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Ho-Ho-Kus Borough

Ho-Ho-Kus Borough Hall is located at 333 Warren Avenue, 07423; phone: 201-652-4400.

Zabriskie House (Ho-Ho-Kus Inn), ca. 1796, National Register of Historic Places
Photo: Zabriskie House (Ho-Ho-Kus Inn), ca. 1796, National Register of Historic Places, listed 1983, photographed by User: NHRHS2010,, accessed June, 2012.

Beginnings [1]

There are still notable signs of the Borough's long and interesting history. The original inhabitants were the Lenni-Lenape (Delaware Indians) who left behind artifacts indicating their inhabitance. The name Ho-Ho-Kus is a contraction of the Indian word meaning "the red cedars" and Wearimus Road is named for Chief Wearimus who lived east of the Saddle River with his tribe. Chief Oratam, born 1577, was the great Sagamore (Chief) of the Hackensack Indians.

Sagamore's decision to live in peace with the first Dutch and English settlers of his land is credited with easing the way for the first settlement of Bergen County.

The first recorded date of white settlement in the area is 1698. In 1712 Jan Hopper and four other families located in the vicinity of the general business area.

Prior to the Revolution, the community became traversed by an important stage between Albany and New York, and with it came substantial homes and taverns. Troops of Washington's army rested under the Washington Elm outside the Under the Elms Tavern on Franklin Turnpike. This elm tree existed as late as 1938.

During the Revolutionary War famous visitors to the historic Hermitage House (now preserved on North Franklin Turnpike at the Waldwick Border) included George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Monroe, and the Marquis De Lafayette. The home was also the scene of the courtship of Aaron Burr and the Widow Prevost.

Another existing historic building, originally built as a private residence for the Zabriskie family after the Revolution, is the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn. It is now owned by the Borough and leased as a restaurant.

The Borough's history since Colonial times is reflected in its present development pattern as shown on the accompanying map of Existing Land Use. The original Colonial settlement was clustered around the present business area at Franklin Turnpike and Sheridan Avenue. The Dalebrook Park industrial area at the northwest corner of the Borough is a remnant of the mills and small factories which in the early 1800's used the water power of the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook. In 1850, the construction of the Ramapo and Paterson Railroad along the Borough's west boundary, near the business district, brought the first commuters from New York.

In 1870 Ho-Ho-Kus was still a primarily agricultural community. At this time the Ho-Ho-Kus Racetrack, located on Racetrack Road west of what is now Route 17, began operation. The grounds, which included 23 acres, were developed by the New Jersey Agricultural Association. Fairs were held that included horse races. Later the track became part of the metropolitan circuit and horse racing continued until 1933. Automobile races, which began in 1920, continued until 1938 when a serious accident took place. Then, the Borough voted to discontinue all auto racing at the park. Eventually the facility fell to disrepair and was sold in 1950 for use as the Borough's third residential subdivision.

  1. Planning Board, Borough of Ho-Ho-Kus, Master Plan Update, 2007,, accessed June, 2012.
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