Hackensack Water Works
Van Buskirk County Park
Oradell, NJ 07649
A Bergen County Historic Site
On an oxbow in the northern reaches of the Hackensack River is Oradell’s Van Buskirk Island, a man made island that did not exist until 1802. Created by the dams built for the local mills, this stretch of the Hackensack River was the highest point of navigable water on the river where schooners regularly carried goods to and from New York.
Now a part of the Bergen County Parks system, this almost 14 acre site contains the historic Romanesque brick buildings of the Hackensack Water Works. This is the oldest surviving representative of a water purification and delivery system from the late 19th and early 20th century period, crucial to the development of a modern, safe water supply that was critical to turn of the century metropolitan and suburban growth.
The Hackensack Water Works, in continuous operation from 1882 to 1990 is a rare example of later 19th and early 20th century water works architecture and engineering. The historic buildings include the 1882 Pumping Station, expanding five times from 1886-1911 and innovative 1905 Filtration House, expanded in 1912 and 1955. The Pumping Station contains a unique collection of steam pumping equipment representing over four decades of development of steam technology in the early 20th century, including a 1911 Allis Chalmers Vertical Triple Expansion Pump and a 1915 Allis Chalmers Centrifugal Pump. The plant also contains the 1905 coagulation basin and gatehouse and the 1911 intake and waste gates.
This Bergen County Historic Site with its open space and park like setting is a living 100 year old timeline of technology from steam to electricity as well as a river site that represents the evolution of Bergen County from its pre-Revolutionary War saw and grist mills to the creation of pioneering water filtration technology so vital to the 20th Century development of towns and cities all over America. Not open to the public at this time.
The Bergen County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs
The Bergen County Division of Cultural & Historic Affairs received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.
Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the Bergen County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs handout. Please call the above number or email them for more information.