A Look Into the History of Passaic, NJ

The car accident attorneys in Passaic, NJ, at Garden State Justice Group, would like to share the following about the area's history.


The Passaic area in New Jersey is located along the Passaic River, just ten miles north of Newark and twenty-two miles west of the Bronx, New York. Main Street runs through the town center, and New Jersey Route 21 runs along the east border.


The area was established in 1679 by Dutch settlers. Originally it was named Acquackanonk Township because it was inhabited by the Acquackanonk, a group from the Lenape tribe of Native Americans. The Dutch traders formed a Dutch Reformed congregation, one of the largest denominations spread over from the Netherlands. This would bring the Protestant denomination to the area, but other churches in the area include:

  • St. John's Lutheran Church
  • First Presbyterian of Passaic
  • St. John's Episcopal Church

The naming of the town would spark a dispute between Alfred Speer, owner of the city's first newspaper, and Judge Henry Simmons. Speer favored changing the name to Passaic Village, but Simmons desired to keep it the Village of Acquackanonk Landing. Although Simmons had the upper hand in the battle, Speers convinced the Post Office to go with Passaic Village. It was effective, and the area became an unincorporated village in 1869 and later a city in 1873.


In the 19th century, the area began its industrial growth. After the construction was finished on the Dundee Canal in 1861, the Dundee Dam provided the factories and mills through hydropower and water. Constructed by the Dundee Manufacturing Company, the dam was complete in 1833 and provided enough water for the canal. In 1857, water level changes would lead to the formation of Dundee Lake, located on the northeastern section of Passaic.

In addition to the canal, the introduction of railroads to the area would generate massive population growth. Between 1880 and 1890, the area's population would increase 99.4% and 113.2% from 1890 to 1900. One-tenth of the population would work in the many mills that were built alongside the canal. However, in 1926, the workers would spark a year-long strike against the textile industries due to wage cuts. Led by Albert Weisbord, more than 36,000 union workers would protest the unlivable wages. This strike, known as the 1926 Passaic Textile Strike, would not be resolved until 1927 and leave many workers unemployed.


An experiment at a Passaic television station would lead to the first transmission of television into homes in 1931. The DeForest Radio Corporation, donned the first television station to transmit successfully, was also the first to broadcast a film. The company's chief engineer, Allen B. DuMont, would go on to open the first commercial television network in the world in Passaic in 1946. The area would forever be known as "the Birthplace of Television."


Passaic's population was 69,781 in 2010. At least 39.81% of the population was born outside of the country. The racial breakdown of the area is the following:

  • 45.06% white
  • 10.64% African American
  • 71.02% Hispanic or Latino
  • 1.07% Native American
  • 4.36% Asian
  • 0.04% Pacific Islander
  • 33.37% other races
  • 5.47% two or more races

The area is home to the largest Orthodox Jewish communities in the state, with over 15,000 residents. There are more than twenty synagogues and Jewish businesses, including the following:

  • Congregation Sharay Tefiloh
  • Agudas Yisroel Bircas Yaakov of Passaic Park
  • K'hal Tiferes Boruch
  • Congregation Ahavas Israel

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Date Published: April 22, 2021
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