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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The Peach Tree War

My blogging has been sporadic during the past several months, and my attention has wandered far afield from my original subject of Jersey City. This post marks an intellectual return to the forgotten Dutch empire on the banks of the Hudson River.

Following the Pavonia Massacre, hostilities between Dutch colonists and the surrounding Native American tribes continued until a treaty was brokered in 1645. Two years’ later in 1647, Willem Kieft was recalled to the Netherlands to account for his troubled leadership and management of the colony. Peter Stuyvesant arrived in New Netherland in 1847 to replace Kieft as the Director-General. Kieft died in a shipwreck off the coast of Wales en route to Amsterdam to address  the charges against him. Continue reading

Returning to the (Virtual) World …

After several months of silence, dear reader, I am returning my attention to Another Town on the Hudson. Since the summer, I’ve been working on a manuscript and teaching. Both efforts have demanded all my creativity and intelligence.

Charles E. Mills, Ben Franklin, Editor and Writer (c.1909-1920).     (Courtesy of Library of Congress)

In my free moments, I’ve been fixing up my wife’s and my home and puttering around my garden. In other words, indulging in my urban homesteading fantasies and pretending that the modern world does not encircle me. The dream of the 1890s, I guess.

St. Francis
The Garden, November 2015. St. Francis awaits the winter months.

Over the next several weeks, I plan on exploring a variety of subjects and venturing slightly away from the original mission of this blog. Jersey City will continue to be the centerpiece of this blog, but I want to discuss several of my other diverse interests, too.

I would present you with a list, but I do not wish to dampen any surprises. Until we meet again …




The Pavonia Massacre

A little-known but bloody episode on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River enraged and united the rival Native American tribes throughout New Netherland against the Dutch colonists and their corporate governorship. This war nearly ended the Dutch East India Company’s colonial experiment in North America.

Today, historians call this event Kieft’s War.

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Why Jersey City?

About ten years ago, I moved to Jersey City, following a girl (now my smart, sophisticated, and stylish wife) and needing cheap rent. The second reason likely sounds familiar to many of the newer residents discovering and building their households in Jersey City since its “rebirth” in the 1990s. I immediately fell in love with my new home and found myself choosing to spend more and more of my free time and my weekends here instead of braving the commute into Manhattan or its much hipper and more interesting sister borough Brooklyn.

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