Then & Now

Photo by Karen Zautyk
Top: Photo courtesy Kearny Public Library/Museum Bottom: Photo by Karen Zautyk

Regarding the site depicted in this week›s ’Then’ photo, the following description is by William C. Brigham Jr. published in The Observer in 1933: ‘The New Jersey Home for Disabled Soldiers, located on Belgrove Drive, north of Bergen Ave., is one of the oldest [1887] and most familiar landmarks’ in Kearny. Built to accommodate Civil War veterans, ‘it also became a haven for Spanish-American War soldiers.’

’For years, it was a common and beautiful sight for passersby to see the old veterans sitting under the trees . . . and telling a group of wide-eyed children their heroic tales of Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg and Chancellorsville.’

As the number of veterans diminished, ‘it became necessary to consolidate the home with the one at Menlo Park, and in June 1932, the old soldiers, numbering only 46, of which just 13 were Civil War veterans, left the Arlington home. At present, the last building has been razed and the destiny of the plot has not been decided . . .’

The destiny of the plot was to become Veterans’ Field (or ‘Bunnyland Hill,’ named for the small zoo that once was there.) And last week, it was once again full of wide-eyed children, fascinated by a State Police helicopter at the KPD’s National Night Out Against Crime.

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