Bergen Square, at the intersection of Bergen Avenue and Academy Street in Jersey City, is in the southwestern part of the much larger Journal Square district. A commercial residential area, it contains an eclectic array of architectural styles including 19th-century row houses, Art Deco retail and office buildings, and is the site of the longest continually-used school site in the United States. Nearby are the Van Wagenen House (sometimes called the Apple Tree House) and Old Bergen Church, two structures from the colonial period. St. George & St. Shenouda Coptic Orthodox Church founded by early Egyptian immigrants was one of the original Coptic congregations in New Jersey.
The square and the streets around it are the site of what is considered to the oldest municipality in the state of New Jersey which was first established in 1660 as Bergen in the province of New Netherland and, in 1683, became Bergen Township. Permission to settle there was granted by the Director-General of New Netherland, Petrus Stuyvesant. A statue of Stuyvesant by J. Massey Rhind is situated on the square to commemorate the event. The square was surveyed and designed by Jacques Cortelyou and is the first example of what was to become known as a Philadelphia square in the United States. Though there no buildings from the period still standing, the names of streets (such as Vroom, Vanreypen, Newkirk, Tuers, Dekalb) and the grid they form still remain to mark the origins of the earlier village. In the immediate vicinity, there are cemeteries and the Old Bergen Church which were founded by the settlers and their ancestors.
Pavonia, the first European settlement on the west bank of the Hudson River, was temporarily evacuated during a series of raids and retaliations between the Dutch and the Lenape, the Native Americans who lived there at the time known as Kieft's War. Those who survived the counterattack were ordered back to the relative safety of New Amsterdam, on the tip of Manhattan. After the treaty was signed in 1645, the communities at Pavonia and Communipaw continued to grow steadily, but were again raided in a conflict sometimes called the Peach Tree War in 1655.
Responding to settlers wishes to secure their holdings and wanting to re-establish control of the area, Stuyvesant negotiated a deal in 1658 with the Lenape for the larger area named Bergen, "by the great rock above Wiehacken," then taking in the sweep of land on the peninsula west of the Hudson and east of the Hackensack River extending down to the Kill Van Kull in Bayonne. A stipulation for the settlement was that a garrison be built so that homesteaders, whose farms spread out around the village, could retreat there in the event of an attack. The charter for the village gave it a semi-autonomous government, and it became the seat of government for the region, which included all the European settlements radiating from the west bank of the North River.
In 1664, a negotiated surrender gave control of New Netherland to the English, who on September 22, 1668, recognized and confirmed original town charter. In 1674, soon after English possession of New Netherland was formalized, the village at Bergen became part of the proprietary colony of East Jersey, and the "capital" of one four newly established administrative districts, Bergen County, where it remained until 1710, when the government moved to Hackensack.
- "Bergen Square with map of early village". Forgotten-NY.com. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
- There has been a school at the northeast corner of Bergen Square since 1664. See "Walking Tour of the Bergen Square". Archived from the original on June 17, 2016. Retrieved August 3, 2009.
On the northeast corner of Bergen Square stands P.S. 11 (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School). In 1664 the first schoolhouse was built on this lot. From 1790 to 1857 the Columbia Academy stood here until it was replaced by the first of three public schools.
- Shalhoub, Patrick B (Oct. 1, 1995). Images of America: Jersey City. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7524-0255-2. https://books.google.com/books?id=GUWQLmEIGUwC&printsec=frontcover&hl=nl&source=gbs_book_similarbooks#.
- "NEW-JERSEY.; Laying the Corner-Home of a New Academy at Bergen--History of the Old Building" (PDF). The New York Times. July 29, 1858.
- "Where Church Pews Replaced the Bar Stools". The New York Times. (Retrieved 08-05-2008)
- [query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F50A11F73B5F1B738DDDA90A94DA415B8685F... NY Times
- NJCU: Jersey City A to Z: Bergen with map Archived 2008-09-15 at the Wayback Machine
- "Legends & Landmarks: Famed sculptor of the early 20th century created historically, artistically important Jersey City statue of Peter Stuyvesant". NJ.com. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
- "Peter Stuyvesant statue to be restored and returned to Bergen Avenue post". NJ.com. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
- "Jersey City and Hudson County contribute toward pedestal for restored Peter Stuyvesant statue". NJ.com. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
- "Peter Stuyvesant monument will return to Jersey City". NJ.com. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
- Sarapin, Janice Kohl (2002). Old Burial Grounds of New Jersey. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-2111-4.
- Winkler, David F. (1998). Revisiting the Attack on Pavonia. New Jersey Historical Society.
- Beck, Sanderson (2006). "New Netherland and Stuyvesant 1642-64".
- History of the County of Hudson, New Jersey, from Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, p. 62, accessed March 29, 2007.
- "The Story of New Jersey's Civil Boundaries: 1606-1968", John P. Snyder, Bureau of Geology and Topography; Trenton, New Jersey; 1969. p. 145.
- "1660-Jersey City-1910;; Topical Heads For Mr. Van Winkle's Articles" (PDF). The New York Times. October 9, 1910.