The Edgewater Colony, formerly known as Burdett's Landing, is rich in history stretching back to the Revolutionary War. The landing and its approaches, together with the batteries and fortified camp on the hill, were known as Fort Constitution and Fort Lee. Between these two military posts, the area was strongly guarded and successfully maintained the connecting link with Fort Washington across the river and the surrounding countryside. The fortifications engaged the British Frigates and ships of war; many important campaigns were won due to the armaments mounted on this Edgewater shore.
In the 1860’s, the Fort Lee Park Hotel defined the 26-acre property. The hotel was popular with many New Yorkers and offered entertainment, gambling, and an array of sports. The Hotel was completely destroyed by a fire in 1914, and became a homestead for many poor working class families.
In the 1920’s the Hartnett Camps were founded, a riverfront summer campground where vacationers set-up lean-tos for $30.00 a season. During the Great Depression, many of the day workers, hired to build the George Washington Bridge (Phase I 1929-1933), set up temporary camps or bungalows on the property. When Mr. Hartnett died, he left a stipulation in his will that the residents who were renting bungalows on the campsite were to be given first option to buy shares of the property. The residents accepted the offer and in 1948 , the Hartnett's Camps became the Edgewater Colony, Inc., a private cooperative of 116 homeowners.
Today, residents do not own the land their homes sit on, nor can they draw official property lines, even though they maintain their “areas” by mowing lawns, planting gardens and taking care of their homes like any other suburbanites. Residents pay a quarterly maintenance to sustain the streets, sewer system, trash pickup, snow removal, etc. As for ownership, residents don’t hold property deeds in the usual sense, but are issued a share at a cost of $1,300, which has remained unchanged since 1940.
A Board of ten Directors governs the Colony. Since it is a corporation, it has a charter and bylaws which must be upheld by all shareholders.
Burdett’s Ferry by James Renner
During the American Revolution a ferry proved important to the Patriot cause prior to and during the Battle of Fort Washington in 1776. Etienne Burdett, a merchant of Huguenot parentage who settled in Manhattan bought several hundred acres of property on the shore of the Hudson River near Fort Lee, New Jersey.
The family-run ferry service started in 1758. Burdett established a trading post and built his home, a gambrel-roofed structure at a forest clearing at the foot of a gorge on what is now River Road in Edgewater. This house stood at the site until 1899. From the colonial period to the present, this particular section of Fort Lee was known by various names such as Tillie Tudlem, Tillie Toodlem, Fort Lee Park, Pleasant Valley and Burdett’s landing.
A road connecting the ferry landing to the top of the Palisades was to become known as the Hackensack Turnpike. This route is presently known as Hudson Terrace and connected with Main Street in Fort Lee.
Originally, the ferry was used for the transporting of goods and passengers on a type of sailing boat called "piraguas" or "pirogues". It was one of the major connecting points for the farmers who brought their products from the inland towns of New Jersey to New York City.
The ferry had passed through the family and was doing a brisk business. During the American Revolution, Peter Burdett (Etienne’s bother) had become an ardent patriot operating the ferry for the American Army as a supply line as well as a communications network. His wife, a well cook, cooked flapjacks for General Washington and his staff officers when they were in the area of the Burdett Landing prior to the fall of New York.
This story was related to the public by Peter’s grandson T. Fletcher Burdett, a Fort Lee resident in the 1900s.
Burdett’s Ferry had the distinction of being involved in two military engagements during the siege of New York. The first was on August 18, 1776, and the second was on October 27, 1776. Both occasions were against the British ships HMS Rose and HMS Phoenix, both of which sustained damage.
Burdett’s Ferry was pressed into service by the Continental Army to serve as a vital link between Fort Lee and Fort Washington. In the last days before the Battle of Fort Washington on November 16, 1776, there had been much activity between the forts. There was a meeting between General Washington and his senior officers in the middle of the Hudson River the night before the battle.
The last time the ferry was used was to transport Captain Gooch to Fort Washington to deliver a letter from General Washington to Colonel Robert Magaw, the commanding officer of the beleaguered fort. Unfortunately, the message was never received due to the heat of battle and the fort being surrounded by the British troops advancing from the south and Hessians from the north. Captain Gooch barely made it back to the boat he used and returned safely to Fort Lee to report the incident to Washington.
In time Burdett’s Ferry was no longer needed. It was replaced by other ferry routes that plied the Hudson River in the 19th and 20th centuries.
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