Early 1900's
A New Town Emerges 

At the turn of the century , there was no town or borough specifically called "Paramus".  There was only Midland Township, which had been formed in 1871, but which had rapidly dwindled in size and population as sections of it broke away to establish their own towns. At this point, only Paramus and Rochelle Park remained. 

Before . . .

By the 1920's, Rochelle Park was becoming a settled suburb, bordering, as it did, the more metropolitan Hackensack. Paramus, however,  was still a rural area with some 1600 residents, in 1922.

Schools were the issue that broke up Midland Township and caused Paramus to separate from Rochelle Park. Residents in Rochelle Park wanted to consolidate the schools into one big school in Rochelle Park. That would have meant a lengthy commute for Paramus students.

 


Residents of Rochelle Park, on the other hand, gave another reason for the separation. They blamed a proposal to install lights on the streets of Rochelle Park, toward which the Paramus farmers did not wish to pay taxes, for the disagreement.

   The Split - 1922 

On April 4, 1922, by a vote of 238 for, 10 against,
 Paramus became its own borough. 

And After . . .

Fire companies had existed a long time in the township, but they received official recognition in 1923 by the newly created borough of Paramus. Paramus' Fire department currently has 50 fire fighters.

 

Fire Co. 1, organized in December 1922, was the last to start but the first one to be recognized.  Fire Co. 2, the Spring Valley company, was the first "bucket brigade" in 1904.  According to Henry Behnke, (who is one of the founders of this company) , a rash of burned barns prompted the formation of the company.     

In its first full year, as a borough, Paramus settled the school location problem by building two identical  four-room schoolhouses: one on Farview Avenue and the other on Midland Avenue  ( called Cow Lane, at the time.)  

The older 1876 Midland Avenue School became the borough hall. Later on it served as the police station and at present still serves as a branch library.

Paramus Police Department

The first borough police chief, Barney Martin, was the only man in the police department.  Martin was on duty 24 hours a day and drove an Indian motorcycle.   

In 1928 the borough purchased its first police car.  The police headquarters at that time was the front porch of Chief Martinís home on Paramus Road near Midland Avenue. 

 

Paramus Public Library

Since 1955 the Paramus Library has been a place where students have come, not only to learn, but also to have fun! Believe it or not, the Paramus Library was originally a garage on the Howland estate. It was remodeled to be the first public library in Paramus, and was first located at the corner of Howland Avenue and Spring Valley. 

On October 1955, the association purchased the bottom of Midland Avenue Schoolhouse, and the library was expanded by 1958. By 1964, a new library was built on Century Road. It is named after Charles Reid, who was voted the Outstanding Library Trustee In the US in 1966. Even today, the library is still growing in new ways.

The Paramus Post Office was the 2nd post office established in Bergen County. James H. Conrad ran the post office between 1899 to 1902 on the corner of Spring Valley and Howland Avenue. The Post Office was closed the following year due to lack of people.

For the next 50 years, the people in Paramus had to mail their letters in the surrounding towns, such as Hackensack and Ridgewood. Finally, in 1950, a new post office was opened.

A number of Paramus landmarks were constructed or developed in the early 1900s.

Bergen Pines

Bergen County Alms House

Mt. St. Andrews

Arcola Amusement Park
In 1926, three years after Midland Township was subdivided, an amusement park was built along the Hudson River trolley line in the Arcola section of Rochelle Park / Paramus.  

Arcola Park stretched across twenty acres and featured all types of attractions such as the whip, roller coaster, carousel, Ferris wheel, a huge swimming pool, a dance pavilion, an auditorium, and an convention hall. (above left) 

The amusement park was short-lived; a fire in 1929 destroyed everything but the swimming pool. 

The pool continued to operate for forty years under the name "Arcola Pool and Swim Club."  It was later destroyed by fire in 1970. The property was then sold to the Ramada Inn and that building still exists.  

Changes in the Air . . .

The Trautwein Farm, which was located next to Arcola Park, was turned into an airport. Louise Klenk, a long-time resident flier, pilot, and mechanic, flew. There was a flying circus, where spectators could see loop-the-loops, wing-walking, and barrel rolls, and even be taken for rides.  

Klenk even took Wally Schirra, the astronaut who grew up in Oradell, for his first airplane ride. Unfortunately, the airport closed during the Depression in the early 1930's for lack of money.  

 

The 1930's - The Great Depression
============================================

The Depression of the early 1930's seemed less severe here than in many other parts of the country. Perhaps it was because food was so easily raised and most farms were fairly self sufficient. In fact, during the 1930's Paramus' population went up almost 40 percent, from 2,649 residents in 1930 to 3,688 in 1940. By contrast, the population in  Bergen County overall increased 12 percent and in the state of New Jersey just under three percent.

The Great Depression left its mark on Paramus in other ways though.  The New Deal spurred the Public Works Administration to build highways across the nation.  Highways 4 and 17 were a result of government projects before and during the New Deal.

But In 1931 something happened that changed the face of Paramus, and the rest of Bergen County, for good; the George Washington Bridge opened. Now that there was an easy way to get in and out of NYC, people flocked to Bergen County looking for a better - and less expensive - place to live. This set the stage for the rapid development that was yet to come. People could now commute to cities.


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