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The Boss

By David Dayton McKean
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

The Central Railroad of New Jersey began in 1863 to build its way along the edge of South Cove to the bay front over a roadbed composed of New York City garbage and refuse dumped from scows. For years the stenches arising from this unusual right-of-way were wafted by summer breezes over the southern portions of Jersey City. These odors mingled with the dank, fetid, humid air from the swamps and with the smoke from the railroad yards, ferries, and factories.

In this southern portion of the city is a particularly grimy slum area called the Horseshoe Section. It received the name from a gerrymander in 1871. The Republican legislature, in those Reconstruction days, sought to concentrate all the Democratic voters in one assembly district; and to do so it designed a district shaped somewhat like a horseshoe. It was roughly a mile square and extended south from the Hoboken city line and west from the Hudson River to the foot of a hill on the west.

In a house on Tenth Street, which the humorists of the Horseshoe called `The Ship' or `The Ark,' because after a storm it was often surrounded by a stagnant lake, Frank Hague was born, January 17, 1876. He was the third son and fourth child among the eight children of John and Margaret (Fagen) Hague.


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