The Weehawken Historical Commission continues to celebrate Weehawken’s 150th Anniversary with free-of-charge walking tours around town, including historical sites.
The tours have lured former residents as well as locals. A reunion class from the Weehawken High School class of 1963 and local elementary schools gathered recently for their yearly “mini-reunion” on one of these tours.
Tour participants were able to enter Weehawken’s famous water tower.
On a recent tour on Oct. 10, Laura Sherman, president of the historical commission, and Willie Demontreux, a captain in the North Hudson Regional Fire Department and member of the commission, took visitors to the site of the famous 1804 duel between Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton, and Vice President Aaron Burr.
Although dueling was banned at the time, many people would cross the river from New York and come to Weehawken to duel because they were less likely to get caught there.
Hamilton died of gunshot wounds the next day.
Tourists have visited the site over the years, and in 2004, a re-enactment took place there.
Participants in the Oct. 10 tour started at the Elks Club on Boulevard East and 50th Street, then saw the site of the 1891 Eldorado Amusement Park, which used to have amusement rides. More than 100 years ago, a series of cables and a huge elevator took people from the waterfront up to the Palisades to go to the park. The elevator was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the famous engineer who designed the Eiffel Tower.
Another not-to-be-missed site of historical significance was Weehawken’s famous water tower on Park Avenue. Though it is no longer used to store water, it is now maintained by the PathMark supermarket next door. The tall structure even once contained an office.
The tourists were actually able to enter the building and were amazed by the site.
“They all said they never thought they would get a chance to go inside. It was pretty amazing,” said Donna Daly from the town’s Recreation Department. “The architecture was beautiful and it was a surreal feeling to be inside this building that most only got to admire from afar.”
Another tour has been scheduled on Nov. 7 at 10 a.m. with a rain date of Nov. 8 at 1 p.m. It will be a free tour of “The Shades,” the downtown area of Weehawken. It will start in front of the former Town Hall building, which is now the site of the VFW Lodge at 309 Park Ave.
The tour will include the Lincoln Tunnel area, which once held the old valley park and playground, the original Town Hall, and some of Weehawken’s first schools and churches.
For more information on the tours, contact the Recreation Department at (201) 319-6061.
Melissa Rappaport may be reached at email@example.com