December 14, 2021
3 Things to Know About The James Hometown Park Ridge New JerseyOf course, living in Park Ridge, New Jersey, also means you’re living in a place rich with history and culture.
Here are three things to know about the history of Park Ridge, New Jersey.
Park Ridge and ‘Boroughitis’
Before Park Ridge was Park Ridge, it was actually a part of Washington Township. But by the late 1800s, New Jersey found itself suffering from a bout of what was called Boroughitis, a time around the 1890s when a large number of small boroughs were created, usually by referendum, as a way to reform the local governments and school systems of the time, especially in Bergen County.
At the time, Bergen County was seeing a large uptick in commuters who wanted more government services for new developments along the county’s railroads. This gave birth to the idea to form new boroughs in the county. Between 1894 and 1895, 40 new boroughs were formed across New Jersey.
The Last Wampum Drill
Although The Smithsonian has sought to acquire the last-of-its-kind relic housed in Park Ridge’s Pascack Historical Society Museum, the world’s only remaining wampum drilling machine is, for now, staying put in the town where it was invented.
In the late 18th century, John W. Campbell of Closter found a second job, as many farmers of his day did, crafting wampum — beaded garments that Native Americans wore and would trade for. Before Europeans arrived, Native Americans crafted and sold wampum among themselves but producing the pieces by boring into hard shell underground was a very slow task. Campbell and his brother soon leased and eventually built mills where wampum would be produced. The brothers even hid their drills on the second floor of their mills for some time in order to hide the invention that hadn’t been patented from potential competitors.
But by the 19th century, wampum was regarded as one of the largest industries in Bergen County.
Celebrities Choose Park Ridge
Of course, Park Ridge is also home to some of the most famous residents in New Jersey.
The James itself is named after none other than legendary actor James Gandolfini who grew up here in Park Ridge. But Gandolfini isn’t the only celebrity who lived in Park Ridge.
President Richard Nixon and his wife Pat, along with former New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin and a long list of celebrities have chosen to live in our borough. Tom Papa, comedian, Stephanie Ruhle of MSNBC and Matt Turner of the New England Revolution each call Park Ridge home.