The Journal Square Community Association and the Bergen Square Historical Society, together with the Journal Square Restoration Corporation and the Jersey City Office of Cultural Affairs, will once again sponsor Bergen Square Day, a celebration of the city’s Bergen Square neighborhood, Saturday, Oct. 23 from noon to 5 p.m. (rain or shine), at the intersection of Bergen Avenue and Academy Street.
The event will feature live bands, a deejay, poetry readings, dance performances, and tours of numerous historic sites in the neighborhood. In a nod to fall, it will also include the Bergen Apple Fest, offering a range of apple treats (pies, candied apples, cider, whole apples) for sale, a “cake walk” contest, pumpkin painting, and other kids’ activities.
Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop will speak at 2:45 p.m. from the music stage at the southwest corner of Bergen Square.
“I believe this event will renew and re-establish Bergen Square on the map and in the public consciousness as an important historical and cultural destination,” said local historian and Journal Square Community Association Trustee James Dievler, who is organizing the event. …We are especially excited this year to locate part of the event at the “Apple Tree House,” future home of the Museum of Jersey City History.”
Indeed, the area boasts many historical distinctions.
Sizable numbers of the Lenni Lenape people lived in Bergen Square before the community was settled by Europeans (the first Europeans to put down roots in what is now New Jersey.) And evidence shows that George Washington met with Revolutionary War Commander Lafayette somewhere in the neighborhood as well.
(According to legend, the two men met under an apple tree. Because the Apple Tree House — formally named the Van Wagenen House after its original owners — did have apple orchards and an adjacent cider press, many think the two icons of American History met there.)
Local afficianados will be leading guided walks starting from the Apple Tree House and stopping at other nearby sites, including Speer Cemetery, the Old Bergen Church and Cemetery, and the Stuyvesant Statue, every hour on the hour from 1 to 4 p.m.
This year’s event is the second annual Bergen Square Day. The first was held in May 2019. The 2020 event, which marked the 360th anniversary of the founding of Bergen, was canceled because of the pandemic.
Poet David Mills together with “New York and New Jersey Slavery and the Colonial Settlers,” presented by Hudson County Community College, opens for Bergen Square Day at the Apple Tree House at 11 a.m. Deejay Khadi will be spinning Afro beats and a full assortment of music at Bergen Avenue and Newkirk Street all afternoon.