Before becoming an incorporated borough, the area that was to become Westwood [†] was originally part of Harrington Township whose establishment by royal charter dated to 1775. One of the original settlers of the area was Isaac Bogert, who purchased land from Jacob Hopper in 1780, and whose family later operated a prominent grist mill. In 1826, the area became part of Harrington Township and known as Pleasantville within the township. In 1840, Harrington was divided into two townships, with the western portion, designated as Washington Township, containing the future Westwood which retained the name of Pleasantville. Encompassing a large territory that was bordered by Hackensack River to the east, New Barbadoes Township to the south, Saddle River to the west, and the New York State boundary to the north, Washington Township boasted six stores, four schools, six grist mills, and 14 sawmills in 1844. By 1861, there were less than 20 dwellings located in the Westwood area, though other settlers in the area besides the Bogerts included the Bantas, Blauvelts, Brickells, Demarests, Herings, Holdrums, Hoppers, Storms, Van Emburghs, and Westervelts, among others. The first general store in the village was established by Isaac D. Bogert and Z.B. Van Emburgh in 1869 and located at 1 Westwood Avenue; upon their retirement, it was operated by G. T. Brickell. Concurrently with the general store, A.B. Bogert opened the Westwood Hotel across the street at 2 Westwood Avenue in 1869 which flourished under a succession of owners until 1921 when it was adapted for other uses.
In 1870, the introduction of the Hackensack and New York Railroad facilitated travel between the future Westwood Borough and New York City via a ferry originating from Jersey City. It was also during this year on March 10 that the area became officially recognized as the "Borough of Westwood." Located on the east side of Railroad Avenue, the railroad depot received four trains a day running in each direction. The advent of passenger rail service at this time resulted in the construction of a post office-general store at the southeast corner of Westwood Avenue and Broadway in 1869 followed by several hotel taverns, as well as the first wave of residential development in the immediate vicinity of the depot; areas beyond the hamlet were sparsely populated with farms and mills. Commercial establishments in the community were also limited during this time, consisting of a bakery, store, and several coal and lumber sheds. By the 1880s, there were several distilleries, a grocery store, laundry, school, and cigar factories. These businesses were augmented by the opening of a molding, sash, and shutter factory in 1889 which most likely provided architectural elements for many of the homes being constructed in the area during this period.
As demand for local services increased, commensurate with an expanding population, residents in the Westwood area articulated concerns about the need for fire protection and water, among other things, and subsequently voted to secede from Washington Township and incorporate as an independent borough on May 8, 1894. Mayors in the borough's early years included individuals from both the Brickell and Bogert families, among others. Among the many improvements precipitated by the borough's incorporation were the introduction of a dedicated fire department and the completion of a privately commissioned water plant in 1899, which spurred a second wave of residential development. In 1901, there were 828 inhabitants which increased to 1,044 by 1905, and to 1,870 by 1910. Additional improvements by 1910 included increased passenger rail service, as well as the introduction of electricity, telephones, and automobile transportation.
† Adapted from: Westwood Historic Commission, Westwood Avenue Historic District Designation Report 2012, www.westwoodnj.gov, accessed December, 2021.