The “Horse-Shoe” section in Jersey City’s old Second Ward was an area of tenements and railroad yards and a bar on almost every corner. It was called the Horseshoe because its curved shape.

Immigrants and sons of immigrants who were mainly Irish, Catholic and poor worked in the railroad yards and on the docks, which were part of their neighborhood. Crime flourished, gambling and drinking were common & brawls were constant.

One of its most prominent residents was Frank Hague, who was born on “Cork Row” in the Horseshoe became mayor of Jersey City and had an uninterrupted run as mayor for 30 years and 8 elections. Frank Hague’s parents had emigrated from County Cavan and settled in the Horseshoe.

As a politician Hague wanted strong enforcement of all “moral” laws and his insistence that “any man, woman, or child may walk the streets of Jersey City at any hour of the day or night, without fear.” Hague’s strong-arm police force ensured it.

Cork Row eventually vanished, to give way to the Holland Tunnel connecting New Jersey to New York. The railway yards and waterfront gave way to modern office buildings and apartments.

Owen Forsyth

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