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 were able to live harmoniously with the Indians. By the mid-1600’s, 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.

Historic Slideshows

Some noteworthy points in history are:

  1. 1896: First police department formed
  2. 1871: First fire department formed
  3. 1769: Establishment of school system
  4. 1764: First inter-county transportation system formed
  5. 1850: Northern Valley Railroad established
  6. 1900’s: Numerous manufacturing companies established
  7. 1931: George Washington Bridge opened
  8. 1990’s: Flood and redevelopment plans begin area’s overhaul

Books Online

The City of Hackensack published a 300th anniversary history book in 1993. The book is entitled Hackensack: Three Centuries of Prosperity.  A scanned copy is available here.  Please be patient while downloading this 70 megabyte .pdf file.

Hackensack History from 1609-1976