Guttenberg was formerly a farm owned by William Cooper, sold in 1853 to a group of New Yorkers, who had formed the Weehawken Land and Ferry Association. Like nearby Union Hill, it was subdivided and lots were sold mostly to Germans. The company ran two ferries, the Hultz and the Flora, which crossed the Hudson from the landings at the foot of Bulls Ferry Road, Pleasant Valley, Fort Lee, and Spring Street in Manhattan.
Guttenberg was formed as a town on March 9, 1859, from portions of North Bergen Township, but remained as a part of the township that was not fully independent. Guttenberg became part of Union Township when it was formed on February 28, 1861, and became fully independent as of April 1, 1878. The city takes its name from Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of movable type.
Galaxy Towers, developed by Prudential Insurance Company, were built in the late 1970s on Boulevard East. The three octagonal skyscrapers rise 415 feet (126 m) and contain 1,075 apartments.