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  • Sue Tryforos


It is easy to look at Bergen County today and see a thoroughly modern, bustling area but it wasn't too long ago, historically speaking, that this corner of New Jersey was in truth a sleepy backwater. The early Dutch settlers of the area migrated from New Amsterdam in the 1700s; these new residents were primarily farmers, drawn by the lush, rich soil found hereabouts. The population was sparse and spread-out, and government was provided by a township system rather than by towns. The townships set up rural, one-room schools for the area's children. In 1875, a law was passed to stiffen attendance requirements to a mandatory 12 weeks of schooling per year for every child aged 5 through 17; this recognition of the importance of education still allowed the children time off from their studies to help with planting and harvesting seasons since they were a large part of the farming economy.

These bucolic, isolated conditions began to change with the turn of the 20th century when developers and speculators started to promote the area as a healthful, convenient place to live. The railroads were a big part of this. Previously used primarily for shipping freight, new station buildings opened up the area to the idea of commuting, allowing people to live in one place and work in another. Glen Rock's Main Line Station (pictured at left) was built in 1905, and railroad executives were quick to realize the potential here. Several Erie Railroad bigwigs formed the Star Eagle Company and started to buy up surplus land from Glen Rock farmers, who were also quick to realize the easy profit from unused fields.

The Glen Rock Historical & Preservation Society has a small brochure in our archives. This 12-page booklet, "The Deepest Secret of Success" in unattributed but I believe it was a promotional piece sent out by the Star Eagle Company. The Star Eagle Company wound up selling their lands to other developers - including to the Smith-Singer Company, which soon became Glen Rock's premier builder and promoter - but the excitement in this early piece is palpable. Read below to see how it would have felt to get in "on the ground floor".

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