The reform movement came to a halt as New Jersey mobilized for World War I (1914-1918). Refineries in Bayonne and Linden and ammunition plants in Kenvil, Kingsland, Morgan, Parlin, and Pompton Lakes were supplying the United Kingdom and France even before the United States entered the war. German submarine activity off the coast and explosions at the Kingsland and Black Tom munition dumps turned many New Jersey residents against Germany. Thousands of American soldiers sailed to Europe from Hoboken. Camp Merritt near Cresskill and Fort Dix near Wrightstown were built as troop centers. Picatinny Arsenal near Matawan was expanded, and Port Newark was developed. The war accentuated the growth of industry and the movement into urban areas. New Jersey manufacturers suffered a slight decline after the war, but generally production levels remained high.
The 1920s were a golden age for downtown cities, which were beginning to be eclipsed by suburban sprawl. New office towers, hotels, and neon-lit movie palaces graced Newark, Jersey, and Camden. Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague dominated Hudson County, controlling prosecutors and influencing the election of governors and United States senators. He approved huge construction projects like the Holland Tunnel, completed in 1927 to connect the city with New York City, and the Pulaski Skyway, opened in 1932 across the Passaic and Hackensack rivers.
But vehicle tunnels under the Hudson River and piers built by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey dispersed railroad and shipping volume, and with them waterfront jobs, away from Jersey City and Hoboken. The silk and worsted trades died off in Paterson and Passaic as women’s fashions changed and factory owners shifted to lower-wage sites in the South. Newark’s share of state employment dropped from one-quarter in 1909 to one-tenth by 1939, as factories moved to the cheaper suburbs.
In sharp contrast, the outlying sections of Bergen, Essex, Union, Mercer, and Camden counties underwent a suburban boom. Paterson and Passaic spilled over into Clifton, which grew by 30,000 in the 1920s. While Newark’s population approached its plateau, Irvington grew from 25,480 to 56,733, Nutley from 9421 to 20,572, and outlying Maplewood changed from a village of 5,283 to a commuting center of 21,738. As automobile registration spiraled, the legislature supplemented a modest $7 million highway bond issue in 1916 with $77 million authorized in the 1920s. In 1927 the state highway commission recommended major east-west motor arteries to funnel commuter traffic from the great bridges, the Benjamin Franklin, soon to span the Delaware River at Camden, and the George Washington being built over the Hudson River at Fort Lee. Public Service Electric and Gas, hurt by a 1923 trolley drivers’ strike, started to phase out its suburban electronic trolley fleet for diesel-powered buses. "New Jersey" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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