As the emergent Palisades define Weehawken's natural topography, so too the Lincoln Tunnel (which cuts the town in half) looms as an inescapable man-made feature. Geographically, Weehawken has distinct neighborhoods: Downtown (or The Shades), The Heights, Uptown (which includes Kingswood Bluff), and The Waterfront, which since 1990s has been developed for transportation, commercial, recreational and residential uses. Though some are long abandoned (e.g., Grauert Causeway), there are still several outdoor public staircases (e.g., Shippen Steps) throughout the town, and more than 15 "dead-end" streets. At its southeastern corner is Weehawken Cove which, along with the rail tracks farther inland, defines Weehawken's border with Hoboken. Its northern boundary is shared with West New York. Traversing Weehawken is Boulevard East, a scenic thoroughfare offering a sweeping vista of the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline. Local zoning laws prohibit the construction of high-rise buildings that would obstruct sight-lines from higher points in town.
The name Weehawken is generally considered to have evolved from the Algonquian languageLenape spoken by the Hackensack and Tappan. It has variously been interpreted as rocks that look like trees, which would refer to the Palisades, atop which most of the town sits, or at the end (of the Palisades).
In 1674, New Netherland was ceded to the British, and the town became part of the Province of East Jersey. John Luby, in 1677, acquired several parcels comprising 35 acres (140,000 m2) along the Hudson. Most habitation was along the top of the cliffs since the low-lying areas were mostly marshland. Descriptions from the period speak of the dense foliage and forests and excellent land for growing vegetables and orchard fruits. As early as 1700 there was regular, if sporadic ferry service from Weehawken. In 1752, King George II made the first official grant for ferry service, the ferry house north of Hoboken primarily used for farm produce, and likely was sold at the Greenwich Village landing that became Weehawken Street.
Map (1841) showing Dea's Point, the original Hamilton Monument, and Highwood, the estate of James Gore King.
During the American Revolutionary War, Weehawken was used as a lookout for the patriots to check on the British, who were situated in New York and controlled the surrounding waterways. In fact, in July 1778, Lord Stirling asked Aaron Burr, in a letter written on behalf of General George Washington, to employ several persons to "go to Bergen Heights, Weehawk, Hoebuck, or any other heights thereabout to observe the motions of the enemy's shipping" and to gather any other possible intelligence. Early documented inhabitants included a Captain James Deas, whose stately residence at Deas' Point was located atop a knoll along the river.Lafayette had used the mansion as his headquarters and later Washington Irving came to gaze at Manhattan.
Not far from Deas' was a ledge 11 paces wide and 20 paces long, situated 20 feet (6.1 m) above the Hudson on the Palisades. This ledge, long gone, was the site of 18 documented duels and probably many unrecorded ones in the years 1798–1845. The most famous was that between General Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury, and Colonel Aaron Burr, sitting third Vice President of the United States, which took place on July 11, 1804. The duel was re-enacted on July 11, 2004, the 200th anniversary of the fatal duel, by descendants of Hamilton and Burr. In the mid-19th century, James G. King built his estate Highwood on the bluff that now bears his name, and entertained many political and artistic figures of the era, including Daniel Webster.
With the ferry, the Hackensack Plank Road (a toll road that was a main artery from Weehawken to Hackensack), and later, the West Shore Railroad, built during the early 1870s, the waterfront became a transportation hub. The wealthy built homes along the top of the New Jersey Palisades, where they might flee from the sweltering heat of New York, and breathe the fresh air of the heights. Weehawken became the playground of the rich during the middle to late 19th century. A series of wagon lifts, stairs, and even an elevator designed by the same engineer as those at the Eiffel Tower (which at the time was the world's largest)  were put in place to accommodate the tourists and summer dwellers. The Eldorado, a pleasure garden, drew massive crowds.
The turn of the 20th century saw the end of the large estates, casinos, hotels, and theaters as tourism gave way to subdivisions (such as Highwood Park and Clifton Park) and the construction of many of the private homes still seen in town. This coincided with the influx of the Germans, Austrians, and Swiss, who built them and the breweries and embroidery factories in nearby Union City and West New York. While remaining essentially residential, Weehawken continued to grow as Hudson County became more industrial and more populated. Shortly after the First World War, a significant contingent of Syrian immigrants from Homs (a major textile center in its own right) moved into Weehawken to take advantage of the burgeoning textile industry.
There were 5,712 households of which 20.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.9% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 49.0% were non-families. 36.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the township, 16.3% of the population were under the age of 18, 7.9% from 18 to 24, 39.1% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 12.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37.2 years. For every 100 females there were 95.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.0 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $62,435 (with a margin of error of +/- $6,887) and the median family income was $90,903 (+/- $17,797). Males had a median income of $53,912 (+/- $7,426) versus $50,129 (+/- $3,238) for females. The per capita income for the township was $45,206 (+/- $5,011). About 10.1% of families and 12.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.2% of those under age 18 and 20.4% of those age 65 or over.
There were 5,975 households, out of which 20.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.1% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.8% were non-families. 35.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 3.02.
In the township the population was spread out with 16.6% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 42.4% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 95.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.9 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $50,196, and the median income for a family was $52,613. Males had a median income of $41,307 versus $36,063 for females. The per capita income for the township was $29,269. About 9.3% of families and 11.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.0% of those under age 18 and 11.3% of those age 65 or over.
Weehawken, with a population density about equal to that of Jersey City, is among the most densely populated municipalities in the United States .
Hackensack Plank Road, an early colonial thoroughfare climbing from The Shades to The Heights and further north.
The "Horseshoe" on Shippen Street, a cobbled double hairpin street leading to Hackensack Plank Road and Shippen Street Steps, at the bottom of which is located Weehawken's original town hall, and is the site of a planned historical museum.
Hackensack Number Two, a reservoir previously part of Hudson County's water system along with #1 (demolished), in the Gregory/Highpoint Historic District, named for the river from which water was pumped into them.
The Alexander Hamilton Memorial, which was the first memorial to the duel with Aaron Burr, was constructed in 1806 by the Saint Andrew Society, of which Hamilton had been a member. A 14-foot (4.3-m) marblecenotaph, consisting of an obelisk, topped by a flaming urn and a plaque with a quote from Horace, surrounded by an iron fence, was constructed approximately where Hamilton was believed to have fallen. Duels continued to be fought at the site, and the marble was slowly vandalized and removed for souvenirs, leaving nothing remaining by 1820. The tablet itself did survive, turning up in a junk store and finding its way to the New York Historical Society in Manhattan, where it still resides.
From 1820 to 1857, the site was marked by two stones, with the names Hamilton and Burr, placed where they were thought to have stood during the duel. When a road from Hoboken to Fort Lee was built through the site in 1858, an inscription on a boulder where a mortally wounded Hamilton was thought to have rested—one of the many pieces of graffiti left by visitors—was all that remained. No primary accounts of the duel confirm the boulder anecdote. In 1870, railroad tracks were built directly through the site, and the boulder was hauled to the top of the Palisades, where it remains today, located just off the Boulevard East. In 1894, an iron fence was built around the boulder, supplemented by a bust of Hamilton and a plaque. The bust was thrown over the cliff on October 14, 1934 by vandals, and the head was never recovered; a new bust was unveiled on July 12, 1935.
The plaque was stolen by vandals in the 1980s, and an abbreviated version of the text was inscribed on the indentation left in the boulder, which remained until the 1990s, when a granite pedestal was added in front of the boulder, and the bust was moved to the top of the pedestal. New markers were added on July 11, 2004, the 200th anniversary of the duel.
As of 2013[update] members of Weehawken's Township Council are Mayor Richard F. Turner, Carmela Silvestri Ehret (1st Ward), Rosemary J. Lavagnino (2nd Ward), Robert J. Sosa (3rd Ward) and Robert Zucconi (at large).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 7,335 registered voters in Weehawken, of which 3,717 (50.7%) were registered as Democrats, 850 (11.6%) were registered as Republicans and 2,753 (37.5%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 15 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 72.4% of the vote here (3,895 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 26.1% (1,406 votes) and other candidates with 1.0% (52 votes), among the 5,381 ballots cast by the township's 8,230 registered voters, for a turnout of 65.4%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 65.0% of the vote here (3,250 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 33.8% (1,688 votes) and other candidates with 0.4% (26 votes), among the 4,997 ballots cast by the township's 7,293 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 68.5.
In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 69.9% of the vote here (2,209 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 25.1% (792 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 3.8% (119 votes) and other candidates with 0.9% (27 votes), among the 3,161 ballots cast by the township's 7,220 registered voters, yielding a 43.8% turnout.
Weehawken Volunteer First Aid and the Weehawken Police Department were among the many Hudson County agencies that responded to the January 2009 crash of Flight 1549, for which they received accolades from the survivors.
The Weehawken Sequence, an early 20th-century series of approximately 100 oil sketches by local artist John Marin, who worked in the city, is considered among, if not the first, abstract paintings done by an American artist. The sketches, which blend aspects of Impressionism, Fauvism and Cubism, have been compared to the work of Jackson Pollock.
The Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center is a non-profit organization whose mission is to build a world-class performing arts center on the waterfront. Since 2004, it has presented both indoor and outdoor events at Lincoln Harbor.
Formula One plans to host a street race on a circuit stretching 3.2 miles (5.1 km) in Weehawken and West New York called Grand Prix of America, that was planned to start in June 2013. The three-day event is expected to attract 100,000 people and bring in approximately $100 million in economic activity.
^Weehawken, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, accessed June 13, 2007. "A township in Hudson County, N.J., seven miles northeast of Jersy [sic] City. The name was originally an Algonquin Indian term and later changed by folk-usage to a pseudo-Dutch form. Its exact meaning is unclear, but variously translated as place of gulls,rocks that look like trees,maize land,at the end (of the Palisades) and field lying along the Hudson."
^Van Valen, James M. History of Bergen County, New Jersey, p. 86. New Jersey Publishing and Engraving Co., 1900. Accessed January 14, 2012. "For many years the farmers and others in the northern part of Bergen County reached New York by means of the Weehawken Ferry established by Samuel Bayard about the year 1700. The charter for this ferry was granted by George II in 1752 to Stephen Bayard."
^via Associated Press. "Booker is officially a U.S. senator after being sworn in", NJ.com, October 31, 2013. Accessed October 31, 2013. "Former Newark Mayor Cory Booker was sworn in as a Democratic senator from New Jersey today, taking the oath of office, exchanging hugs with Vice President Joe Biden and acknowledging the applause of friends and family members seated in the visitor's gallery that rings the chamber.... Booker, 44, was elected to fill out the term of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died earlier this year."
^Schools, Weehawken School District. Accessed July 22, 2013.
^Green, Jennie. "Not Too Fancy, Except for the Views". The New York Times. January 23, 2005. Accessed July 8, 2011. "According to Mr. McLellan, the school superintendent, small schools and class sizes are the key to success. Weehawken High School, which encompasses Grades 7 through 12, offers more advanced-placement courses than any other school in the state, he said, while 85 to 90 percent of the students are college bound. Moreover, state testing at Grades 4, 8, and 11 have placed Weehawken students in the top 10 percent statewide."
^Welcome, Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center. Accessed July 8, 2011.
^Baime, A.J. "Formula One Roars to Banks of Hudson", The Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2011. Accessed October 27, 2011. "Formula One, the most popular, technologically advanced and glamorous form of international motorsport, will hold a Grand Prix race on the banks of the Hudson River against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline in June 2013. If the current lineup of teams remains the same, that means 24 cars racing at 200-plus mph will let loose some 17,000 horsepower on closed-off public roads in Weehawken and West New York, N.J., in front of a crowd that, if expectations are fulfilled, would double the capacity of Yankee Stadium."
^Wenik, Ian (August 16, 2013). "Reality TV". The Union City Reporter. pp. 1 and 9.
^Fiedwald, Will (July 7, 2011), "The Ballad of a Jazz Royal", The Wall Street Journal, retrieved 2011-07-07, "Finally, in 1958, the baroness moved to a mansion in Weehawken, N.J., which became what might have been the metropolitan area's greatest jazz salon ever. Monk, Barry Harris and other greats lived there for long periods, and more incredible music was heard there than in most concert halls."
^ abThelpnious Junior biography, Jazz (TV series). Accessed July 8, 2011. "He made three final performances with an orchestra at Carnegie Hall, and appeared with a quartet at the Newport Jazz Festival New York in 1975 and in 1976, but otherwise spent his final years in seclusion in Weehawken, New Jersey, at the home of the Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, his lifelong friend and patron."
^Levine, Daniel Rome. "Triunfador Franck de Las Mercedes", ABC News, August 16, 2007. Accessed August 18, 2008. "Standing in the middle of his one-bedroom loft apartment in an industrial part of Weehawken, N.J., the 34-year-old abstract painter covers a small brown cardboard box in white acrylic paint and then carefully drips red and hot pink paint on it."
^Watrous, Peter. "Be-Bop's Generous Romantic", The New York Times, May 28, 1994. Accessed January 14, 2012. "Mr. Harris moved to New York in the early 1960's and became friends with Thelonious Monk and Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, Mr. Monk's patron. Eventually, Mr. Harris moved to her estate in Weehawken, N.J., where he still lives."
^"Out of the Dark Room", Time, March 16, 1962, accessed June 13, 2007. "In many ways, it took Marin 40 years to find himself. Raised by two maiden aunts in Weehawken. N.J. (his mother died nine days after his birth), he attended Stevens Institute of Technology for a year, drifted from job to job, spent six frustrating years trying to turn himself into an architect."
^Staff. "B-52s 'Party' lands close to hometown", The Record (Bergen County), August 15, 2009. Accessed January 14, 2012. "But Athens is a university town – cosmopolitan – with transplants from all over. Which is how Pierson (Weehawken-born, Rutherford-raised) and Schneider (Newark and Long Branch) came to be in the area, ready to join forces with several local musicians to create New Wave's quirkiest party band."
^Hendrix, Grady. "The Cartoonist Who Crashed the Party", The New York Sun, September 1, 2006, accessed June 13, 2007. "Tashlin, a native of Weehawken, N.J., got his start animating "Looney Tunes" in the early 1940s before becoming the go-to guy for comedy as one of the few directors to successfully make the transition from animation to live-action, shaping star vehicles for one outsized celeb after another: Bob Hope, Jayne Mansfield and, most famously, Jerry Lewis."