A Brief History of Maywood
Maywood traces its roots to the 17th century when Dutch settlers began building homes and farms in what would become New Jersey Midland RailwayBergen County. Present day Maywood was known as West Hackensack until becoming part of New Barbados Township and, in 1871, it joined Midland Township.
During the rapid expansion of the railroad in the 19th century, the New Jersey Midland Railway completed construction of a station in 1872 along Maywood Avenue as part of a broader plan to connect the Great Lakes with New York Harbor. The railroad planned to call the station “West Hackensack,” but people living nearby convinced the company to name it “Maywood,” as the area had become informally known. Later that year on September 25, 700 lots surrounding the rail lines and depots were sold at auction, spurring Maywood’s early growth. The station also served as the U.S. Post Office for Maywood until about 1920. Passenger service continued until 1966.
In 1894, residents voted to incorporate the area to give birth to the Borough of Maywood. The namesake rail station stands to this day as a historical site, restored by the Maywood Station Historical Committee and operated as a museum. The National Park Service added the landmark to the National Registry of Historic Places in 2003.
Other historic places in Maywood listed on the National Registry of Historic Places include the Romeyn-Oldis-Brinkerhoff House at 279 Maywood Avenue and the Romine-Van Voorhis House at 306 Maywood Ave.
Maywood is among the smallest municipalities in Bergen County and New Jersey with a size of just 1.287 square miles, though as of 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau found it’s home to 9,555 people, making it among the most densely populated in the county and state. The borough’s population has remained relatively steady over the past 30 years after experiencing booms in the first half of the 20th century and a loss of nearly 11 percent of its residents in the 1970s.
History of the Maywood Public Library
In 1951, the Maywood Public Library found its first home in the original borough office building when the mayor and council gave it two rooms, and the library used a $1,000 donation to buy books. The library’s popularity quickly surged, and in 1964, the need for a new building became clear as the current facilities became too small for a town of Maywood’s size. The library’s current property at 459 Maywood Avenue was purchased that year with construction finishing in 1966. But there was a catch: the mayor and council would use the bottom floor for offices until a new municipal building could be constructed — and that didn’t happen until 2003. Still today, the Hackbarth Auditorium in the lower level is used by the borough’s Office of Emergency Management during disasters.
Today, the library boasts over 75,000 volumes of material, and Harold Bloom, president of the library’s Board of Trustees, says that number will continue to grow. Determined to meet 21st century needs of Maywood residents, the library is also equipped with computer labs, free Wi-Fi and even allows patrons access to iPads. The library is staffed by 12 part-time employees, a legion of volunteers and headed by director Caitlin Hull. The library is mainly supported by grants from the State of New Jersey based on the assessed value of the borough. The grant totaled $426,000 in 2013, down from $475,000 in previous years as the Great Recession dragged down home prices. The borough contributes by paying the library’s utility costs, and the library relies on the generosity of individual donors (and, yes, late fees!) to provide the town a first-class library.
The James and Pauline Hackbarth Foundation
In particular, one benefactor stands out above them all. “The thing that makes the library unique to all libraries in the system is called the Hackbarth Foundation,” Bloom said. Maywood resident James Hackbarth, a developer and financier, left $6.6 million in a trust for the library’s benefit following his passing in 2003 in honor of his wife, Pauline, who loved the library and made it her second home. Interest from the trust helps support the library, particularly with capital improvements in which no taxpayer money is ever used, and the Foundation awards scholarships to graduating Maywood seniors as they embark on their college educations.
The Foundation provided nearly a quarter-million dollars to build the young adults room, the Trinka Room and other projects. The Foundation has also enabled the library to renovate the top floor of the building, including replacing the circulation desk and improving lighting. In 2013, due to declining state aid, the Foundation provided an extra $20,000 for more books and DVDs. The Foundation also funds arts programs, such as activities for children and musical performances, as well as helping the library to stay on the cutting edge. “This is truly a remarkable and unique thing,” Bloom said. “You can’t say to them enough thank yous.”
Sandwiched between Paramus and Hackensack, bustling Maywood still manages to preserves its small-town feel, though residents are never far from major shopping centers and highways. People living along its tree-lined streets enjoy easy access to New York City either by car or bus service provided by NJ Transit with dozens of stops along the borough’s main roads, including Maywood Avenue, Central Avenue, Passaic Street and Spring Valley Road.
The Borough of Maywood is governed by Mayor Richard Bolan with the borough council led by President Katherine Bennin. The borough’s daily business is managed by administrator Roberta Stern at the municipal building at 15 Park Avenue, just north of West Passaic Street.
The borough is protected by the Maywood Police Department, which formed just weeks after the borough’s incorporation in 1894. It began with just one police officer, but today it’s staffed by 21 law enforcement professionals, including patrolmen and detectives. The department is headquartered at 15 Park Avenue. Its web site provides a detailed history on the origins and interesting evolution of the department. Maywood Municipal Court holds sessions through the Paramus Municipal Court at Paramus’ municipal complex at 1 Jockish Square.
The Maywood Fire Department is led by Chief John McManus and staffed entirely by volunteers. It’s currently 66-people strong and assisted by a 20-person fire police unit. Each year, volunteers respond to about 250 calls ranging from fires, traffic accidents, downed power lines and more as well as providing mutual aid to surrounding communities. The department has two stations: one at the borough’s municipal complex at 15 Park Avenue and a second at 30 West Hunter Avenue.
Maywood Public Schools operate two facilities, the Memorial School on Grant Avenue for students in Pre-K through 3rd grade and the Maywood Avenue School for pupils in grades 4 through 8. Students then move on to Hackensack High School.
In 2012, Inside Jersey magazine named Maywood the second best place to retire in the state, citing easy access to outstanding medical facilities, including Hackensack University Medical Center and Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus, as well as an extremely low violent crime rate, free shuttle service provided by the borough and NJ Transit’s extensive public transportation network.
Compiled by Jeff Christman.