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Industrial Harrison

Feb 04, 2022

The Town of Harrison, NJ was founded in 1840. The 1.2-square-mile town is in Hudson County close to New York City, Newark, and Newark Liberty International Airport.

It quickly became an industrial center because of its favorable location, situated near major rail facilities and possessing a large waterfront that made the town suitable for trade. President William Howard Taft visited Harrison in 1912 during his re-election campaign. During his speech he told the crowds, "You have reason to be proud of this Hive of Industry," coining the town's motto as the "Beehive of Industry."'

Most of the manufacturing activity took place in the southern third of the town's borders, close to the Passaic River. Some of the companies located in Harrison included Edison Lamp Works, Worthington Pump and Machinery, the RCA Company, the Peter Hauck Brewery, Driver-Harris Company, Otis Elevator, Hartz Mountain, Nopco Chemical, and Hyatt Roller Bearing. Production in Harrison reached a peak during World War II. The town had only about 14,000 residents, but 90,000 workers commuting in daily.'

Most of Harrison's industry had moved out by the 1960s. Between the mid-1970s to the 1990s, the town lost over $150 million in property tax income.2 Harrison's industrial area was very quickly becoming unused and deteriorating.

Source: JMCroon (Columbia University)