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Jersey City is a city in Northern New Jersey and the seat of Hudson County. It lies between the Hudson River and Upper New York Bay across from Lower Manhattan and the Hackensack River and Newark Bay. The city is governed by a council of Aldermen led by a Mayor. Democrat Frank Hague is both the Mayor and racketeering boss of Jersey City. In 1920 Jersey City had a population of 298,103 people.
The land comprising what is now Jersey City was inhabited by the Lenape, a collection of tribes (later called Delaware Indian). In 1609, Henry Hudson, seeking an alternate route to East Asia, anchored his small vessel Halve Maen (English: Half Moon) at Sandy Hook, Harsimus Cove and Weehawken Cove, and elsewhere along what was later named the North River. After spending nine days surveying the area and meeting its inhabitants, he sailed as far north as Albany. By 1621 the Dutch West India Company was organized to manage this new territory and in June 1623, New Netherland became a Dutch province, with headquarters in New Amsterdam. Michael Reyniersz Pauw received a land grant as patroon on the condition that he would establish a settlement of not fewer than fifty persons within four years. He chose the west bank of the North River (Hudson River) and purchased the land from the Lenape. This grant is dated November 22, 1630 and is the earliest known conveyance for what are now Hoboken and Jersey City. Pauw, however was an absentee landlord who neglected to populate the area and was obliged to sell his holdings back to the Company in 1633. That year, a house was built at Communipaw for Jan Evertsen Bout, superintendent of the colony, which had been named Pavonia (the Latinized form of Pauw's name, which means peacock). Shortly after, another house was built at Harsimus Cove and became the home of Cornelius Van Vorst, who had succeeded Bout as superintendent, and whose family would become influential in the development of the city. Relations with the Lenape deteriorated, in part because of the colonialist's mismanagement and misunderstanding of the indigenous people, and led to series of raids and reprisals and the virtual destruction of the settlement on the west bank. During Kieft's War, approximately eighty Lenapes were killed by the Dutch in a massacre at Pavonia on the night of February 25, 1643.
Scattered communities of farmsteads characterized the Dutch settlements at Pavonia: Communipaw, Harsimus, Paulus Hook, Hoebuck, Awiehaken, and other lands "behind Kil van Kull". The first village (located inside a palisaded garrison) established on what is now Bergen Square in 1660, and is considered to be the oldest town in what would become the state of New Jersey.
Among the oldest surviving houses in Jersey City is the stone Van Wagenen House of 1742. During the American Revolutionary War the area was in the hands of the British who controlled New York. Paulus Hook was attacked by Major Light Horse Harry Lee on August 19, 1779. After the war Alexander Hamilton and other prominent New Yorkers and New Jerseyeans attempted to develop the area that would become historic downtown Jersey City and laid out the city squares and streets that still characterize the neighborhood, giving them names also seen in Lower Manhattan or after war heroes (Grove, Varick, Mercer, Wayne, Monmouth, and Montgomery among them). During the 19th century, 60,000 former slaves reached Jersey City on one of the four routes of the Underground Railroad that led to the city.
The City of Jersey was incorporated by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on January 28, 1820, from portions of Bergen Township, while the area was still a part of Bergen County. The city was reincorporated on January 23, 1829, and again on February 22, 1838, at which time it became completely independent of North Bergen and was given its present name. On February 22, 1840, it became part of the newly created Hudson County.
Soon after the Civil War, the idea of uniting all of the towns of Hudson County east of the Hackensack River into one municipality. A bill was approved by the State legislature on April 2, 1869, a special held October 5, 1869. An element of the bill provide that only contiguous towns could be consolidated. While a majority of the voters approved the merger, only Jersey City, Hudson City and Bergen City could be consolidated, which they did on March 17, 1870. Three years later the present outline of Jersey City was completed when Greenville agreed to merge into the Greater Jersey City.
Jersey City was a dock and manufacturing town for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. Much like New York City, Jersey City has always been a destination for new immigrants to the United States. In its heyday before World War II, German, Irish, and Italian immigrants found work at Colgate, Chloro, or Dixon Ticonderoga. However, the largest employers at the time were the railroads, whose national networks terminated on the Hudson River at Pavonia Terminal, Exchange Place and Communipaw. The Hudson Tubes opened in 1911, allowing passengers to take the train to Manhattan as an alternative to the extensive ferry system. The Black Tom explosion occurred on July 30, 1916 as an act of sabotage on American ammunition supplies by German agents to prevent the materials from being used by the Allies in World War I.
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