Author Topic: Main St. Memories  (Read 4956 times)

Offline BLeafe

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Main St. Memories
« on: February 01, 2006, 05:11:14 PM »
I used to cruise the drag from about 1964-1969 and remember when it was PACKED on Thursday nights from the court house to Sears and beyond, with many cars having New York plates. Generally, we'd make a bunch of orbits (two-way street then) between the library and the court house and after every dozen or so, it was time to go to McDonald's in River Edge. This process was repeated over and over, finally ending with my friends finishing the evening by hanging out at the Fairmount Diner (Fran the waitress!). Of course, we wore our Nicky Newark jackets from Kartch's.

I had (among others) a jacked-up, customized '63 Grand Prix with a name painted on the sides of the front quarters ("Prix-fection") AND a '64 Chevy Impala Super Sport at the same time.

One night, a Hackensack cop stopped me for a loud glasspack muffler on the Prix and yelled that he "didn't want to see this car on Main St again tonight". "Yes sir, officer", as I went home and came back with the Super Sport and smiled at the cop.

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Re: Main St. Memories
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2006, 06:56:43 PM »
Im trying to create a time-line recording when and where the in spot was for teens and young adults. So, if anyone can provide more information, please do.

Most of the accounts I've heard or read indicate that Hackensacks Main Street remained the in spots for the teens and young adults of Bergen County for over 15 years AFTER the Bergen Mall and the Garden State Plaza opened as open-air shopping malls. Those were the first two malls, and they opened in the mid-1950s. 

I think 1971 was the watershed year. Thats the year that the Bergen Mall reopened as a newly enclosed shopping mall, and that was the same year that saw the closing of Arnold Constable, a major department store located at Main & Passaic Streets. Those two events were a harbinger of the future.  I was a young kid in 1971, and I recall that when the Bergen Mall reopened, and was absolutely mobbed with shoppers, teens, and young adults. I think all the hanging out shifted from Main Street to the Bergen Mall in 1971.  The Bergen Mall was only the in spot for 3 years, and then all the action shifted to Paramus Park, which opened in 1974. The Garden State Plaza was virtually a ghost town until sometime around 1984 when it was enclosed. Then it became the main spot to hang out.  It maintains that distinction after over 20 years. Next will be Xanadu when it opens.

But what really killed Main Street was the decline of the surrounding neighborhoods, a problem which also peaked in 1971. In fact, this whole country was going down the toilet in 1971.

As history is written, people should not look at the decline of Main Street in a vacuum, the decline there was directly related to what was happening to the neighborhoods all around it. There was also a lot of urban decline of the neighborhoods near the downtown in the early 1970s. The vicinity of Fair and Kansas Street was considered a major trouble spot, in particular the two neighborhood bars at that intersection (both are now gone). So rapid was the movement of families out of the neighborhood that Temple Beth-El and the Methodist Church (neighbors on State Street) both moved to the same neighborhood on Summit Avenue. The entire neighborhood once called Little Dublin in the vicinity of Union & Lawrence Street was in exodus. A few families moved to the Fairmount Section, but most left Hackensack entirely. Lawrence Street in particular was in pure chaos, and the city was considering leveling the entire western block of Lawrence Street. A huge abandoned and dilapidated Victorian House at Union & Myer Street (visible squarely from the length of Union Street looking south) seemed to symbolize the sense of hopelessness of the area. Fears of decline took root on Park Street, and when the Simon Sez liquor store opened up at State & Clay Streets, there was immediately so much loitering and trouble that the entire neighborhood from Park Street to State Street was considered lost. The only neighborhood near downtown that remaining strong in the early 1970s was the apartments around Anderson Park, but that was only for a few more years. The early 1970s also saw the explosion of luxury high-rises on Prospect Avenue, and people all across Bergen County were convinced that all the prosperity of Hackensack was shifting from Main Street to the hill. Plans were afoot to build the Riverside Square at the same time.

Its important to talk about this because there are clues in the lessons of history as to how to recover. MAIN STREET WAS STRONG WHEN THE NEIGHBORHOODS AROUND IT WERE STRONG.

We are now rebuilding the neighborhoods around Main Street with luxury condominiums.  The Union Street/State Street neighborhood is rapidly improving and approaching critical mass, but a few more good size buildings need to be built along the State Street corridor. Its not quite there. The new shoppers parking lot at State & Berry is a waste of land that could otherwise become a condo project / ratable. The 90 condos planned at 94 State Street might bring about the CRITICAL MASS OF PROSPERITY. Once this is achieved, the whole area will be perceived as upscale. Private section investment will flood onto Main Street in order to serve the new clientele. There will be more restaurants, quirky little shops, and eventually upscale shopping.

There is a future for Main Street, and we have to keep on course.

Offline midniteangel

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Re: Main St. Memories
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2006, 06:03:08 PM »
Ahhhhhh Main St...i walked it back and forth from 62 to 66...Hung at Sonnys Lunchnette and Whelans...Does anyone remember Arnold Constable? I went to McDonalds in Riveredge all the time...there was a guy that had a Falcon with a cobra engine and Baby Tourque written on the side...awesome car!!!!
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