19th century.
Meadowlands seen from Route 7, showing at least four different species of waterfowl.
Marshlands in Lyndhurst
Meadowlands Environment Center
Mill Creek Point walkway with the Meadowlands Sports Complex at far background right.
The Meadowlands as seen from an abandoned section of the Montclair-Boonton Line.

New Jersey Meadowlands, also known as the Hackensack Meadowlands after the primary river flowing through it, is a general name for a large ecosystem of wetlands in northeastern New Jersey in the United States, a few miles to the west of New York City. During the 20th century, much of the Meadowlands area was urbanized, and it became known for being the site of large landfills and decades of environmental abuse. A variety of projects began in the late 20th century to restore and conserve the remaining ecological resources in the Meadowlands.


The Meadowlands stretch mainly along the terminus of the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers as they flow into Newark Bay; tributaries of the Hackensack include Mill Creek, Berrys Creek, and Overpeck Creek. The present Meadowlands consist of roughly 8,400 acres (34 km2) of open, undeveloped space in addition to developed areas that had been part of the natural wetlands which were heavily developed by H. Bert Mack and M. Bolero in the 1960s.[1] The area includes portions of Kearny, Jersey City, North Arlington, Secaucus, Lyndhurst, Rutherford, East Rutherford, Carlstadt, North Bergen, Moonachie, Ridgefield, South Hackensack, Teaneck, and Little Ferry.


The area was forested with Atlantic white cedars before the early Dutch settlers (17th century) cleared the forests and used dikes to drain the land. The Dutch farmers used the drained tidal lands to create "meadows" of salt hay; hence, the area was referred to by locals as the Meadows. In more recent times, the Meadowlands became known for being the site of large landfills and decades of environmental abuse.[2]

Human effect

Before European settlement, the area consisted of several diverse ecosystems based on freshwater, brackish water, and saltwater environments. Large areas were covered by forests. Considered by residents of the area through the centuries as wastelands, the Meadowlands were systematically subject to various kinds of human intervention. The four major categories are:

The Meadowlands Sports Complex, the site of multiple stadia and a racetrack, was built in the Meadowlands beginning in the 1960s. The race track was the first venue in the complex to open, on September 1, 1976.[4]

New Jersey Meadowlands Commission

Main article: New Jersey Meadowlands Commission

The location of the New Jersey Meadowlands near the center of the New York metropolitan area and its outgrowth into New Jersey makes conservation of the vast wetland a difficult proposition. In spite of this, the New Jersey Legislature, promoted by Richard W. DeKorte, created the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission (since renamed New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and now known as the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority after being merged with that agency) in 1969 to attempt to address both economic and environmental issues concerning the wetland region. The commission was authorized to review and approve land development projects, manage landfill operations, and oversee environmental restoration and preservation projects.

The commission merged with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority in 2015.[5][6]

Conservation efforts

Even after experiencing grave environmental damage, the Meadowlands contain many species of fish, crustaceans, and mollusks and are considered to be an important bird habitat. Congress has provided funds through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to protect and preserve the Meadowlands and establish organizations to research the unique animals and their interaction with the ecosystem.[7] The ecosystem is a fragile environment that waterfowl and other species of animals need. Richard W. DeKorte Park in the Meadowlands is known for bird watching, particularly for migratory waterfowl.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Orlando Sun Sentinel: "H. Bert Mack, Businessman, Philanthropist" May 11, 1992
  2. ^ Rojas, Rick (April 26, 2017). "Invisible 'Bird Killer' Lurks in Revitalized New Jersey Meadowlands". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Marshall, Stephen (December 2004). "The Meadowlands Before the Commission: Three Centuries of Human Use and Alteration of the Newark and Hackensack Meadows". Urban Habitats. Center for Urban Restoration Ecology. eISSN 1541-7115.
  4. ^ Sullivan, Joseph F. (1976-09-01). ""They're Off!" Tonight at Meadowlands Race Track". The New York Times.
  5. ^ "Christie Urged to Turn Down Meadowlands Legislation". 28 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Christie signs controversial Meadowlands overhaul, but says bill will be revised". 5 February 2015.
  7. ^ "EPA Provides $1 Million to Protect Wetlands in New Jersey". News Releases. New York, NY: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 2015-12-09.
  8. ^ "New Jersey Birds: Meadowlands". Archived from the original on 2009-08-26. Retrieved 2009-01-02.

Further reading

40°48′57″N 74°02′23″W / 40.815888°N 74.039612°W / 40.815888; -74.039612