Journal Square . Marion . Little India . Bergen Hill . The Island . McGinley Square . Sparrow Hill . Hilltop . Western Slope . Bergen-Lafayette . Greenville . City Line . Lincoln Park . West Side . the Heights . 440 . Dog Patch . Hackensack River Waterfront . Country Village . West Bergen . Society Hill ... what did I leave out?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

That first yellow peg

View Uptown JC, Historically in a larger map

That first yellow peg on the Uptown Crew map represents Bergen Square, today the intersection of Bergen Avenue and Academy Street. Located a couple of blocks south of Journal Square, Bergen Square is the very spot where the first Dutch fort was built in 1650 by order of the Director General of the New Netherland colony, Peter Stuyvesant.

(Stuyvesant had his own peg, in place of the leg he lost in an attack on St. Martin while serving as governor of CuraƧao. Hence, his common nickname, Peg Leg Pete.)

This date and person and event do not represent the first activity in this area. When the Dutch ship Halve Maen sailed into the nearby harbor in 1609, this area was home to peoples whose agriculture, beliefs, rites and rituals, customs, clothing, food, lives - whose culture had been the human legacy of this rich land for thousands of years.

What we know today as Jersey City is founded on the elimination of that way of life. Stuyvesant's predecessor, Willem Kieft, had mismanaged the colony to the point of allowing a full scale massacre of the native camp at Pavonia on the eastern riverfront in the early 1640s, igniting a Dutch-Native war that lasted more than two years. Stuyvesant's establishment of the stockade and fort at Bergen Square was a direct response to the untenable situation he inherited in the colony.

To learn more about the New Netherland period (1609-1665),

- visit The New Netherland Project website at www.nnp.org

- read Island at the Center of the World, by Russell Shorto, Shorto's analysis of troves of documents from the New Netherland period discloses the earliest history of the European invasion and the impact of the Dutch culture on our own.

(A bronze statue of Peter Stuyvesant stood on the northeast corner of Bergen Square for one hundred years when, earlier in 2010, it was removed by agreement between the Jersey City Board of Education - it is the site of the Martin Luther King Jr. School - and Hudson Community College. According to local press coverage, it sits, covered by a tarp, its foundation demolished, on a flatbed truck somewhere on Tonnelle Avenue, awaiting removal to somewhere on Sip Avenue, which, we note, is not in Bergen Square.)

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