J.: Spielmann & Brush, 1880) [Historic Maps Collection]. Wall map, with ornamental border and added color, dissected into eight sections, bound in volume, 56 cm. Scale: 1,000 feet to 1 inch.
1880: County Wall Map. Spielmann & Brush. Sanitary & Topographical Map of Hudson County, N.J.: Prepared for the National Board of Health, Washington, D.C.(Hoboken, N.J.: Spielmann & Brush, 1880) [Historic Maps Collection]. Wall map, with ornamental border and added color, dissected into eight sections, bound in volume, 56 cm. Scale: 1,000 feet to 1 inch.

First wall map of Hudson County. Created for civil engineering purposes, the map offers extraordinary detail relating to meadowland, land reclaimed from the sea, graded streets, sewers, and railroads. Small figures at the intersection of streets indicate elevations above mean high water marks, and similar figures in the bays and rivers show the depth of water, ascertained by the U. S. Coast Survey. Two lines in the water surrounding most of the land identify the extents of future development possibilities for landfilling and pier building.

The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, viewed from Liberty State Park, the former site of Black Tom Island. In the foreground on the left, <em>Liberation</em>, a bronze statue designed by Nathan Rapoport, depicts a World War II soldier carrying a survivor from a German concentration camp.
The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, viewed from Liberty State Park, the former site of Black Tom Island. In the foreground on the left, Liberation, a bronze statue designed by Nathan Rapoport, depicts a World War II soldier carrying a survivor from a German concentration camp.

Black Tom, the island above the letter "Y" in New York Bay, was used as a shipping depot; as the map shows, a causeway and railroad linked it to the mainland. At the time of World War I, the island had become a major munitions depot for the Northeast, and huge quantities of ammunition and TNT were stored there awaiting shipment to Europe. On July 30, 1916, an act of sabotage by German agents ignited the whole arsenal in an explosion of epic proportions: people as far away as Maryland and Connecticut heard the noise and thought it was an earthquake. Shrapnel damaged the arm of the Statue of Liberty, and visits to the torch have not been allowed since. (Prior to September 11, 2001, this was one of the worst acts of terrorism committed on American soil.) Later landfills merged the island with the mainland; it is now part of Liberty State Park.

Visible under the K in "Weehawken," "Duel Ground" marks the location of the most famous duel in American history. Here, on the morning of July 11, 1804, the sitting vice president, Aaron Burr, mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton, the former secretary of the Treasury. Though murder charges against Burr were ultimately dropped, his political career also died that day.

1873: County Atlas

First atlas of Hudson County. It begins with a four-page "Special Classified Business Directory," listing alphabetically by type of services offered (such as "Boots and Shoes," "Plasterer," "Saloon Keepers") the names and addresses of county businesses. The rest of the volume consists entirely of maps: a state map, twenty-one county maps, and Hudson County city/town/township maps. Twenty plates are devoted to Jersey City and five to Hoboken. Sixteen additional plates cover sections of the towns of West Hoboken and Union; Union, Weehawken, North Bergen, and Kearney Townships; the former township of Greenville (now part of Jersey City); and the city of Bayonne. Most plates are double-page.

Title page. Note that Hopkins is described as the "author of all the Maps made for the Late Geological Survey of New Jersey." Griffith Morgan Hopkins, Jr. Combined Atlas of the State of New Jersey and the County of Hudson: From Actual Survey, Official Records & Private Plans (Philadelphia: G. M. Hopkins, 1873) [Historic Maps Collection]. 169 pp., including maps.
Title page. Note that Hopkins is described as the "author of all the Maps made for the Late Geological Survey of New Jersey." Griffith Morgan Hopkins, Jr. Combined Atlas of the State of New Jersey and the County of Hudson: From Actual Survey, Official Records & Private Plans (Philadelphia: G. M. Hopkins, 1873) [Historic Maps Collection]. 169 pp., including maps.

"Outline & Index Map of Hudson County, New Jersey." Lithograph map, with added color, 40 × 65.4 cm. Scale: 2,500 feet to 1 inch.
"Outline & Index Map of Hudson County, New Jersey." Lithograph map, with added color, 40 × 65.4 cm. Scale: 2,500 feet to 1 inch.
"Outline & Index Map of Hudson County, New Jersey." Lithograph map, with added color, 40 × 65.4 cm. Scale: 2,500 feet to 1 inch.

Dotted lines show the proposed extension of Jersey City streets into New York Bay. The word Meadows overlays Kearney Township (colored light orange) in two places. This region between the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers is today's Meadowlands, home of wetlands, landfills, and the Meadowlands Sports Complex. Since the time of the first Dutch settlers, the estuarine environment has suffered from various kinds of human intervention: draining, dredging, and waste disposal.

1834: Snake Hill, a noted eminence of Secaucas Island, in the marsh on Hackensack river, and a very prominent object from the road, between Jersey City and Newark. Its formation is of trap rock, on sandstone base [Gordon, p. 238].

2013: Snake Hill
2013: Snake Hill

2013: View of the Meadowlands across the Hackensack River from the top of Snake Hill, and a view of the hill from a distance. The diabase rock was formed by volcanic action more than 150 million years ago. Originally named for the preponderance of black snakes found there, the hill was renamed Laurel Hill in 1926 and is now part of the county's Laurel Hill Park recreation area. The site has a long and colorful history—as the home of Hudson County penal and charitable institutions, including a psychiatric hospital—but mining and blasting activities during the twentieth century have greatly reduced the breadth and height of the hill. Much of it was quarried for paving materials and to make room for the New Jersey Turnpike, which runs by the eastern side. Inspired by the protruding rock facing the Hackensack River as he passed by on a train in the 1890s, an advertising executive created the Prudential Insurance Company's
2013: View of the Meadowlands across the Hackensack River from the top of Snake Hill, and a view of the hill from a distance. The diabase rock was formed by volcanic action more than 150 million years ago. Originally named for the preponderance of black snakes found there, the hill was renamed Laurel Hill in 1926 and is now part of the county's Laurel Hill Park recreation area. The site has a long and colorful history—as the home of Hudson County penal and charitable institutions, including a psychiatric hospital—but mining and blasting activities during the twentieth century have greatly reduced the breadth and height of the hill. Much of it was quarried for paving materials and to make room for the New Jersey Turnpike, which runs by the eastern side. Inspired by the protruding rock facing the Hackensack River as he passed by on a train in the 1890s, an advertising executive created the Prudential Insurance Company's

◊ ◊ ◊

"Part of North Bergen Township." Lithograph map, with added color, 32.8 × 40.6 cm. Scale: 400 feet to 1 inch.
"Part of North Bergen Township." Lithograph map, with added color, 32.8 × 40.6 cm. Scale: 400 feet to 1 inch.

Horizontally across the map's middle, the Hackensack Plank Road parallels the track of the New Jersey Midland Railroad. Plank roads—dirt roadbeds covered with wooden planks—were developed in the nineteenth century to allow horse-drawn wagons to pass over soft or marshy ground without sinking. In New Jersey, the Hackensack, Paterson, and Newark Plank Roads were major arteries. (See Moore and Jones's Traveller's Directory [1802] description of "The Causeway," an earlier version of the concept, in the "Road Maps" subsection of "Historical Background Maps.") Bankrupted in 1875, the New Jersey Midland was sold and later consolidated with other railroads to form the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway.

◊ ◊ ◊

"City of Bayonne." Lithograph map, with added color, 39.7 × 32.6 cm. Scale: 1000 feet to 1 inch.
"City of Bayonne." Lithograph map, with added color, 39.7 × 32.6 cm. Scale: 1000 feet to 1 inch.

Bayonne is shown as a peninsula with two capes: Constable Hook on the east (right) and Bergen Point on the south (bottom). Over the years, large commercial piers, created by filling in the Jersey Flats, have expanded the city's breadth into Upper New York Bay.

2013: Bayonne Golf Club (on the Constable Hook peninsula). Opening in 2006, this exclusive Scottish-style links course sits on top of a former municipal landfill. It received more than 700,000 cubic yards of material from several harbor dredging projects. A historical marker rests nearby.
2013: Bayonne Golf Club (on the Constable Hook peninsula). Opening in 2006, this exclusive Scottish-style links course sits on top of a former municipal landfill. It received more than 700,000 cubic yards of material from several harbor dredging projects. A historical marker rests nearby.

Connecting Upper New York Bay and Newark Bay is the Kill von Krull, a tidal strait. Historically, this waterway has been crucial for marine traffic by providing access to Newark and other northeastern New Jersey ports and, thus, has required constant dredging and deepening.

2013: Bayonne Bridge across the Kill von Kull, linking Bayonne (right) and Staten Island (left). (This is the fifth-longest steel arch bridge in the world.) Near here on September 6, 1609, a five-man survey party in a small boat started back to the Half Moon, the ship commanded by Henry Hudson, after venturing many miles from its anchorage. Later, First Mate Robert Juet recorded in his journal: "The Lands they told us were as pleasant with Grasse and Flowers, and goodly Trees, as ever they had seene, and very sweet smells came from them."<sup>1</sup> This is probably the first recorded account of how "New Jersey" appeared to the first Europeans to get that close. Over four hundred years later, this tidewater channel has become a main thoroughfare of the Port of New York and New Jersey, where millions of tons of cargo pass annually.
2013: Bayonne Bridge across the Kill von Kull, linking Bayonne (right) and Staten Island (left). (This is the fifth-longest steel arch bridge in the world.) Near here on September 6, 1609, a five-man survey party in a small boat started back to the Half Moon, the ship commanded by Henry Hudson, after venturing many miles from its anchorage. Later, First Mate Robert Juet recorded in his journal: "The Lands they told us were as pleasant with Grasse and Flowers, and goodly Trees, as ever they had seene, and very sweet smells came from them."1 This is probably the first recorded account of how "New Jersey" appeared to the first Europeans to get that close. Over four hundred years later, this tidewater channel has become a main thoroughfare of the Port of New York and New Jersey, where millions of tons of cargo pass annually.


1 Robert Juet, Juet's Journal (1959), p. 29. As the boat slowly returned to the Half Moon, under sail and oars, the group had a chance encounter with natives in two large dugout canoes. John Colman, the only Englishman of the five, was killed when an arrow pierced his throat—thus, another first: the first European killed in "Jersey" waters.
Back to Top