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Made in Harrison The Beehive of Industry

Apr 17, 2022

“The Beehive of Industry” has been the Town of Harrison’s motto since 1912.  One Hundred and Ten Years later, the trademark continues to be fondly thought of.  The Town of Harrison lived up to its trademark.  The Southern part of Harrison starting at what is now the Harrison Plaza or as some call it the Quick Check Plaza and extending to the Jackson Street bridge attracted entrepreneurs who set up companies that changed the world. 

At the height of World War II, Harrison’s industrial companies operated 24 / 7 with three shifts to support the troops serving the United States, Britain, and Russia in their joint effort to stop the Nazi Third Reich.  Crucible Steel in the area between Cape May Street and South Frank E. Rodgers Blvd made munitions and steel plate that was then sent overseas in the war effort in many forms including tanks and airplanes. 

The influx of workers into Harrison during this time was a boom for local businesses and resulted in the Town having a bar on every corner.  The bars were much more than just a place to get a beer.  The bars were also a place to get something to eat after a long day or night at work.  These were not office jobs.  These were heavy industrial jobs.

The foundation of what would become the computer or smartphone you are viewing this article on was also invented and perfected in Harrison.  The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was founded in Harrison at what is now the Harrison Plaza mini-mall and stretched into several buildings adjacent to it and east of the mall area.  One of its buildings was recently taken down under some environmental supervision due to mercury contamination.  Television tubes were made in that building and they contained mercury at one time.  RCA made communication radios for the war effort and those were powered by RCA vacuum tubes which in the 1970s became transistors that then became computer chips.  The rich history of RCA and its contributions to technology has many parallels to the contributions made in Silicon Valley in California.

So who came up with Harrison’s “Beehive of Industry” motto? 

In 1912, United States President William Howard Taft visited New York City and was supposed to make a stop in Newark, NJ to address the Board of Trade of the City of Newark.  President Taft was convinced to take a pitstop in neighboring Harrison.  When President Taft arrived, he was met by a group of businesses owners and the then Mayor of Harrison Joseph P. Riordan.  President Taft was taken for a tour of Harrison in an open car provided by one of the business owners   Businesses owners decorated their storefronts and buildings along Harrison Avenue and residents and children lined the avenue.  The welcome impressed President Taft and the tour of various companies in what is now SOHA led President Taft to make the statement that “Harrison was a hive of industry whose citizens I am sure are all law-abiding”. 

Several business owners thought the President was being sarcastic with his latter comment but that the “hive of industry” quote was an excellent complement and adopted it putting it into their letterheads.  Letterhead printers then started soliciting other businesses to renew their letterhead as well. 

Then-Mayor Riordan and the Town Council soon took notice and passed a resolution to adopt the official slogan of the community.  Someone suggested that it be amended slightly to “The Beehive of Industry” and create a logo to go along with it. 

The then Town Clerk, Peter J. Goodman, sent out a letter to business owners and civic leaders as follows:

For the purpose of fittingly advertising the Town of Harrison, and believing they will be of mutual benefit, the Mayor and Common Council have approved of the ‘Publicity Seals’, copies of which are shown herewith, and the officials named earnestly request that you use them on your stationery.

Enhancing the fame of Harrison means the bringing of more people and new industries to the Town.  This will benefit your concern by providing a greater number and variety of operatives from whom to choose your employees.  Every manufacturer appreciates this advantage.

Then, too, each new industry will mean another to share the tax burden, now small as compared with other communities, but which will be more lightly borne as the ratables increase, So, too, an increase in population means to merchants more buyers and more business.  With the added tax revenue the Council will be justified in still further providing the town without unreasonable expense.

Harrison is a town which should be better appreciated.  It has well paved, exceptionally lighted, and sewered streets; it has an admirable high pressure water supply; it has an exceedingly efficient fire department and enjoys an insurance rate as low as that of Newark, the metropolis of New Jersey; is well policed and orderly.

Harrison has public, high, and parochial schools, churches of all denominations; a public library, freight and passenger accommodation by Eire, Lackawanna, and Pennsylvania Railroads, the latter having the ‘Manhattan Transfer’, its great eastern terminal, located in the town.  The town has a beautiful park and excellent gas, telephone, and streetcar service.  Power and light are cheap, gas being $1 per 1,000 cubic feet and electricity 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.  Another advantage is frequent collection and distribution of mail.

Harrison is on the eastern bank of the Passaic River, for the further dredging of whose deep channel Congress is to appropriate another $150,000.  It adjoins Newark and is but 8 miles from New York [City], which is easily reached by train and trolley.  Harrison has population of 15,000, ample banking and trust company facilities and a diversity of industries unmatched by any other town of even double the number of inhabitants in the United States.  Its products supply the world.  Attesting the thrift of the people are the many building and loan associations, one being worth $1,500,000

Get seals free from the Town Clerk.  Stamp your goods “Made in Harrison” and let everybody boost our town as the real 'Hive of Industry'". [end of quote]

Harrison's "Beehive of Industry" Seal was updated for the Town of Harrison's 175th Anniversary.  Although the new Town Seal was changed to reflect a redevelopment that has occurred in the Town's industrial area, it kept as part of the Seal the "Beehive of Industry." Read the article Zheng accepts Millan's Challenge, Designs Harrison's 175th Anniversary Seal

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