A Brief History
By Seraphina Braddock
The City has a population of approximately 3.5 million, and covers 456 square kilometers. Although the City is located on the northern coast of New Jersey (between New Jersey and New York City), it is, much like Washington, D.C., its own district. The actual City is located on an island, separated from the main land by the Ohnoee River, but the metropolitan area includes the surrounding suburbs and countryside. The City currently holds one electoral vote.
The City was founded in 1739, by a conglomeration of English and Dutch settlers, who bought the land from the Lenni-Lenape chief Tonganowei. The settlement was mostly Puritan, until everyone got sick of wearing big red letters on their clothing, and became non-denominational (as a historical note, over ninety percent of the early settlers were forced to wear these letters, all for relatively strange reasons- a Mr. Moore is recounted as having worn a scarlet G, which historians speculate may stand for "Goats"). The settlement was originally named Alexandria, which they also named the island. Recently uncovered, from the records of a Rev. James A. Miller (1689-1760), is a list of the surnames of Alexandria's founders:
Campbell Evans Gaiman Lee Lentz Mason Miller Moore Packard Powers Reynolds Shuster Siegel Williams
During the American Revolution, Alexandria was a home to both British loyalists and colonial rebels. The only reason that there was never any violence in the settlement (by then a relatively large city- a good amount of the island's forests remained, however) was because all of the citizens had a mutual love for drinking and carousing. This led to an epidemic in 1777 that almost wiped out the entire goat population, and also called for a stronger system of law enforcement.
By the end of the eighteenth century, the city of Alexandria covered the entire island, and was known as a major trading hub in the early 1800's. In 1817, the city was renamed Townsend by its first legally elected mayor… Alexander Townsend. After Mayor Townsend's death in 1820 (he was trampled to death by a flock of angry chickens while sneaking out of the widow Campbell's farmhouse one night), the city was renamed Scisilny. By now the population had become much more mixed, and immigrants from Poland, Ireland, Germany, Italy, and France joined the original English and Dutch settlers. Some of the more notable families include the Adamskis, the Chovys, the Moonns, and the Berensons (who became more famous as pioneers in the West than as residents of Scisilny).
The 1840's were marked by widespread gang fighting, especially among the Moonn, Vance, Powers, Chovys, and McCairn families. The Moonns and Vances eventually made an alliance, and all but eradicated the McCairns, while the Powers moved on to big business and politics. The Chovys eventually moved west. This was known as one of the bloodiest times in the history of the city. Gang fighting began to decrease, however, in 1846, after Everett Evans became Chief of Police. Evans effectively crushed the powerful gangs, arresting patriarchs and other high-ranking members, and driving the gangs underground. The only area where crime continued to thrive was an area called South Side, a poverty-ridden area at the southern most tip of the island. Evans tried, unsuccessfully, to clean up South Side until his death in 1874.
The city held a state of relative neutrality during the Civil War, although its official allegiance was with the Union. By the end of the nineteenth century, the city (which changed its name from Scisilny to Imperium in 1865) was a sprawling metropolis of about 2, 546, 789 people. It had become a major manufacturing and port city, as well as a haven for immigrants deterred from other overcrowded coastal cities, like New York.
In 1900, the city's name changed again, from Imperium to Progress, to mark the turn of the century. By this time, the city was only slightly smaller than it is now. In 1904, Liberty Square was named, and "Winged Victory," an Americanized version of the famous statue, was placed in the center of the Square (the statue was carved by legendary sculpter Alex Laforge). Around this time, City Hall was also refurbished, and the bronze statue of Everett Evans (another Laforge sculpture) was placed outside.
The city grew in wealth and population throughout the early 1900's. In 1913, The Sentinel was created by a wealthy entrepreneur named Crenshaw Howlett (whose descendents now reside in Maine). He appointed Harold Jansen as editor. The Howletts owned The Sentinel for two decades, before it was sold to William Isosceles, founder of Triangle, Inc. in the late thirties.
After this, bigger events such as World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, and the turbulence of the Sixties, seem to overshadow the actual history of the city. In 1931, the Metropolis Tower was built. The tallest buildng in the city, Metropolis Tower measures exactly 101 feet, in Art Deco style.
Over the years, the city's name changed many, many times. It became Hodgkin in 1924, followed by Jefferson in '33, Steel City in '42, and Steveston in '50. The city went through three names under the administration of Mayor Harvey Blanc in 1963: New York, Metropolis, and Gotham. Apparently, the mayor changed the name depending on what comic book he was currently reading. He was finally forced, in 1964, to change the name to Liberty and stick with it. The last recorded name for the city was Excelsior in 1975, but by that time, it was simply being referred to as "the City." This remains the accepted name to this day.
The nineties presented a decade of change for the city. Shameeka Williams became the first black woman to be elected mayor (and remains in that office currently). The "First Super Hero Era" was coming to an end, as young caped crusaders began to spring up all over the nation. The City received its own hints of the upcoming "super wave," with the appearance of "X-Raytor" and the bloody crimes of sixteen year old Greg Kimmel.
In 1999, the City saw the birth of the Justice League, and the beginning of the "Second Super Hero Era." This happened mere days after Captain Destructo, the last "old" super villain who had not been arrested, killed, or forced into retirement, was shot by a SWAT team sniper as he attempted to destroy Liberty Square on the night of July 25. The Justice League performed its first "super heroic" act on the night of December 31, 1999, when they stopped what appeared to be a flying, evil nun from wiping out the revelers in Liberty Square.
This concludes my brief overview of our city's history. I hope to write a book on the subject, and explain everything in detail. Until then, I hope my work will inspire more of you to take an active interest in our local history. Remember: City History Week is the week of February 16! I'll be hosting a walking tour of the City's historical area, which will hopefully, with adequate funding, become something permanent. Thanks for reading.
A Brief List of Geographic Points of Interest
The Dreiberg Building
The Unibank Building
Campion University ("The City's Jesuit University")
The Sentinel Office
Stanley Music Hall
The Richard Simmons Memorial Bridge
Century Plaza Hotel
Channel Five news station
The Norton Ampitheater (closed)
Buy Me Toys
The Mason Mall
Football: The Titans
Owner: Derek Wyman
Manager: Sarah Belleau
Head Coach: Gil Morris
Basketball: The '39ers
Owner: Bo Powers
Manager: Markeese Murphy
Head Coach: Ed Berkowitz
Baseball: The Knights
Owner: Bo Powers
Manager: David Alter
Head Coach: Mike Burns
Hockey: The Wolves
Owner: Crescent Moonn
Manager: Diane Orselli
Head Coach: Rachel Marmeladov
(C) Seraphina Braddock, 2004