Hasbrouck Heights Jr/Sr High School, May 12, 2000
Hasbrouck Heights "what a nice town"
The Boulevard center of town life since 1896
By Alan Aspilli & Adrian Bermudez
The Boulevard has been a part of Hasbrouck Heights since its origin in 1896. It has flourished under natural disasters such as floods, droughts, and even blizzards. Boulevard shops, which have been thriving since early 1950, included "the place to meet, Fishers, and Butterworths. Allen and Allen, a property management business that was established in HasbrouckHeights in 1924, was one of these. Shops that havent succeeded include Palmeries which had "the largest soda in town," and Jerrys Barbershop which most likely fell to Chez Vincent and Joes Haircuts. Quality Cleaners hung up its dry cleaning and transformed into the dental office of Roy E. Ziff. Hasbrouck Heights Radio service, a thing of the past, became something that everyone needs, Pepe Plumbing. Just a few blocks from the Boulevard near Euclid School, cows bellowed and mooed as they roamed freely at the Wisse Brothers Dairy Farm on Passaic Avenue.
When kids werent sipping ice cream sodas at Fishers or strolling down the Boulevard to Powelsons Drug Store, they were at school dances. Every Saturday night was dance night. The grand daddy of them all was, of course, their prom. The junior prom ran a close second. In 1949, the junior prom was held in Lincoln school with the only class in attendance being juniors. Freshman, seniors, and especially sophomores were excluded. At $2.50 plus the usual 50 cent tax being the cost of the junior prom, most couples had more money to spend on fancy dresses and after-prom parties. Today, the junior semiformal costs $100 a couple! True, the event is not held in Lincoln School anymore, but the augmentation of $97 in 50 years is staggering. Today, almost every class is going to be represented at the Junior semiformal.
However, everything wasnt blissful in Heights. Noise and traffic from Curtis-Wright and Route 17 was not only annoying, it destroyed this "oasis in a desert of industry." To help eliminate speeders along the Boulevard and reduce traffic congestion, traffic lights were installed. Curtis-Wright was ordered to reduce the noise pollution emanating from their plant.
As a result of Route 17 being under construction, traffic was detoured through town. Mayor Knowlan was so infuriated about this problem that he set up a blockage to stop the traffic from flowing down the Boulevard.
Besides these problems, organized crime and notorious crime bosses allegedly invaded Heights when the Class of 1950 was attending Franklin High School. Anthony Guarini, a Heights resident, was indicted and convicted for illegal gambling operations.
William Moretti, who lived on Roosevelt Avenue and then on Bell Avenue, was subpoenaed to testify before the Anti-Crime Investigation Committee, better known as the Kefauver Committee. He allegedly ran mob operations in town. He was murdered on October 4, 1951.
Today, it seems like the Boulevard needs an uplift. According to Mayor Torre, who spoke at a Chamber of Commerce meeting, "The Boulevard is worn out, exhausted and needs help. Its time to refurbish some great ideas."
To eliminate parking problems, the beginning and end of each block from Kipp to Hamilton Avenue would be 15-minute parking only. The center sections of each block would remain 2 hours. The goal is to facilitate quick drop off and pick up at such stores as Flash Photo and Loveys Pizza. Low maintenance shrubs in planters may soon be placed along the curbs, and park benches may be installed at the end of each block. However, the council is worried "that kids will hang out" if the benches are available.
Franklin School, Heights Sweet Shoppe and Saturday night dances are memories of a time when the Class of 1950 strolled down the Boulevard wearing their crinolines and saddle shoes. But the Boulevard can still be a vital part of life in Heights. The hope is, according to Mayor Torre, the "worn out" Boulevard will once again become a haven of improved life in Heights, that it will be a "community showcase, a demonstration of town pride," a nice place to stroll and a place that should cause visitors to say, "What a nice town."