Recently, I watched Urban Roots, a documentary on the urban agriculture movement in Detroit, Michigan. The film was released in 2011, just as the Motor City approached the height of its fiscal and governmental crisis. The state of Michigan assumed control of the city in 2012, and the city declared bankruptcy in 2013.
During the last several decades, Jersey City has redefined itself from a floundering industrial hub to a center for white-collar office work. At the same time, an aspiring arts community has seen its fortunes rise and fall and rise again, and urban-minded individuals and families view Jersey City as a place to move to, not to move from. This pattern augurs well for the future of Jersey City.
Large commercial structures and massive apartment buildings dot the Hudson River waterfront and its adjacent neighborhoods, and similar projects are now slated for areas throughout the city. From the corner near my home, I can see the fifty-three-story tower being erected at Journal Square. Is the building boom and population influx ultimately good for the city? Depends whom you ask.
Opinions and hyperbole aside, a growing city is a dynamic, vibrant city. Large and small cities with shrinking resources, populations, and tax bases unfortunately are all too common throughout the the United States. Several such cities, for example, Camden and Trenton, can be found in New Jersey.
When looking at the Hudson River boardwalk or the soon-to-be tallest building in the Garden State, a different question should be posed: are these intriguing, daresay inspiring spaces? Additionally, as the city develops, is the government keeping pace with exciting public and civic spaces? Jersey City appears to be failing on both counts. Sadly enough, this is anything but a shock.