Commissioner Tilo Rivas couldn’t help but move his feet to the music as dancers and others gathered on Palisade Avenue to celebrate the founding of Union City.
“We’re celebrating our 90th anniversary,” Rivas said at the event two weeks ago.
The roots of Union City go back to just after the Civil War, when there was a lot of land swapping between municipalities that led to the creation of Hoboken, Weehawken, and West Hoboken. Union Town, often called Union Hill, merged with West Hoboken on June 1, 1925 to become Union City.
The celebration took place on June 7, but nobody seemed to mind being late.
Union City is the third most densely-populated city in America, but has managed to lead in technology advances for its schools. It is the only landlocked municipality in Northern Hudson County.
The celebration included dancers dressed up as classic Disney characters, popcorn, hotdogs, pony rides, and a few donkeys and lamas thrown in for good measure. Kids climbed an inflated slide, while a clown twisted balloons into various shapes.
City on the upswing
Union City is currently seeing a period of economic, artistic and cultural growth. This was highlighted by a display of local artists that decorated the fence of nearby Washington Park.
Over the years, artists like William Ranney, Antonio Jacobsen, James Buttersworth, and Andrew Melrose have lived in Union City.
Commissioner Lucio Fernandez has set up a committee to promote local arts programming.
“We’re celebrating our 90th anniversary.” – Tilo Rivas
Prior to the founding of Union City, the area was known for its diversity. A small section along Central Avenue from 23rd to 27th streets was now as the “Dardanelles” section. More than 19 different nationalities resided there, including Dutch, English and French. Germans began to move into the area about a decade before the Civil War. But the city also attracted Russians, Jewish, Swiss, Italian, Greek, Chinese and other immigrants.
Along Bergenline Avenue live people from a number of nationalities hailing from Central and South America.
Cuban immigrants arrived in the 1950s, taking jobs in local factories or establishing businesses.
Making a few dance moves of his own, Rivas said that the celebration was to mark the long history of Union City.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.