Hello Ed from Virginia, do I have news for you. You evidently haven’t been to Hackensack in a very very long time. Many many decades.
I’m 41 and have lived here my life. I never saw the house to the left of the church. That’s been a parking lot for as long as I can remember. “The Warner”, once an upscale bed-and-breakfast hotel, deteriorated into a drug-ridden inner city boarding house. The Warner House was absolutely hell-on-earth in the 1970’s, you would be afraid just to walk by it. In the late 1980’s, the County of Bergen purchased it and the house next door and spent several hundred thousand dollars renovating them. They have been restored and now serve as residences for otherwise homeless persons. It’s an improvement over the boarding houses, I guess.
Your former house, 275 State Street, was leveled in 2004. An 8-story luxury condominium was erected, complete with underground parking. The units are for sale now. The Main Street business district has really declined, and most of the quality stores are gone. Prozy's was the last of the great stores, it closed in 2005. The residential character of State Street is heavily office buildings and commercial, but Union Street still has some homes. Park Street is half homes, half apartments and condominiums. All the wealth and class of the neighborhood that you remember has gone to the hill, to the northern parts of the city, or out of the city entirely.
However, the new condo at 275 State Street is touted as the great hope for the future that will turn the neighborhood around and restore prosperity to the downtown area. Thus you should not dismay that your house was leveled. Your address is the key to the future. Please provide us a picture of your house, to post online.
A large estate to the rear of the church (owned by a life-long member who you surely know) was donated to the church when she died as an elderly woman in the 1970’s. They tore it down and built “The Holley Center”, which is a facility for orphaned and abandoned and emotionally disturbed children. Across Union Street from the Holley Center is a row of very old boarding houses. The NW corner of State and Clay Streets is now a one-story liquor store called “Simon Sez” with a large parking lot. When it opened in the 1970’s it immediately brought down the neighborhood. It caters to a clientele that walk up and down Clay Street from State Street to First Street, loitering, throwing beer bottles, and making trouble. Around 1997-1998, there was an unsuccessful effort by a neighborhood group and the police to shut it down. In 1997, I lived in a 6-story condo at 300 Park Street (formerly the site of the Gateway Christian School), and I worked on that effort. We were successful in forcing the sale of 3 overcrowded and severaly dilapidated houses on Park Street owned by outside investors (#'s 347, 351, and 355), and they were fully renovated. This helped turn Park Street around.
Christ church is now the city’s leading social activist congregation. I’m sure you are aware of the well-publicized national rift within the Episcopal denomination on social issues. Hackensack’s Christ Church is far on the left side of that rift. Christ Episcopal has been the leading force bringing many homeless shelters and homeless people into the city. They are now hundreds. They run a shelter there called “Peter’s Place”, which caters to the homeless that are so unruly and troublesome that they are evicted from county-run facilities. Christ Church has generally been at odds with the city administration for about 15 years due to the homeless issue.
Hackensack is a unique city of about 43,500 people (2000 census). That’s right, 43,500, and no bigger in land area than you remember. The city is about 30% Latino - if you haven’t been here in decades, that will surprise you. Hackensack just elected our first black mayor in 2005. Marlin Townes is a good family-oriented guy, he’s friendly, intelligent, concerned, low-key, and he works to build a consensus on all issues. He’s quite popular among all residents here.
Parts of the city are affluent, other parts middle-class, and other parts poor. The terrain and character of the city varies greatly from block to block in ways that you cannot imagine. Prospect and Overlook Avenues is the most densely populated street, all luxury high-rises 15-25 stories, but Summit Ave is all homes. The hospital is now bigger and denser than you can possibly imagine. Whatever you are thinking, multiply it by ten and then add five 6–story parking towers. It looks like something from Manhattan.
If you have more old pic’s of Hackensack, please provide.