Fort Lee in New Jersey

Friday, 13 April 2018 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General

Fort Lee Historic Park © Hudconja/cc-by-sa-3.0

Fort Lee Historic Park © Hudconja/cc-by-sa-3.0

Fort Lee is a borough at the eastern border of Bergen County in New Jersey in the New York City Metropolitan Area, situated atop the Hudson Palisades, with a population 37,000. The borough is the western terminus of the George Washington Bridge and is located across the Hudson River from the Manhattan borough of New York City. Named for the site of an early American Revolutionary War military encampment, it later became the birthplace of the American film industry.

Fort Lee is named for General Charles Lee after George Washington and his troops had camped at Mount Constitution overlooking Burdett’s Landing, in defense of New York City. It was during Washington’s retreat in November 1776 (beginning along a road which is now Main Street) that Thomas Paine composed his pamphlet, The American Crisis, which began with the recognized phrase, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” These events are recalled at Monument Park and Fort Lee Historic Park.

Fort Lee Historic Park © Hudconja/cc-by-sa-3.0 Church of the Good Shepherd (Episcopal) © Jim.henderson Residential high-rises are a prominent feature of Fort Lee © Hudconja/cc-by-sa-3.0 Constitution Park in Koreatown © ChaChaFut George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River © flickr.com - John O'Connell/cc-by-2.0 Palisades Interstate Parkway © Famartin/cc-by-sa-3.0
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George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River © flickr.com - John O'Connell/cc-by-2.0
The history of cinema in the United States can trace its roots to the East Coast where, at one time, Fort Lee was the motion picture capital of America. The industry got its start at the end of the 19th century with the construction of Thomas Edison‘s “Black Maria”, the first motion picture studio in West Orange. New Jersey offered land at costs considerably less than New York City, and the cities and towns on the North River (Hudson River) and Hudson Palisades benefited greatly as a result of the phenomenal growth of the film industry at the turn of the 20th century. Film-making began attracting both capital and an innovative workforce, and when the Kalem Company began using Fort Lee in 1907 as a location for filming in the area, other filmmakers quickly followed. In 1909, a forerunner of Universal Studios, the Champion Film Company, built the first studio. They were quickly followed by others who either built new studios or who leased facilities in Fort Lee. In the 1910s and 1920s, film companies such as the Independent Moving Pictures Company, Peerless Studios, The Solax Company, Éclair Studios, Goldwyn Picture Corporation, American Méliès (Star Films), World Film Company, Biograph Studios, Fox Film Corporation, Pathé Frères, Metro Pictures Corporation, Victor Film Company, and Selznick Pictures Corporation were all making pictures in Fort Lee. Such notables as Mary Pickford got their start at Biograph Studios.

With the offshoot businesses that sprang up to service, the film studios, for nearly two decades Fort Lee experienced unrivaled prosperity. However, just as the development of Fort Lee production facilities were gaining strength, Nestor Studios of Bayonne, built the first studio in Hollywood in 1911. Nestor Studios, owned by David and William Horsley, later merged with Universal Studios; and William Horsley’s other company, Hollywood Film Laboratory, is now the oldest existing company in Hollywood, now called the Hollywood Digital Laboratory. California’s more hospitable and cost-effective climate led to the eventual shift of virtually all filmmaking to the West Coast by the 1930s. At the time, Thomas Edison owned almost all the patents relevant to motion picture production. Movie producers on the East Coast acting independently of Edison’s Motion Picture Patents Company were often sued or enjoined by Edison and his agents, while movie makers working on the West Coast could work independently of Edison’s control. Television and film in New Jersey remains an important industry. Since 2000, the Fort Lee Film Commission has been charged with celebrating the history of film in Fort Lee, as well as attracting film and television production companies to the borough.

Read more on Borough of Fort Lee, Wikivoyage Fort Lee and Wikipedia Fort Lee (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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