Home Culture Bergen Square Day Returns to Journal Square This Weekend

Bergen Square Day Returns to Journal Square This Weekend

by Sarah Griesbach
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Hoboken + Jersey City are home to so many annual local activities — and this weekend marks another (albeit newer) tradition. This Saturday, September 10th from 12:00PM until 6:00PM is the 3rd annual Bergen Square Day Festival. It will be held in Journal Square at the intersection of Bergen Avenue and Academy Street, and it will include all of the family-friendly fun you’d expect from this bustling historic Journal Square community. Read on to learn all about Bergen Square Day Festival, happening this Saturday in Jersey City. 

bergen square day jersey city

(Photo Credit: @bergensquareday)

From Dutch to Most Diverse

This festival celebrates the rich cultural heritage of one of the first urban squares established in the US. Bergen Square was founded in 1660 when Dutch colonists established the Village of Bergen. It reached from what is now Vroom Street on the south to Newkirk Street on the north and from Tuers Avenue on the east to Van Reypen Street on the west. 

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This claim upon Lenni Lenape land as the foundation of what was then New Netherlands was built with a tall log stockade around it. Today’s Bergen Avenue was the road that ran through the walled square’s center. Defensive gates and block houses sat at each end of the public square. Peter Stuyvesant ordered the tightly guarded construction during the violent Dutch response to the Peach Tree War of 1655. 

Bergen Square Day

(Photo Credit: @bergensquareday)

A well in the middle of the square served as the region’s first water works. A single octagonal log structure was the church, school, and court of law. The Bergen Square development was soon followed by a second Dutch settlement at Communipaw. The two colonial outposts were joined by Jersey City’s first road, which followed the present line of Communipaw Avenue up to what is now Summit Avenue and up to Academy Street. Academy Street got its  name because of the schoolhouse that was built at that spot. Jersey City’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Public School #11 now sits where that building once sat. It is the oldest continuous school site in the US and the first free school + public school building in New Jersey and Jersey City.

Today, this dense urban neighborhood is one of the most diverse areas in one of the country’s most ethnically and racially diverse cities. The unique history and celebrated diversity of the area make it the center of many Jersey City activities. The new Museum of Jersey City History will utilize the festival day to introduce itself as the current occupant of the landmark Apple Tree House. That eagerly awaited museum has in the works a number of projects and exhibitions focused on the extraordinary people’s history of Jersey City, which holds this historic neighborhood at its center.

bergen square day 2022

(Photo Credit: @bergensquareday)

Making History into a Party

Bergen Square Day Festival organizers — The Journal Square Community Association and the Bergen Square Historical Society, together with the Journal Square Special Improvement District and Jersey City Office of Cultural Affairs — are making history into a party with scrumptious offerings by Jersey City’s delicious food vendors, a 5K run at 11AM, craft activities, dance performances, live music, and guided history tours.

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Entertainment at the festival will include The Spirit of Life Ensemble; Jersey City’s award-winning Surati for Performing Arts; the Chill Brown band, referring to themselves as genreless and genrefull; Joel Chassom’s Participatory Drum Circle; Experimental dancer Chihiro Cute-Beat; guitarist John Paul Garcia on the Apple Tree House porch; and Deejay Khadi spinning her Afro Beats and family-fun party pop sounds from the main stage. In the midst of all that fun and excitement, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop will speak from the main stage at 3:00PM.read more button

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