JERSEY CITY - The statue of the legendary Dutch settler Peter Stuyvesant, which stood in Jersey City's Journal Square since 1913, will be returned to the area by May of next year exactly 97 years to the day that it was unveiled, it was announced at a press conference Monday morning.
Stuyvesant is considered the founder of Bergen Square, the first European settlement in New Jersey in 1650, which makes Jersey City the oldest town in the state.
City officials and local history buffs were on hand for the announcement about the 9-foot high statue, which was removed from its site in the courtyard of Public School 11 on Bergen Avenue in February. The school is located at the site of the first settlement.
The removal, a joint effort of Hudson County Communty College and the Jersey City Board of Education, caused an uproar among local residents and City Hall after it was discovered that the statue would be relocated to the plaza in front of Hudson County Communty College's Culinary Arts Center on Sip Avenue. Meanwhile, a statue of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, the namesake of the school, would replace the Stuyvesant statue.
The statue, which is currently stored at Burns Bros. Memorials on Tonnelle Avenue, will be brought back to a location on the sidewalk in front of the school, near the corner of Bergen Avenue and Academy Street. That's where the statue was originally located from its 1913 unveiling until the late 1960s when the new School 11 opened.
Speakers at the announcement included Bob Leach of the Jersey City Historical Project, John Hallanan of the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy and Mayor Jerramiah Healy.
Maryanne Kelleher, head of the Jersey City Cultural Affairs division, said it will the city will have to raise $40,000 to return the statue to its rightful place. Fundraising got underway Monday morning when the Landmarks Conservancy gave a $2,500 check to the city. - Ricardo Kaulessar