Port Jervis, New York
|Motto: Gateway to the Upper Delaware River|
|• Mayor||Russell R. Potter (R, C, I)|
|• Common Council|
|• Total||2.7 sq mi (7 km2)|
|• Land||2.5 sq mi (6.6 km2)|
|• Water||0.6 sq mi (0.5 km2) 6.64%|
|Elevation||400 ft (122 m)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0960971|
|Website||City of Port Jervis Website|
Port Jervis is a city on the Delaware River in western Orange County, New York, with a population of 8,828 at the 2010 census. The communities of Deerpark, Huguenot, Sparrowbush, and Greenville are adjacent to Port Jervis, and the towns of Montague, New Jersey and Matamoras, Pennsylvania face the city across the respective state borders. From late spring to early fall many thousands of travelers and tourists pass through Port Jervis on their way to enjoying rafting, kayaking, canoeing and other activities in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River and the surrounding area.
In August 2008, Port Jervis was named one of "Ten Coolest Small Towns" by Budget Travel magazine.
Geography and transportation
Port Jervis is located on the north bank of the Delaware River at the point where: 1) the Neversink River – the Delaware's largest tributary – empties into the larger river; and 2) the Delaware makes a right turn to run south-southwest along Kittatinny Ridge Kittatinny Mountains – until reaching the Delaware Water Gap. A left turn through the Delaware Water Gap takes the Delaware River to continue on to Trenton, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Delaware Bay. Port Jervis is connected by the Mid-Delaware Bridge across the Delaware to Matamoras, Pennsylvania.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.7 square miles (7.0 km2), of which, 2.5 square miles (6.5 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (6.64%) is water.
Port Jervis is the last stop on the 95-mile-long (153 km) Port Jervis Line, which is a commuter railroad service from Hoboken, New Jersey and New York City that is contracted to NJ Transit by the Metro-North Railroad of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The track itself continues on to Binghamton and Buffalo, but passenger service beyond Port Jervis was discontinued in 1970.
State line monuments
Port Jervis lies near the points where the states of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania come together. South of the Laurel Grove Cemetery, under the viaduct for Interstate 84, are two monuments marking the boundaries between the three states.
The larger monument is a granite pillar inscribed "Witness Monument" and dated 1882. It is not on any boundary itself, but instead is a witness for two boundary points. On the north side (New York), it references the corner boundary point between New York and Pennsylvania that is located in the center of the Delaware River 475 feet (145 m) due west of the Tri-State Rock. On the south side (New Jersey), it references the Tri-State Rock 27.5 feet (8.4 m) to the south.
The smaller monument, Tri-State Rock, marks both the northwest end of the New Jersey and New York boundary and the north end of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania boundary. It is a small granite block with inscribed lines marking the boundaries of the three states and a bronze National Geodetic Survey marker at the triple point, where you can stand in three states at once. It also marks the northernmost point of New Jersey. The current Tri-State Monument is a replacement for the original monument erected in 1774, which was important in resolving the New York - New Jersey Line War.
The first fully developed European settlement in the area was established c.1690, and a land grant of 1,200 acres (490 ha) was formalized on October 14, 1697. The settlement was originally known as Mahackamack, which was its name when it was raided and burned in the American Revolutionary War by British forces under the command of Joseph Brant before the Battle of Minisink in 1779. Over the next two decades, the settlement was rebuilt and more roadways were developed to better connect Mahackamack with the eastern parts of Orange County.
After the Delaware and Hudson Canal was opened in 1828, providing transportation of coal from northeastern Pennsylvania to New York and New England via the Hudson River, trade brought money and further development to the area. A village was incorporated in 1853, and was renamed Port Jervis in the mid-19th century, after John Bloomfield Jervis, the D&H Canal's chief engineer. Port Jervis grew steadily into the 1900s, and on July 26, 1907, it became a city.
Coming of the railroad
The first rail line to run through Port Jervis was the New York & Erie Railroad, which in 1832 was chartered to run from Piermont, New York, on the Hudson River in Rockland County, to Lake Erie. Ground was broken in 1835, but construction was delayed by a nationwide financial panic, and did not start again until 1838. The line was completed in 1851, and the first passenger train – with President Millard Fillmore and United States Senator from New York Daniel Webster on board – came through the city on May 14. The railroad went through a number of name changes, becoming the Erie Railroad in 1897.
A second railroad, the Port Jervis and Monticello Railroad, later leased to the New York, Ontario and Western Railway (O&W), opened in 1868, running north out of the city, and eventually connecting to Kingston, New York, Weehawken, New Jersey and western connections.
Like the D&H Canal, the railroads brought new prosperity to Port Jervis in the form of increased trade and investment in the community from the outside. However, the competition that the railroad brought also hastened the decline of the canal, which ceased operation in 1898, and the railroads were the basis of the city's economy for the coming decades. Port Jervis became Erie's division center between Jersey City, New Jersey and Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, and by 1922, twenty passenger trains went through the city every day, and over 2,500 Erie employees made their homes there.
Unfortunately, the railroads themselves began to decline after the Great Depression, accelerating after World War II with the building of the Interstate Highway System and increased competition from trucking companies. One of the first Class I railroad to shut down was the O&W, in 1957, leaving Port Jervis totally reliant on the Erie. Only a few years later, in 1960, the Erie, also on a shaky financial footing, merged with Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad to become the Erie-Lackawanna. In 1976, along with a number of other struggling railroads, such as the Penn Central, the Erie-Lackawana became part of Conrail. With the breakup of Conrail, the trackage around Port Jervis is controlled by Norfolk Southern.
The decline of the railroads was an economic blow to Port Jervis, one it is still, as of 2011, recovering from.
On June 2, 1892, Robert Lewis, an African American, was lynched on Main Street in Port Jervis after being accused of participation in an assault on a white woman. A grand jury indicted nine people in connection with the lynching. This event would serve as inspiration for one-time Port Jervis resident and author Stephen Crane's 1898 novella The Monster.
Being situated at the confluence of the Delaware and Neversink Rivers has sometimes led to flooding problems. In one such instance associated with Hurricane Diane in 1955 a flood-related rumor started a panic that was later studied in a 1958 report issued by the National Research Council called "The Effects of a Threatening Rumor on a Disaster-Stricken Community".
In addition to having flooded during periods of heavy rainfall, at times ice jams have effectively dammed the Delaware, and in 1875 floes destroyed the existing bridge to Matamoras. In 1981 when a large ice floe resulted in the highest water crest measured to date at the National Weather Service's Matamoras river gage 26.6 feet (8.1 m).
On July 14, 2007, a large parade was held in Port Jervis to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the city's founding. Fire departments and marching bands from the surrounding area marched in the parade. The Fireman's Day Parade, one of the city's longest and most popularly celebrated traditions, is an annual event held every second Saturday in the month of July.
In 2011 The Port Jervis Soap Box Derby officially became the largest local soap box derby in the world.
As of the census of 2000, there were 8,860 people, 3,533 households, and 2,158 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,500/sq mi (1,300/km2). There were 3,851 housing units at an average density of 1,500/sq mi (590/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 82.4% White, 8.2% African American, 0.59% Native American, 0.64% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 2.19% from other races, and 2.26% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.5% of the population.
There were 3,533 households out of which 32.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.9% were married couples living together, 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% were non-families. 32.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.15.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.8% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 15.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,241, and the median income for a family was $35,481. Males had a median income of $31,851 versus $22,274 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,525. About 14.2% of families and 15.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.5% of those under age 18 and 10.3% of those age 65 or over.
Notable current and former residents of Port Jervis include:
- Ed and Lou Banach, 1984 Summer Olympics wrestling gold medalists lived in Port Jervis and graduated from Port Jervis Senior High School.
- Samuel Fowler (1851–1919), represented New Jersey's 4th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1893-1895.
- E. Arthur Gray (1925–2006) was the longest serving Mayor of Port Jervis and was later a New York State Senator. The Port Jervis United States Post Office building is dedicated to his name.
- The city is the birthplace of Baseball Hall of Famer Bucky Harris.
- The Kalin Twins, Hal (1934–2005) and Herbie (1934–2006), were one hit wonders whose record "When" made the top 5 in the U.S. and was number one for five weeks in the U.K. in 1958.
- William Howe Crane (1854-1926), older brother of Stephen Crane lived and practiced law in Port Jervis for many years.
- Harrison, Karen Tina. "10 Coolest Small Towns: Port Jervis". Budget Travel. (September 2008). Retrieved January 13, 2011.
- "Upper Delaware Scenic Byway website
- Graff, Bill (Summer 2006). "Sentinels at the Northern Border" (pdf). Unearthing New Jersey Vol. 2, No. 2. New Jersey Geological Survey.
- Vermeule, C. Clarkson (1888). "Physical Description of New Jersey" (pdf). Final Report of the State Geologist. Vol. I. Topography. Magnetism. Climate. Trenton, New Jersey: Geological Survey of New Jersey. pp. 66–7.
- "D&H Canal & Gravity Railroad", Minisink Valley Historical Society
- "Railroads of Port Jervis". Minisink Valley Historical Society website
- "Port Jervis and the Gilded Age", Minisink Valley Historical Society
- "Lynching at Port Jervis. – Robert Jackson, a colored man, hanged by a mob". New York Times. June 3, 1892.
- "Port Jervis Lynching indictments". New York Times. June 30, 1892.
- Wertheim, Stanley. A Stephen Crane Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997. ISBN 0-313-29692-8. p. 195
- "Boys get ‘K.K.K.’ Warning - Port Jervis Youths are Ordered to restore crosses to Point Peter". New York Times. August 13, 1922.
- "The Effects of a Threatening Rumor on a Disaster-Stricken Community ". National Research Council (NRC). (1958) Retrieved January 13, 2011.
- Weyandt, Kimberly. "Flooding is old news". The River Reporter (September 30 - October 6, 2004). Retrieved March 5, 2011.
However, the NWS' list of "Historical Crests" for the river at Matamoras/Port Jervis shows a peak of 25.5 feet (7.8 m) in 1904, and no record peak in 1981 at all.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- City of Port Jervis historical marker at the church site
- Rimer, Sara. "Port Jervis Celebrates Its Conquering Heroes", New York Times, September 3, 1984. Accessed October 10, 2007. "The Banach boys, as everyone knows them here, came back home this weekend, and as the townspeople celebrated their own Olympic gold medalists with a day of marching bands, waving flags and heartfelt speeches, all the hard times and disasters Port Jervis had endured seemed at last forgotten."
- Samuel Fowler, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed September 4, 2007.
- "E. Arthur Gray Post Office Building" in the Congressional Record (March 10, 2008)
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