Fort Lee is adjacent to New York City via the George Washington Bridge.
Land Area: 2.58 square miles
Single-family dwellings: 2,387
Owner-occupied units: 8,904
Renter-occupied units: 6,332
Number of households: 15,236
Median rent: $1,001
Median value single-family dwelling: $283,000.00
Per capita: $31,758
Number of retail stores: 269+
Retail sales: $259,961,000.00
Map of Fort Lee
Directions to Fort Lee Borough Hall
From East: Take upper level of George Washington Bridge. Get off at Fort Lee exit (Center & Lemoine Avenue). At light, make a right. Proceed one block and make a right onto Lemoine Avenue. Go 2 lights and make a right onto Main Street. Borough Hall is at 309 Main Street, on your right hand side.
From South and West: Follow Route 80, Route 46, or Route 4 East to exit which says “Last Exit in NJ, Fort Lee, Palisade Interstate Parkway”. (From NJ Turnpike/95 North, take Exit 18W and follow signs for George Washington Bridge to last exit in NJ). Follow in an easterly direction, crossing the following streets: Fletcher, Linwood, Center. The next street is Lemoine Avenue - make a right onto Lemoine. Follow to the next light and intersection, which is Main Street. Make a right turn onto Main Street. Borough Hall is at 309 Main Street, on your right hand side.
From North: Take Palisades Interstate Parkway to Hudson Terrace South. Go under George Washington Bridge, cross Marginal Road, bear to the right fork (sign says “To Main Street”). Make a right turn onto Main Street. Borough Hall is at 309 Main Street, on your right hand side.
Fort Lee Historical Highlights
The first people known to have lived in what is the present Borough of Fort Lee were the Lenni Lenape Indians. The first recorded reference to the area atop the Palisades which is now Fort Lee was by Captain Henry Hudson in 1609. In 1664, the British gained control of the Dutch lands in New Jersey and New York. In 1756, Stephen Bourdette purchased 400 acres of wooded land north of present-day Edgewater; present-day Fort Lee was part of his property. The stone house Mr. Bourdette built was the only one for nearly a mile around. This same house later became General George Washington’s headquarters during the American Revolution.
Fort Lee found its place in American history during the 1776 British campaign to control New York City and the Hudson River. After the siege of Boston, Washington turned his attention to the defense of New York and the Hudson Valley. The British plan was to control the length of the Hudson with the overwhelming dominance of its Royal Navy. The plan, if successful, would split the colonies in half and hopefully bring an early end to the Revolution.
Washington felt it imperative, along with the construction of fortifications at New York City and Long Island, to build new fortifications along the Hudson River. In July of 1776, work was begun on the site which was originally named Fort Constitution and was eventually named for General Charles Lee, who aided in the defense of New York City. On the opposite New York shore, work had already begun on Fort Washington.
On July 12, Admiral Richard Howe sent two British naval vessels up the Hudson River. Cannon fire from Fort Washington had little effect on their passage. Washington then ordered that work on Fort Lee continue as quickly as possible. Using Major General Israel Putnam’s suggestion, sunken ships were placed in the river channel. With these obstructions and artillery fire from the sister forts, it was felt that no British shipping could sail up the Hudson without sustaining severe losses.
King George III, wanting to end the Revolution as quickly as possible, sent the largest armada of British ships and troops that had ever left England’s shores. By mid-August, Sir William Howe, British Commander-in-Chief, had assembled an army of over 31,000 British, Hessian, and loyalist troops on Staten Island. On August 22, the British landed on Long Island and five days later forced the Americans to retreat to New York City. Through September and October, the British and American forces were involved in battles at New York City, Harlem Heights, and White Plains. The British then turned their forces against Fort Washington. On November 16, Fort Washington fell to an overwhelming assault by the British forces who captured over 2,000 American troops. Following the fall of New York to British occupation, the Continental Army crossed the Hudson River and scaled the Palisades to man the fortifications on the bluffs of Fort Lee. Washington designated the area of what is now Monument Park and the Fort Lee Museum as an encampment for his troops. Huts were constructed around Parker’s Pond and ovens carved of stone.
General Washington, realizing that with the loss of Fort Washington, Fort Lee was of little military value, made preparations to evacuate his remaining army through New Jersey. An orderly retreat, however, was not in store for the Americans. On November 20, General Cornwallis ferried between 6,000 and 8,000 men across the Hudson River north of Fort Lee. When word of the crossing reached Washington, he ordered the abandonment of Fort Lee and an immediate retreat before his army was cut off and captured by the British. Most of the American supplies and artillery had to be left behind. During these darkest days for the Revolution when it seemed as though the Continental Army could not survive, Thomas Paine, who was in Fort Lee with Washington’s army, wrote the famous words, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
Birthplace of the Motion Picture Industry
Most people are familiar with the term “cliffhanger”, used to describe a movie filled with suspense, danger, and “seat-of-your pants” thrills. But did you know that the term originated out of the early serials filmed on the New Jersey Palisades in Fort Lee–the birthplace of the motion picture industry in America? For comprehensive information on the origin and growth of the film industry in Fort Lee, please visit the official web site of the Fort Lee Film Commission at www.FortLeeFilm.org.
The George Washington Bridge
George Washington BridgeThe George Washington Bridge crosses the Hudson River between Fort Lee and Upper Manhattan, constituting a part of Interstate Highway I-95. Originally designed by Swiss-American engineer Othmar H. Ammann, then-Chief Engineer for the Port Authority, ground was broken for the original six-lane bridge in October of 1927. The bridge was first opened to traffic on October 25, 1931; however, volume required that two additional lanes be created in 1946.
As the traffic volume continued to grow, on August 29, 1962, the Lower Level was opened. This made the George Washington Bridge one of the world’s busiest bridges and the world’s only 14-lane suspension bridge. In 1981, the American Society of Civil Engineers designated the GWB as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
Opened to traffic: October 25, 1931
Lower Level opened: August 29, 1962
Bus Station opened: January 17, 1963
Length: 4,760 feet or 1,451 meters (between anchorages)
Length of center span: 3,500 feet or 1,067 meters
Width: 119 feet or 36 meters
Width of roadway: 90 feet or 27 meters
Height restrictions, Lower Level: 13' 6"
Height of tower above water: 604 feet
Water clearance at mid-span: 212 feet or 65 meters
The Upper Level is suspended from four steel cables, each 36 inches in diameter and composed of 26,474 wires. The cables are carried by saddles on top of two 604-foot-high steel towers.
On the New Jersey side, the tower rises out of the river 76 feet from shore; on the New York side, the tower stands on land.
Number of lanes:
Upper Level = 8 + 2 footways
Lower Level = 6
Original cost: $59,000,000
Traffic Volume - Eastbound toward NYC (1999)
Typical weekday traffic: 151,685
Total annual traffic: 53,417,768