What’s in a Name: Schuyler Avenue

This revived  weekly feature is brought to you courtesy of the Meadowlands Commission’s Parks Department to give you some historical background on how local places, landmarks, and geographical features  got their name.

Map Robert Erskine -1776

Map Robert Erskine -1776

Schuyler Avenue, North Arlington  

In the entire history of the Hackensack Meadowlands no one ever said, “Thar’s gold in them thar hills!”

But in the early 1700’s someone said, “There’s copper in those hills.”

That “someone” was Arent Schuyler born in Albany, New York in 1662.

His is the story of the discovery of copper in the Meadowlands.

Arent was the first of the Schuylers who gave their name to one of this area’s oldest roads: Schuyler Avenue.

Click “Continue reading…” for more information and archival images,Arent Schuyler was a shrewd and wealthy businessman who owned various properties and homes along the first ridge of hills overlooking the meadows.  He owned so much property that it required an army of 200 slaves to maintain the farms and orchards that composed his holdings.

Greater wealth, however, lay beneath the ground than above it.

One day in 1719, an elderly slave was plowing a furrow when suddenly the plow’s blade cast up a green stone. The slave immediately took it to his master who recognized at once the object and the significance of the find.  (Arent sent the stone to England for analysis and it was found to contain 80% copper.)

Arent could not smelt the copper in the meadows even if he wanted to for England’s Navigation Laws forbade the smelting of any metals in her colonies, preferring to import raw materials and shipping them back to America as finished products.

John Schuyler, one of Arent’s eight children assumed management of the copper mine.  It was during this time the mine began to fill with water.

Copper Mines Steam Engine&Josiah HornblowerJohn invited Josiah Hornblower,  an English engineer whose knowledge and inventions helped propel Great Britain into the Industrial Revolution, to visit the mine and devise a piece of equipment that would pump the water out of the flooded shafts.

After 2 years, Josiah Hornblower put into service America’s first application of the steam engine.

Credits:     Excerpt from “The Haunted Cooper Mine of North Arlington,”

                        The North Arlington Historical Society’s Bicentennial Book

                                            Bob Haag, North Arlington Historical Society

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