A picturesque stretch of pavement in a town full of them, Jones Road winds south from East Palisade Avenue in Englewood to Main Street in Fort Lee. The thoroughfare passes upscale neighborhoods, lovely Flat Rock Brook Nature Center and bustling I-95 along the way.
Not everyone realizes, though, that Jones Road owes its name to the man who arguably deserves credit for Englewood's existence. During the mid-1800s, John Van Brunt and Thomas W. Demarest organized the Northern Railroad, which ran trains through North Jersey and into New York State. In 1858, J. Wyman Jones stepped off one of those trains and fell in love with an unassuming stretch of farmland in Bergen's Northern Valley. Or at the very least, he saw potential.
After convincing some friends to invest in the area, Jones bought up six farms, plotted out and named streets, had a map drawn up and, on Aug. 15, 1859, registered the town of Englewood. (Accounts differ on the origin of the name; some claim it derived from "English Neighborhood," as the area was then known, while others attribute it to the Engle family name and the town's forested nature.)
According to the book This Was Englewood by John Lattimer, Jones beautified the area around the train station to attract potential developers and residents.
"They would see an inviting area when the train stopped here," Lattimer writes, "and would naturally choose it in preference to any of the less attractive stops along the line."
In The Book of Englewood, published in 1922, Adaline Sterling describes Jones as a courteous, good-looking man in his 30s. He had graduated from Dartmouth in 1841 and practiced law in Utica, N.Y. But doctor's orders to find fresh air and a calmer lifestyle led him to rural New Jersey, where he left an indelible imprint.
Over the coming years, Englewood grew exponentially as it attracted residents and merchants alike. A commercial center grew up around Palisade Avenue, which had begun as a muddy dirt track before Jones stepped in.
Jones continued enticing friends and acquaintances, many of whom were involved in finance in New York City, to relocate to "his" town. He named Jones Road after himself, of course, and the northern spur of that same road, Brayton Street, after his friend E.S. Brayton. The sprawling estate Jones built at 59 Walnut Court, near the intersection of Palisade and Jones, still exists today.
In the 1860s, Jones moved on to become head of the St. Joseph Lead Company in Bonne Terre, Mo. But he left behind a thriving community and family ties that have continued to shape Englewood to this day.