Close-Up on Weehawken

Portions of this article have been updated.


Weehawken, New Jersey, home of the Lincoln Tunnel, is an often overlooked township located atop the tip of the New Jersey Palisades. It's hilly and sprawling for a small town that was incorporated in 1859 (formerly it was part of Hoboken and North Bergen) but dates back to colonial times. Victorian and some colonial architecture mix with mid-20th-century aluminum-sided suburbia along narrow, tree-lined streets. Sleepy and low key aside from the chaos of tunnel traffic, it's a desirable location for both New Yorkers and New Jerseyans for proximity to the city and spectacular views of midtown along Boulevard East, not to mention its reputation for reasonable calm and safety in contrast to more raucous (Hoboken) or dodgy (Union City) locations nearby. For those looking to spend, there are brand-new waterfront condo developments and ground expected to break shortly on several more. For those seeking rent respite from the New York market, the good news is there are two Weehawkens: the town itself, which is affordable, and the incoming luxury developments. The bad news is the rental market is extremely tight and the further west you move from Boulevard East, the less of a view and access to public transportation you're going to get. Overall, Weehawken retains an eerily serene, suburban aura even when located in the heart of post-industrial urban sprawl.

Boundaries: Hoboken, roughly to the south of 16th Street; West New York, north of 51st Street; Union City to the west; and the Hudson River to the east.

Transportation: NY Waterway ferries run to midtown from stops at Port Imperial and Lincoln Harbor. Gypsy buses run regularly, nearly 24 hours a day, to 42nd Street at $2 a trip. NJ Transit buses, which can provide a better bargain with monthly fares, are also available. During rush hours there is also a local bus service to the Hoboken PATH train. Estimated travel time to New York is about 20 minutes.

Main Drags: Boulevard East is the wide road originating near the Lincoln Tunnel entrance and running along the top of the cliff; here you'll find some gorgeous buildings, wide green lawns, and access to public transportation. Harbor Boulevard and Pershing Road run along the waterfront and the pretty new developments. Park Avenue—a multicultural small town's main street featuring workaday small-business storefronts, as well as Spanish restaurants and a Botanicas—cuts through the town center.

Average Price to Rent: Studios from $700 to $1,000; one-bedrooms from $800 to $1,000 and up; two-bedrooms from $1,400 and up; three-bedrooms from $2,500 and up.

Average Price to Buy: Single-family house, $273,000 to $800,000 and up; two-family house, $329,000 to $725,000 and up; three-family house, $374,000 to $899,000 and up. Co-ops range from $82,000 to $160,000; condos, $223,000 to $591,000 and up. Townhouses near Port Imperial go for $1.5 million and up.

History: For a quiet suburb, Weehawken's had an illustrious past. Henry Hudson first dropped anchor in Weehawken Cove in 1609 on his third voyage. During the American Revolution, Weehawken's Palisades were used to spy on the British, who were headquartered in New York. In the mid to late 1800s, the wealthy built summer homes here to escape the heat of New York City. Later the town would become a ship, rail, and toll-road transportation hub, especially with the advent of the Lincoln Tunnel in 1937. On a narrow stone ledge beneath a cliff overlooking the bay were the infamous Weehawken dueling grounds; the site was leveled to accommodate construction of the tunnel.

Famous Duels: Between 1798 and 1895, 18 documented duels and numerous others occurred at the dueling grounds; at least 36 men were estimated to have been killed. Sitting Vice President Aaron Burr mortally wounded first secretary of the treasury and signer of the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton, in a pistol duel on July 11, 1804. Other notable duelists included New York governor DeWitt Clinton, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, Captain John Heath, and Hamilton's brother-in-law John Barker Church.

Landmarks: Hackensack Water Company's Weehawken Tower was declared a landmark in 1980 even though the defunct reservoir it serviced was demolished and paved over for a shopping center. Now the imposing, medieval-inspired tower keeps watch over a Pathmark near the town center. Though the dueling grounds were similarly demolished, Hamilton Park on Boulevard East features a memorial to the historic duel and provides some green space as well as awe-inspiring views of the Manhattan skyline.

Restaurants & Bars: Weehawken's nightlife is not exactly on fire. If you're seeking something beyond take-out or a lunch counter, Dry Dock Restaurants, a local restaurant chain, features upscale American cuisine and seafood at Arthur's Landing (1 Pershing Road) and Spirito Grill (500 Harbor Boulevard). Also on the waterfront is a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse franchise (1000 Harbor Boulevard). Going out for a drink? There's Houlihan's (1200 Harbor Boulevard) near the water; Ed & Joes, a no-nonsense local bar at 4516 Park Avenue; and a few other locals.

Happenings: Every summer Hudson River Performing Arts Center (hrpac.org) presents "Summer Concerts on the Hudson" at Lincoln Harbor Park. This past July, Weehawken hosted a historical re-enactment of the Hamilton-Burr duel, featuring descendents of Burr and Hamilton, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the event.

Politicians: Mayor Richard F. Turner; Councilman-at-Large Robert Zucconi; and councilpersons Carmela Silvestri Ehret (First Ward), Rosemary J. Lavagnino (Second Ward), and Robert J. Sosa (Third Ward) serve the township.

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