Many jokes have been made throughout the years at Secaucus' expense. Even its very name causes a few snickers since Secaucus is a derivation of the Algonquin words for “black” and “snake;” a more apt translation is “place of snakes,” not exactly the most welcoming name for a town.
It was during the 1950's when Secaucus' reputation incurred more harm. During this period the town was home to a number of pig farms, rendering plants and junkyards, and making it known as one of the most odorous towns in the tri-state area. Furthermore, in addition to being a dumping ground for wrecks, chemical waste and trash in general, Secaucus was rumored to be a dumping ground for the Mob.
From Farms to Commuting
The history of the town is long and storied. Secaucus is part of a territory that is considered to be one of the oldest municipalities in the state, first chartered in 1660 as Bergen in the province of New Netherland and, in 1683, became Bergen Township. Settlement had begun in 1733 by the Smith family, whose namesake’s Abel I. Smith Burial Ground is part of the lore of Secaucus. The Abel I. Smith farmland stretched far and the burial ground lay in a grove at one of the highest spots in the town, obscured by high grass and trees and overlooking the expanse of the meadows and into the Hackensack River. It is interesting to note that in the year 1875, “Jack” Jackson, who was described as the last slave in New Jersey, died at the age of 87 on the Smith family farm. In 1820, Smith had freed his slaves, but Jackson refused the freedom he was offered and remained on the family estate until his death. Following the will of the late Abel I. Smith, Jackson was interred in the family burial ground.
Today, Secaucus has earned a well-deserved reputation as a commuter sanctuary, a home to multinational corporations, a shopping mecca, a transportation/shipping hub and a family community.
New Jersey Monthly magazine has consistently ranked Secaucus as one of the “Best Places to Live” in New Jersey.