John Taylor Johnston was born on April 8, 1820, the son of John Johnston, a prominent merchant banker in New York City. Johnston was the founding president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1870, as well as the President of the Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ) from 1848 to 1877. He was born and grew up in Greenwich Village, and in 1839 graduated from New York University, an institution founded by his father and several other civic-minded New Yorkers. He later studied at Yale Law School, and was admitted to the bar in 1843. In 1856, Johnston constructed the first marble mansion in New York as his residence at 8 Fifth Avenue, just north of Washington Square. He died there on March 24, 1893.
Johnston's name recalls the era when Bergen Neck was dominated by rail infrastructure and he was head of CNJ.
Johnston Avenue in lower Jersey City, New Jersey (designated County Route 614 for a 0.81-mile (1.30 km) section of its length) begins in the west at the foot of Bergen Hill close to Communipaw Junction and ends at the Liberty State Park Station of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail. The cobblestoned portion street continues under New Jersey Turnpike Newark Bay Extension, in Liberty State Park to the Communipaw Terminal on the Upper New York Bay and in the 1970s was rededicated Audrey Zapp Drive to honor a local environmentalist influential in the development of the park.
The Port Johnston Coal Docks on Constable Hook in Bayonne, New Jersey also bear his name. The former Johnston Avenue Yard was the terminus for the Lehigh Valley Terminal Railway.
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