Deep into several research projects, including one exploring early Jersey City history, I’ve been leafing through books and jotting down notes at the New York Public Library or the Jersey City Free Public Library on many evenings and weekend afternoons.
While recently flipping through the pages of Old Bergen: History and Reminiscences, a 1902 history by Daniel Van Winkle, I happened upon an illustration of the Half Moon, Henry Hudson’s ship.
The Half Moon dropped anchor in the Hudson River near present-day Jersey City in 1609, marking the beginning of recorded history in Hudson County and Jersey City.
Today, a neglected bust of Henry Hudson in Riverview-Fisk Park stands as the sole local memorial to the explorer. Since the sculpture lacks a marker or plaque, many passersby mistake the figure with the ruffled collar for William Shakespeare. I know that I did. (After publishing this post, a reader informed me that a restoration of this monument will be included in a full park rehabilitation slated to begin in the coming year.)
Jersey City has over four hundred years of history (not including Native American history). Why don’t we respect it? Why don’t we celebrate it? Jersey City is experiencing record development and investment. Our history should belong to that process. Instead, history barely merits a consideration.