I have read old accounts of the 1895 Tornado, which struck on July 13, 1895. The event is referred to in weather history as “The Cherry Hill Tornado”. Sources indicate that the the tornado started in Warwick (which at that time may have been a larger township), so unsure exactly what town. It narrowly missing Ridgewood and the village of Spring Valley. Spring Valley is in Paramus generally along Spring Valley Road in the vicinity of Forest Avenue and stretching south. The tornado largely destroyed the village of Cherry Hill. Cherry Hill is now the southern end of River Edge smack along the border of Hackensack. There are many office buildings there and the vacant Hoffman Koos. The historic accounts also reference a second funnel that simultaneously touched down in the Fairmount Section of Hackensack.
The main tornado then crossed the NE tip of Hackensack. Accounts refer to damage to farmland and fences in this area. It then crossed the Hackensack River and struck the sprawling Phelps estate in West Englewood. It sailed over the Palisades cliffs, and touched down in Harlem and again on Long Island. Several people were killed in Cherry Hill, and others hospitalized. Many houses and other buildings destroyed. There was one death on Long Island. Newspaper accounts vividly detail the death of Mr.Friedman of Cherry Hill. A witness to the storm saw Friedman thrown out of a window of the hotel he owned, and killed.
The devastation was so complete that the realtors decided to rename the village "North Hackensack" because the name of Cherry Hill was widely associated with the natural disaster. I think that Cherry Hill was part of Midland Township (Paramus, Maywood, River Edge, western Oradell) at that time, but this needs to be confirmed. I’m not sure of the date that Midland Township seceded from New Barbadoes Township (Hackensack).
Places of the City of Hackensack that were struck by the massive tornado are now heavily developed. They include Route 4, Continental Plaza, Riverside Square, and possibly the vicinity of the Coach House diner. There may (or may not) have been houses in Hackensack at the very northern end of Johnson Avenue that were impacted. Kinderkamack Avenue did not exist at that time south of what is now the New Bridge Train Station.
This weather event would today be called classified as a tornado swarm descending from a single rotating supercell-type of thunderstorm. Based on the total destruction of homes, this twister was at least an F3 on the Fujita scale (1 to 5, with 5 being the most severe). Certainly not an F1, which account for most tornados in NJ. I think that hundreds of people would die, and billions dollars in damage would occur, if a tornado of the same intensity ran the same path of destruction today. A huge swath from Paramus through Teaneck would look like the gulf coast of Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.
I am copying pages from a history book on this tornado and will give it to Albert Dib to post. Every newspaper in the NY metro area carried the story either on July 14 or 15, 1895, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find more documentation. There are probably magazine accounts as well. The Bergen County Historical Society also maintains a collection of photos from the destruction.