Let’s face it: transplants to New York love to scoff at New Jersey. (Interestingly enough, I’ve noticed that native New Yorkers lack this prejudice.) Contrary to this popular stereotype, culture exists in the Garden State.
This week, I enjoyed two noteworthy outings in Jersey City–both within walking distance or a short bus ride for my home.
Braving the (correctly) predicted snowstorm, I attended a reading by Helene Stapinski at WORD in downtown Jersey City on Tuesday night. Ms. Stapinski read from her new book, Murder in Matera (Dey Street Books), and discussed the decade-long research process it involved. The story behind the story, if you will.
At the event, I ran into the president of a park advocacy organization, the artistic director of a dance company, and a lifelong resident with a passion for the Loew’s Theatre. This one reading attracted a microcosm or cross-section of Jersey City’s activists, artists, and intelligentsia.
On Thursday night, Gabrielle Esperdy, a NJIT professor, historian, and author, delivered a brilliant and entertaining lecture on the ever-changing built environment and architecture of the Garden State. Afterward, Esperdy solicited questions from the audience. The discussion could have lasted long into the night.
The New Jersey Council for the Humanities sponsored this event jointly hosted by the Jersey City Office of Cultural Affairs and the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy at the recently restored and beautiful Apple Tree House. (Full disclosure: I organized and moderated the event.)
So, yes, culture exists in Jersey City and New Jersey. No matter what New Yorkers originally from somewhere else might think.