Weehawken and its hideous past


Weehawken is a place known mostly for the wonderful view of the Manhattan skyline that it offers. On my trips from Syracuse to New York by the greyhound, I almost always made it a point to wake up before the bus reached this place, which gave me a wonderfully crafted gist of what to expect when the bus came out on the other side of the Lincoln Tunnel. I have always wanted to take a picture at that very moment, but somehow I get so awestruck by the majestic view that I forget to take my camera out to shoot.

It was only recently that I came to know about the shady yet funny history that was tagged along with this wonderful place in New Jersey. This goes all the way to the beginning of the New American history, when Thomas Jefferson ruled the place. At one point he had a vice president named Aaron Burr and a secretary of state named Alexander Hamilton who were involved in a nasty fight, which they decided to resolve through a pistol fight at this place known as Weehawken. As it happened, the followers of both men, decided to take a ferry from Manhattan (the, then capital of United States of America), cross the River Hudson, to Weehawken. The fight was in the night and hence there were not many around to witness the “civil war”, except those who woke up hearing the gunshots maybe. In the “war between the rulers” that followed, it turned out that the secretary of state was not as well taught in handling a pistol as the vice president and hence had to die a painful death! Soon after, the vice president took a ferry back to Manhattan with all his compatriots.

As the rule goes in the “ancient times”, a person convicted of crime in one state could not be punished as long as he is outside that state. In other words, if the person never stepped into New Jersey, his whole life, he could not be punished for a crime he committed in New Jersey. That’s exactly what this vice president decided to do. He never stepped into New Jersey, the rest of his life. He went on to rule as the deputy for a glorious five more years, after which he stepped down graciously.

So here’s a shot (a camera shot! ;-)) to Weehawken, with all its beauty and its hideous past – a “wavy” Manhattan skyline

a "wavy" Manhattan skyline

A horribly distorted version, through the moving greyhound bus. Blame it on the shock absorbers of the bus 🙂

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~ by Niranjan Nandakumar on May 19, 2008.

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