By Alexandra Antonucci and Alexis Morales
The Downtown neighborhood of Jersey City includes both the Historic Downtown district as well as the Waterfront. With Hoboken to the North and Liberty State Park to the South, the Downtown neighborhood offers photo-worthy views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
History of Downtown:
In her entertaining memoir, Five-Finger Discount: A Crooked Family History, Helene Stapinski described Downtown of the 1960s and 1970s as a crime ridden no-man’s land of grifters and criminals. But that’s not the way it always was. From the mid-18th to mid-19th centuries, Downtown Jersey City boasted three passenger railroad terminals (Pavonia Terminal, Exchange Place, and Communipaw), a bustling business district and tony residential neighborhoods. Then, like so much of urban America, Downtown suffered middle class flight and urban decay. It wasn’t until the 1980s that developers and urban homesteaders re-discovered Downtown’s Brooklyn-like housing stock and proximity to Manhattan. Since then, Downtown has experienced a slow but steady resurrection. Newark Avenue and Grove Street have become the most developed, popular areas booming with both stores and restaurants. While Hamilton and Van Vorst Parks are surrounded by historic Brownstone homes, the Newport and Exchange Place neighborhoods are filled with apartment complexes, hotels, and office buildings. Newport is also home to a popular shopping mall, Newport Centre, which was built in 1987.
According to data from Statistical Atlas, who compiles their data from US Census Bureau’s, 2010 census and from the 2012-2016 American Community Survey. Downtown has the following population:
Race: 37.9 percent White, 25.5 percent Asian, 21.9 percent Hispanic and 9% Black.
Household Type: 36.1 percent one-personed house, 7.9 percent single female, 2.9 percent single male, 35.8 percent married and 17.2 percent other non-family.
The Downtown neighborhood has three PATH Stations: the Exchange Place Station (68 Christopher Columbus Drive), the Newport Station (90 Pavonia Avenue) and the Grove Street Station (325 Grove Street). All stations except for Grove Street are handicap accessible.
The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail has multiple stops through the Downtown neighborhood, with stations at Newport, Harsimus Cove, Exchange Place, Harborside and Essex Street.
NJTransit also operates regular commuter buses through the area.
The Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza (134-158 Newark Avenue) is a road completely blocked off for pedestrians to walk in the street, and is home to plenty of shops, restaurants, grocery stores and bars.
Downtown Jersey City is home to many historical and noteworthy places of interest. The Katyn Memorial (2 Exchange Place) was unveiled in 1991 and is a memorial located by the city’s waterfront, and is dedicated to Polish prisoners of war who were murdered by the order of Joseph Stalin during World War II. The statue, which depicts a bronze soldier, bound and gagged as he is impaled by a bayonet, is a chilling reminder of the solders who never returned home.
The New York-facing Colgate Clock is located at the end of Hudson and Essex Street, and has a diameter of 50 ft. It was first built in 1924 when Colgate-Palmolive had a main factory located in Jersey City. Although the company left in the 1980s, the clock remains to this day.
It’s not every day that legendary New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells gives your restaurant a three out of four stars. It’s also not every day that in his review, he says that “New York’s best pizza is in New Jersey.” However, Razza secured both of those accomplishments, and has been serving wood-fired pizza with buffalo mozzarella and Jersey tomatoes ever since. Visit them at 275 Grove Street to see for yourself.
The Downtown Farmer’s Markets are held from May 11 through December 21, 2020 outside of the Grove Street PATH Plaza every Monday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Paulus Hook Market is held from April 27 to through December 21 at the entrance of Morris Canal Park on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Van Vorst Farmer’s Market is held on the corner of Montgomery and Jersey Avenue, and has produce, coffee, knife sharpening and more. The market is held every Saturday from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., and runs from April 27 through December 7.
The Hamilton Park Farmer’s Market is held every Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., with fresh produce, flowers and occasionally, live music. The market runs from May 1 through December 18.
Ward E Councilman James Solomon has served as the Downtown City Council representative since 2017, and focuses on “fighting for progressive values,” according to his contact page. He also adjuncts at three Jersey City colleges: Saint Peter’s University, New Jersey City University and Hudson County
Rachel Sieg serves as the Executive Director for the Historic Downtown Special Improvement District (HSID), which is a private partnership that works with businessowners and local government to “promote the area, improve the services provided and undertake any and all activity to make Historic Downtown Jersey City a better place to live, work and visit,” according to their website.
Monthly meetings are held on the third Tuesday of every month in the Caucus Room of City Hall and are open to the public