Jersey City and America: Will We Ever Value Culture?

This past Sunday, I drove around Jersey City with the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy to survey homes, businesses, and assorted properties redeveloped in an aesthetically- and historically-minded fashion over the past year. Jersey City’s bounty of interesting, beautiful buildings astounded me. These treasures exist well beyond the sanctioned historic districts and the increasing affluent downtown.

Well south of Journal Square, in a notorious, crime-ridden pocket of the city, I walked along a three-block street of lovely, red-brick row homes with ornate cornices and tall front stoops. While some houses cried for a loving hand to restore them to their past glory, other homes were well-maintained with small front gardens and freshly painted iron gates. If Jersey City continues to be a residential choice, all the homes will receive much-deserved attention and care.

Jersey City’s neighborhoods hold former fraternal lodges, mothballed warehouses, hulking industrial structures, and the past homes of prominent, yet oft-forgotten physicians, businessmen, attorneys, and politicians. These spaces carry the spirit and essence of history. Unfortunately, walking through Jersey City, one would barely know it.

Parodi Cigar Company factory, Jersey City, New Jersey (Photograph by author). Another forgotten or underutilized treasure in the city.

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