Remembering The Past: Perth Amboy Memories

by Diane Norek Harrison

PERTH AMBOY-A Woodbridge reader wrote after my July 17 column where I had mention of “Gugies” (American Smelting and Refining):

“Do you know that the Guggenheims owned the company? I was told that the plant’s site on State Street was built on their summer vacation home property from the late 19th century, when the area was a fashionable retreat.  According to a former Perth Amboy plant manager, the brick vacation house served as an office, then a chemistry lab, until its demise in the late 60s.”


Here are some memories from C.T. Fields:

“I remember when the way to school and work was to take the railroad tracks, but watch out for the trains. But, we knew the schedules for the trains.

“Silk’s Drug Store on the corner of State and Broad streets, was where you sat on wrought iron chairs and tables with marble to eat a dish of ice cream and a two cent side of seltzer or water.

“Taking the ferry from the end of Smith Street was 15 cents a trip to Tottenville to the pavilion, the rapid transit (Rat Trap) to St. George for the trip to New York City. A walk past the firehouse on State Street and Miller, past the horses selling papers to the barge captains docked at the end of Buckingham Avenue. I remember getting coal to heat the house. I’d watch the engineer on the coal train going to the dumper. He would brake the train so a few pieces from each car would fall off the top just enough that it would reach where you stood with your burlap sack to take your haul home.

“Perth Amboy was a busy town on Friday nights. Plenty of stores and plenty of people spending what they made in the local factories. But don’t take your car. The town was alive with cars from the train station to city hall circle with what we called “crusin’.”

Thank you to my contributors!

If you have your own memories or past information for Carteret, Edison, Metuchen, Perth Amboy, Sayreville, South Amboy or Woodbridge you can email me at or send copies of your material to me c/o CMD Media, 1139 East Jersey St., Suite 503, Elizabeth NJ, 07201.

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