Elizabeth Through The Ages



St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and Elizabeth General Hospital (incorp. 1880) end a century-long rivalry by merging into a new corporation, Trinitas Health Hospital.

Chairwoman of the Trinitas Board: Sr. Elizabeth Ann Maloney (1925-2001), Sister of Charity, formerly president of College of St. Elizabeth (1971-1982) and of St. Elizabeth Hospital (1986-2000).

A spirited effort to keep the Archdiocese of Newark from closing the doors of old St. Patrick’s Church (cornerstone laid 1887) begins, to save the impressive church at 215 Court Street in the city’s First Ward.

The US Federal Census put Elizabeth’s population at its highest in the city’s history: 120, 568.


September 11, 2001– Five Elizabeth residents perish in the World Trade Center tragedy: Arcelia Castillo, 49, junior accountant, March & McLennan Co; Carlos S. DaCosta, 41, assistant general manager of building services, Port Authority of new York and New Jersey; Margaret Susan Lewis, 49, legal secretary, Port Authority of new York and new Jersey; Frankie Serrano, 23, telecommunications technician, Genuity; Antony Tempesta, 38, broker, Cantor Fitzgerald.

There is a collective lore in the Latino community that several other undocumented Elizabeth residents perished in the 9/11 disaster.


On September 20th, Elizabeth hosted its first national Estuary Day,which assessed the importance of the Arthur Kill (in the background) to the city, discussed the city’s water resources and measured the water quality of the Elizabeth River. Here is Mayor Bollwage addressing the assembled citizenry.


On May 28, 2004 the City’s mayor, Christian Bollwage, and many other official dignitaries, rededicated the Elizabeth Train Station. The long-derelict station has become an attractive restaurant under the directorship of Michael LoBrace, a member of the Historical Society’s Advisory Board. The facility showcases the Society’s principle of imaginative reuse and has become a centerpiece of the city’s midtown renewal effort.
[See “Places” on this website for more information on the Elizabeth Train Station Project]


On April 22, 2005 – The innovative Elizabeth organization, Future City Inc together with the Elizabeth River/ Arthur Kill Watershed Association (a certified Department of Environmental Protection association), arranged a 2005 Earth Day celebration with science instruction and boat excursion on the Arthur Kill. The instructors in this Environmental Educational Laboratory were members of Kean University faculty and the US Corps of Engineers who provided literature and sea creatures in aquaria for several groups of high school students (Benedictine Academy, Reilly Middle School and Elizabeth High School) at the Elizabeth Marina. 

US Congressman Robert Menendez spoke to the students, urging them to use their science knowledge to help clean the city’s water courses and protect their environment as a part of their citizen responsibility. City Councilman Bill Gallman endorsed the event as a constructive, citizen-driven initiative.

US Congressman (since 2006 U. S. Senator) Robert Menendez
City Councilman Bill Gallman


On April 28, 2006 US congressman Donald Payne and Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwageresponded to the invitation of Future City Inc’s celebration of Earth Day. Congressman Payne pointedly reminded the gathered Elizabeth students how causal Earth Day consciousness has been historically in the passage of America’s Clear Air and Clear Water legislation. Once again the US Corps of Engineers (www.nan.usace.army.mil ) distinguished themselves with expert instructors explaining the role of sea life in and social importance of the Arthur Kill estuary and the Elizabeth River.

US congressman Donald Payne and Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage


On April 10 of this year Mayor Chris Bollwage and City Hall staffers arranged   celebration of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) at the Elizabeth Public Library. This event not only singled out several community groups, it also recognized the city’s participation in this federal initiative for 32 years. With this fiscal support the city encourages organizations devoted to senior citizens, youth, disabled and abused persons, single mothers and the unemployed. CDBG also supports public improvements, recreation, code enforcement and housing rehabilitation. The city has   recognized the effort of the Historical Society to engage and publicize the civic contributions of many ethnic and racial communities, especially during the 20 th century and has supported this civic work with CDBG grants.



The completion of a series of new public schools not only enhanced the priorities of the Elizabeth Board of Education; it made clear some of the shifting political allegiances in the city. Dr. Orlando Edreira Academy, named after a prominent Cuban émigré, Kean University educator and former co-president of the Elizabeth Historical Society, documented the new political presence of the Latino community.

In addition, the Ronald Reagan Academy celebrated the President who signed the 1886 Immigration and Reform Control Act that legitimated the residency of many undocumented Cuban immigrants who arrived before 1982. The Latino school trustees were willing to overlook the Reagan Iran-Contra scandals and his administration’s anti-government mantra, to honor this particular piece of government activism. The gesture underscored a deeper (1990s) shift of the Cuban community: most no longer anticipate a return to their homeland; instead, they seek to put down roots in their adopted country and exert political leadership.

Dr. Orlando Edreira Academy
Ronald Reagan Academy


The City of Elizabeth and neighboring towns like Roselle Park, which abut Warinanco Park, received support from the Union County Board of Freeholders to give the park a major uplift. Around the borders of the lake, bushes and wildflowers provided a protective edge and attempted some control of Canadian geese access to the public walkways.

In addition, the park’s creek bed was deepened and widened to deal with Spring rains and check flooding. Several handsome bridges over the creek lent a new air of elegance to Warinanco Park, originally designed in 1924 by America’s foremost landscape planners, Olmsted Associates.

Autumn, 2011

Autumn, 2011


The City of Elizabeth received supported for completion of the first stage of Elizabeth’s Riverwalk. This first stage, dedicated in Summer 2012, connected Broad Street with Bridge Street.

It also set an attractive precedent for future development with attractive plantings of fothergilia, birch trees and decorative grasses, not to mention stone walls and sitting areas where citizens can enjoy attractive views of their city. Ultimately the Elizabeth Riverwalk will extend two and a half miles from the city’s center to the Arthur Kill estuary.



Hurricane Sandy hit Elizabeth and the east coast especially hard this October 29. Damage was extensive but never more so than to the century-old oaks in Warinanco Park and at the Elizabeth Marina, where substantive dock planks were broken like toothpicks.

The storm was the second costliest hurricane in US history ($75 billion) and the largest Atlantic hurricane on record (winds spanning 1100 miles).

The storm was the second costliest hurricane in US history ($75 billion) and the largest Atlantic hurricane on record (winds spanning 1100 miles).

It affected the entire eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine (24 states), cutting power in New Jersey and New York for seven to ten days in some places. The storm reached inland to states like Michigan and Wisconsin and was responsible for hundreds of deaths.




On April 17, 2013 the Historical Society; Elizabeth NJ Inc joined with Future City Inc, the foremost environmental group in Union County NJ and the NJ Tree Foundation to create an urban tree nursery. The idea for this initiative stems from the difficulty of getting many municipalities, not to mention funders, to consider trees and bushes to be – as Frederick Law Olmsted continually emphasized – an essential part of the urban infrastructure. Plantings are not mere ornaments to the city environment but fundamental features of a city’s commitment to public health and civility. The backyard of the Belcher Ogden Mansion will once again make history, this time for the future, in showcasing a range of trees – elms, oaks, hawthorns, ornamental cherries, etc – and bushes like mallows, crepe myrtles etc – that play strategic parts in the greening of the modern city.

Here they can be observed and studied by urban leaders considering a reaffirmation to the habitat of any city. Our special thanks go to the crew of the NJ Tree Foundation, seen here in the midst of this innovative experiment, a resource for all of Elizabeth.




A small cove on the Arthur Kill – John’s Cove – was dedicated by the Mayor and Council of Elizabeth this year to commemorate the life, teaching and sudden death of Dr. John Dobosiewicz, a 48 year old scientist on the faculty of Kean University. He worked closely with the dynamic environmental organization, Future City Inc, and with them co-founded the Elizabeth River/ Arthur Kill Watershed Association. These groups help sponsor Estuary Day every Spring and Environmental Day every Fall, teaching numerous school groups about the biological dynamics of Elizabeth’s waterways. His enthusiasm for his subject and his students was palpable, and his work has contributed substantively to the environmental awareness of his university and this region.

Dobosiewicz (1964-2013) was married for 19 years to Diana Pereira, and they had four children: Hailey Paige, Christian John, Jack Tyler and Faith Madison. At the time of his death he was a coach for many sports and served as Executive Director of Kean University School of General Studies.



On Saturday October 25, 2014, The Nathaniel Bonnell Homestead hosted a group of Bonnell Descendants who were visiting their family homestead. The house has always attracted visitors with a genealogical connection – Belchers, Ogdens etc – but never in 30 years has the house had a group of connected visitors and never from such great distances. No doubt there are millions such people around who have ancestral links to the two Elizabeth houses. In 350 years, that is about 14 generations, many generations had many children and many of them had many more. 

The event was a real treat for all presently associated with the houses. Several of the visitors had done  DNA tests to further support the probability that their direct ancestors lived in the houses – some could have had ancestors who lived in both the Bonnell House and the Belcher Ogden Mansion. For them they could actually touch foundation stones and wood touched by their ancestors. 

The day was further enhanced by a visit from the present mayor of Elizabeth Chris Bollwage. Each of our houses was the home of a former mayor of Elizabeth (Joseph Bonnell [? – 1748) and William Peartree Smith[1723-1801]). The Belcher mansion was also part of the tour and that was the home of Royal Governor Jonathan Belcher (1681-1757) and a New Jersey Federalist governor, Aaron Ogden (1756-1839). 

The Bonnell visitors also visited with the students at Future City who use the buildings for “base camp” for their various projects relating to environmental data collection. Most of students are of recent Hispanic origin, thus the Bonnell house continues to be a place for recent arrivals seeking a new life in a new land, just as it was 350 years ago. 

A lunch presentation was made for the students and Bonnell visitors about the similarity of the economic activity in and around Elizabethtown in the 17th century and the 21st century. The Elizabeth connection with slavery and piracy was reviewed in some detail.



Judy Blume, a native Elizabethan and nationally reputed author, published her book this year, In The Unlikely Event, a tale of the 1951 plane crash in Elizabeth NJ. Blume was a teen-ager at that time and uses her skills to record the event as well as documents features of her city.


Philip D. Murphy (born 1957) is an American financier (Goldman Sachs), diplomat and 56th governor of the state of New Jersey (2018-present). He is a Democrat and served as US Ambassador to Germany (2009-13) under President Barak Obama. Murphy is a native of Massachusetts and a graduate of Harvard University (AB Econ 1979) and the Wharton School of Economics at University of Pennsylvania (MBA 1983). In 2021 Murphy sought and won re-election as NJ’s governor, the first Democrat in 44 years to achieve re-election.



J. Christian Bollwage (born 1951), a lifelong resident of Elizabeth NJ, was first elected mayor in 1992 and re-elected successively through 2020. He graduated from Kean University in 1981 and took an MA from that school in 1984. He currently serves that institution as an adjunct prof of Public Administration.

On October 27, 2020 the mayor and council provided a planning document for the Baker Center Redevelopment Plan. This plan laid out current thinking about the uses of the old Burry Biscuit Company which burned to the ground in December 2011. The impact of the 2008 recession plus suits by Stop and Shop fearing competition and a breach of the city’s master plan, caused delays. The property, formerly owned by Quaker Oats of which since 1938 Burry Biscuit, a subsidiary, dominated with its main product of Girl Scout cookies (1936-1989). The 94 year old property was substantial with 2 million square feet of coverage and a quarter of a mile long. Its replacement has great implications for the city’s economic future and currently involves mixed use with 632 residential units as well as non-residential features, like commercial enterprises and landscaping, in seven new buildings.


On February 25, of tis year, Dr. Orlando Edreira, formerly co-president of the Elizabeth Historical Society, passed away. He was a distinguished language professor at Kean University as well as Elizabeth City councilman. His significant contribution to his adopted city led to the naming of one of its public schools, the Orlando Edreira Academy. Dr. Edreira was born in 1934 in Cuba and emigrated to his adopted city where his career exemplified the ongoing contribution of its immigrant residents.

During this year also, Kevin Brady, a native Elizabethan, published his book, North End Boy,  which attempts to describe a North End boyhood including several of the structural mainstays of Elizabeth NJ, like Bayway Refinery, Burry Biscuit Company and Singers Sewing Machine Manufacturer.


David R. Pierce, longtime legal advisor to the Elizabeth Historical Society and to Future City, Inc, the imaginative environmental service organization, died at his home in Kingwood Township, NJ of cancer, February 3, 2022, age 64. He was born June 13. 1957 and graduated from Syracuse University with two degrees, both magna cum laude: BS (1979) in Environmental Engineering and a JD (1985) from their School of Law. David was a partner and former president of the respected law firm, Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook Cooper LC., Union, NJ. David was a lifelong Quaker and loving husband to his wife, also a Syracuse alum, Cornelia, and their daughter, Cookie, 22, also a Syracuse University alumna.

David R. Pierce is the former President of Lindabury.  He concentrated his practice on environmental and land use issues, including site remediation and cost recovery, brownfields, commercial and industrial sales, purchases and leasing, zoning and development issues. David has an environmental engineering degree and several years’ work experience as an environmental engineer.

David joined Lindabury in 1986 as an associate attorney and became a shareholder of the Firm in 1993.  He has been involved in various levels of firm management since 1998, beginning with conducting performance reviews for the firm’s associate attorneys and setting annual compensation.  Beginning in 2012 David led the firm’s succession planning initiative which concluded in 2014.  He was elected to the position of Executive Vice President in October 2016 and served as Firm President between 2017 and 2021.

In addition to his environmental and land use practice, David also has a great deal of experience representing clients in shareholder disputes.  David has successfully handled more than a dozen cases resulting in significant favorable settlements for his clients.  In addition, David represents clients in general business activities, serving essentially as general counsel for several manufacturing businesses. 

In this role he provides advice on issues such as succession planning, asset and stock sales and acquisitions, and negotiates various contracts, including supply contracts, warranties, non-disclosure and non-competition agreements, buy-sell agreements, voting trusts, and stock redemption agreements among others. He enjoyed gardening and making maple syrup.

Among his many contributions to the work of the Elizabeth Historical Society and Future Cowas his quiet involvement with the October 12, 2007 restoration of Woodruff Park in Elizabeth.