Hackensack’s name honors the “Sagamore of Hacquinsacq,” Lenni Lenape Chief Oratam, born in 1577, who deeded the land to early settlers in 1664.
The town was first settled as a trading post by the Dutch in 1639, later occupied by the French Huguenots, and, in 1688, by the British. At that time it was known as the township of New Barbadoes. In 1921, by referendum vote, Hackensack received its charter under its present name.
A strategic point during the American Revolution, Hackensack was a small village centered around The Green. Washington headquartered here in November 1776 while he surveyed the local roads and bridges. On November 20, 1776, he led his army into Hackensack. It camped on The Green as he made the important decision to continue the retreat from overwhelming British and Hessian forces. This prepared the way for the first American victory of the Revolution the following month at the Battle of Trenton.
At The Green is the statue of General Enoch Poor, one of Washington’s officers, who died in September 1780. He was buried in the adjoining cemetery of the Dutch Reformed Church. The church, initially built in 1696 and rebuilt in 1791, is the oldest in Bergen County and the second oldest in New Jersey.
Hackensack is the seat of Bergen County in northeastern New Jersey, occupying 4.6 square miles. The elevation is from three feet to 120 feet above sea level. From a number of locations, one can see the New York City skyline, seven miles to the east.
Prior to being settled by the Dutch in 1693, Hackensack was home to the thriving Lenni Lenape Indian community that lived and prospered along the banks of the Hackensack River.
Bergen County was inhabited by the Achkinheshcky tribe, from which “Hackensack” was eventually derived. Hackensack means “mouth of a river.” The “Hackensacks” formed villages, each one practicing and serving as its own government. Interestingly enough, these villages practiced a democracy, where all members of the tribe were involved in the decision-making.
Once the Dutch arrived in Bergen County, they began to build the area into a permanent settlement they named Bergen. Through their dealings with the Chief of Hackensack, Oratam, the Dutch could live harmoniously with the Indians. By the mid-1600s, the British began to arrive in the Hackensack area. From then until the Revolutionary War’s end in 1783, Hackensack was an area of unrest.
Upon the War’s end, Hackensack residents began organizing themselves into a functioning government.
Bergen County Historic Site Survey
First Inter-County Transportation System Formed
Establishment of School System
Northern Valley Railroad Established
First Fire Department Formed
First Police Department Formed