General OT August 8, 2017

Welcome To The Old Tappan Update

Gerrit Haring House in 1937

In our first post we provide a bit of the early history of our beloved town. This history is taken from “Old Tappan, Centennial 1894-1994 Edition,” written by the Old Tappan History Book Committee and printed by Simon & Schuster, 1994.

Old Tappan dates back to the year 1682, when the land was purchased from the Lenni Lenape Indians. In 1687, legal title to the “Tappan Patent” was granted by the governor of New York.

Tappan derives from the Lenni Lenape word Tuphanne (reputed to mean cold water)  and was the area around present day Piermont, bordered by Nyack to the North, with the outlying area to the west being called ould tappan. It is theorized as coming from the Dutch uyt-tappan, meaning out tappan and which was then corrupted to oud tappan and eventually ould tappan or old tappan. In any case, the region has been referred to as old tappan since the first settlement in 1687.

That first settlement was by thirteen Dutchmen and three free black men. It is believed to be the only land grant of its kind in the country to include both whites and blacks on an equal basis. The Tappan patent ran westward to the Hackensack River from West Nyack to Harrington Park. For 86 years Old Tappan was part of Orangetown, Orange County, New York. Change in jurisdiction occurred in 1773 and the state line was marked with milestones in 1774, making Old Tappan part of the Province of New Jersey. Soon after the region joined others to incorporate as Harrington Township, and Old Tappan was a part of it for 119 years.

Though no major Revolutionary War events took place within the borders of Old Tappan, both the Baylor Massacre in River Vale and the trial and execution of the British spy Major John Andre in Tappan happened within 200 yards of the borders.

On October 16, 1894 the Borough of Old Tappan was created by a vote of 28-2. It was one of 28 boroughs to organize that year as a result of the State Legislature’s Borough Act to eliminate large school districts and create separate boroughs. By 1900 the population was 269 and in 1904 the first telephone line was installed in Lachmund’s Hotel. By 1950 the population was 828 and Old Tappan joined with 6 other Northern Valley towns to form the regional high school district.

There is a wealth of wonderful and interesting history in the Old Tappan Centennial book. If you are new to the town or have been here some time, we recommend you go to the Old Tappan Library and check it out. It is fun to look back in time and see how the land changed, where buildings or businesses that have long been gone once were located, to see what places are still in existence, and to get a better sense of what this town of Old Tappan once was and where it might now be going.

We hope you bookmark our blog and come back frequently to see what is going on in Old Tappan. Some of the things we will be writing about are our local businesses and citizens, important local news items, our schools and their events, as well as keeping you updated with expert advice on real estate, home ownership tips, and the pulse of the market. So enjoy it, and see you around town!


By: Paul Tarsney for The Adamo Group

Better Homes & Gardens / Rand Realty