The Growth of Mahwah

In the sense of an incorporated town, Mahwah as we know it today has only been around since it was created from the remains of Hohokus Township in 1944. It was at that time the neighborhoods of Fardale, Masonicus, Mahwah, The Valley, and Darlington coalesced into the greater entity known now as Mahwah Township. (Greene, 228.)

The period I will be focusing on for this project is 1861-Present. The reason why I chose this time period lays in a number of reasons. The first of these reasons are the maps that I have been working with. Prior to the 1861 Map of Bergen and Passaic Counties from the Library of Congress, the maps I have come across from earlier time periods have two issues: lack of focus on the Mahwah area or a lack of detail. While the first issue is seemingly the most obvious for why these maps were not used, those that did focus on Mahwah had very little detail to work off of. I wanted to have a good base map to start off with, where I could really see one area growing out of a previous section. The 1861 map provided that much needed baseline I was looking for: well drawn out boundaries, roads, and names of property owners that showed where people had settled. From here, I could start comparing one map to the next and figure out where and why new neighborhoods popped up.

Another reason for focusing from the 1861 map until present time is the creation and inclusion of transportation technology in the everyday life of a town, state, and country’s citizens. Horses and carriages gave way to the metal steeds of the railroads that were more powerful and exponentially speedier than their fair maned transportation counterparts. By 1848, train tracks had spread into Northern New Jersey and a rail line was completed that would connect Mahwah to New York City. A few decades later, Mahwah would be one of the final stops on the trolley from Paterson to Suffern. These two people movers would not only make it easier for those already living in Mahwah to get in and out of the city with ease, it would also open up the town to anyone that wanted to work in New York City, but escape the hustle and bustle once the workday concluded. In a matter of decades, Mahwah went from being home to a majority of its residents being farmers, to being a commuter community home to “bankers, lawyers, inventors, [professors], [and] artists.”

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