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Encyclopedia > Jersey City
The skyline of Jersey City, as seen from Lower New York Bay. The Goldman Sachs Tower, completed in 2004 is in the center of the picture.

Jersey City is a city located in Hudson County, New Jersey. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 240,055, making it New Jersey's second-largest city. It is the county seat of Hudson County6.

Jersey City is on the Hudson River, across from New York City, and forms a part of the New York metropolitan area. The second largest city in the state and a commercial and industrial center surpassed only by Newark, it is a port of entry and a manufacturing center. With 11 mi (17.7 km) of waterfront and significant rail connections, Jersey City is an important transportation terminal point and distribution center. It has railroad shops, oil refineries, warehouses, and plants that manufacture a diverse assortment of products, such as chemicals, petroleum and electrical goods, textiles, and cosmetics. The city has benefited from its position across from the island of Manhattan, and many Jersey City companies are extensions of those originating in New York City. Further developments have included increased housing and shopping areas; other parts of the city, however, remain run-down after years of commercial inactivity. People of various ethnic groups, particularly Hispanics, Filipinos, and Indians, have made their home in Jersey City.

The current mayor of Jersey City is Jerramiah Healy, who is serving out the unexpired term of the late Glenn D. Cunningham, the first African American mayor of Jersey City. Cunningham died of a heart attack in May 2004 a year before his first four-year term was about to end.

The city is presently governed under the Faulkner Act (Mayor-Council) system of municipal government.



The land comprising what is now known as Jersey City was wilderness inhabited by the Lenni Lenape until 1609 when Henry Hudson, seeking an alternate route to East Asia and failing in that mission, anchored his small vessel in Sandy Hook. After spending nine days surveying the area and meeting its inhabitants, he returned to Holland. The Dutch organized the United New Netherlands Company to manage this new territory and named it New Netherlands. In June of 1623, New Netherlands became a Dutch province. Soon after, Michael Pauw, a burgermeister of Amsterdam and Lord of Achtienhoven, received a grant on the condition that he would plant a colony in New Netherlands of not fewer than fifty persons, within four years. He chose the west bank of the Hudson River and purchased the land from the Indians. This land grant is dated November 22, 1630 and is the earliest known conveyance for what is now Jersey City.

The first settlement was at Communipaw, an area adjacent to present-day Liberty State Park. A house was built here in 1633 for Jan Evertsen Bout, superintendent of the colony, which was then called Pavonia. Shortly after, another house was built at Harsimus (near the present-day corner of Fourth Street and Marin Boulevard). This second house became the home of Cornelius Van Vorst, who succeeded Bout as superintendent. These were the first two houses in Jersey City.

Jersey City was incorporated as The City of Jersey in 1820, and reincorporated under its present name in 1838.

Jersey City was a dock and manufacturing town for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. Much like New York City, Jersey City has always been a landing pad for new immigrants to the United States. In its heyday before World War II, German, Irish, and Italian immigrants found work at Colgate, Chloro, or Dixon Ticonderoga. However, the largest employer at the time was the railroads, whose national networks dead-ended on the Hudson River. Until 1911, when the Pennsylvania Railroad Company built the first tunnel under the river, rail passengers transferred in Jersey City to ferries headed to Manhattan or to trolleys that fanned out through Hudson County and beyond. The last streetcar was decommissioned in 1949 and today, only one rail line, the former Erie Lackawanna Railroad, survives, with its terminus in Hoboken.

From 1917 to 1947, it was ruled by Mayor Frank Hague, whose name is synonymous with the early 20th century urban American blend of political favoritism and social welfare known as bossism. "Hanky-Panky," as he was known then, ruled the city with an iron fist while, at the same time, moulding governors, United States senators, and judges to his whims. He was known to be loud and vulgar, and would often dismiss his enemies as "reds" or "commies." Citizens of Jersey City dared not speak out against him for fear of being harassed by Hague's police or being ostracized or publicly embarrassed in some way. Hague also lived like a millionaire, despite having an average annual salary of $8,000. He was able to maintain a fourteen-room duplex apartment in Jersey City, a suite at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in Manhattan, and a palatial summer home in Deal, New Jersey, while travelling to Europe yearly in the royal suites of the best liners.

The city developed a reputation for corruption, even after Hague left office. By the 1970s, the city was caught up in a wave of urban decline that saw many of its wealthy residents fleeing to the suburbs, and led to an influx of working class citizens scarred by rising crime, civil unrest, political corruption, and economic hardship. From 1950 to 1980, Jersey City lost 75,000 residents, and from 1975 to 1982, it lost 5,000 jobs, or 9 percent of its workforce. [1] (http://www.jcedc.org/timehascome.html) The city experienced a surge of violent crime during this time period. New immigrants sought refuge in Jersey City because of low housing costs, despite the fact that many of Jersey City's neighborhoods were decaying and suffering from abandonment and neglect.

However, the city is quickly undergoing a renaissance. As the Waterfront continues to grow, Jersey City's downtown neighborhoods are experiencing rapid gentrification as yuppies and other professionals working in Manhattan are beginning to move in. The downtown area has a significant number of Victorian brownstones, and at prices that are far lower than one would find, for a similar home, in Manhattan, or even Brooklyn.

Additionally, many financial corporations including Chase Manhattan Bank, Merrill Lynch, and the investment firm Charles Schwab have relocated to Jersey City or expanded their offices in the city since the September 11, 2001 attacks.


Jersey City is home to the New Jersey City University (NJCU) and Saint Peter's College. It is also home to the Hudson County Community College. McNair Academic High School, the most recently founded public school in Jersey City, was ranked as the top high school in New Jersey according to New Jersey Monthly magazine.


Jersey City is a city of neighborhoods, each with a different aesthetic and architectural style, to some degree. Downtown Jersey City includes the Waterfront (including Newport, Harsimus Cove, Paulus Hook, Port Liberte, and Exchange Place), Hamilton Park, Grove Street, and Van Vorst Park. Neighborhoods further out from downtown include Liberty State Park, Jersey City Heights (or, simply, "The Heights"), Western Slope, Journal Square, West Side, Bergen, Greenville, and Lafayette. These designations are unofficial and, to some degree, subjective.

Newport Tower

The Historic Downtown is certainly the richest part of Jersey City, in part due to the influx of commuting professionals and is popular largely because of its proximity to Manhattan and its classic urban architecture, including a significant stock of Greek Revival and Italianate brownstones, some of which were constructed in the 18th century. There is a stark contrast in the Downtown area between the densely populated three- and four-story brownstones of Hamilton Park and Van Vorst Park, the suburban-style retail of the Newport Mall area, and commercial/residential towers of Newport and Exchange Place.

The Jersey City Heights is on the Palisades overlooking Hoboken. Central Avenue is the primary commercial strip of the area, with residential districts flanking both sides of the street. West of Central is comprised mostly of post-war two and three family houses, and remains traditionally middle-class. To the east of Central, the Heights becomes poorer and ethnically diverse. Palisade Avenue, the street on the edge of the Palisades, is predominately Latino. Both Palisade and Ogden Avenues offer breathtaking views of the New York City skyline.

Once the commercial downtown of Jersey City, Journal Square has become rather derelict in recent years, but is in the process of rehabilitation, in part due to the efforts of the Journal Square Restoration Corporation (JSRC) and the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation (JCEDC). Here, Kennedy Boulevard and Bergen Avenue, main thoroughfares in the city, are at their widest, lined on both sides by brick houses and medium-density apartment complexes. Of note is the Loew's Theatre on Kennedy Boulevard, which is one of the city's most noted landmarks. It is one of the best preserved movie palaces in the Tri-State area.

Greenville is the catch-all name for the neighborhoods immediately south of Journal Square. These neighborhoods are primarily African American and Irish, while the architecture is dominated by detached two- and three-story houses. Most of the residents of this area are lower-to-middle income.

Jersey City's West Side has long been considered undesirable and seedy, but Lincoln Park is not. The area is very ethnically diverse, and is home to many Filipinos, Latinos, Indians, and people of Arabic descent.


Image of Jersey City taken by NASA. (The red line demarcates the municipal boundaries of Jersey City.)
Image of Jersey City taken by NASA. (The red line demarcates the municipal boundaries of Jersey City.)

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 54.7 km˛ (21.1 mi˛). 38.6 km˛ (14.9 mi˛) of it is land and 16.1 km˛ (6.2 mi˛) of it is water. The total area is 29.37% water. Jersey City is bordered to the east by the Hudson River, to the north by Union City and Hoboken, to the west by Kearny and Newark, and to the south by Bayonne.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 240,055 people, 88,632 households, and 55,660 families residing in the city. The population density is 6,212.2/km˛ (16,093.7/mi˛). There are 93,648 housing units at an average density of 2,423.4/km˛ (6,278.3/mi˛). The racial makeup of the city is 34.01% White, 28.32% African American, 0.45% Native American, 16.20% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 15.11% from other races, and 5.84% from two or more races. 28.31% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 88,632 households out of which 31.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.4% are married couples living together, 20.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 37.2% are non-families. 29.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.67 and the average family size is 3.37.

In the city the population is spread out with 24.7% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 35.1% from 25 to 44, 19.7% from 45 to 64, and 9.8% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 32 years. For every 100 females there are 95.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 92.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $37,862, and the median income for a family is $41,639. Males have a median income of $35,119 versus $30,494 for females. The per capita income for the city is $19,410. 18.6% of the population and 16.4% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 27.0% of those under the age of 18 and 17.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


Jersey City is served by a number of highways including the New Jersey Turnpike, Interstate 78, U.S. Highways 1 and 9, and New Jersey Routes 139 and 440.

The Holland Tunnel, which carries Interstate 78, connects Jersey City to Manhattan.

The city is also heavily served by public transportation. The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, which connects Bayonne to Weehawken, has 13 stations in Jersey City. The PATH system has four stations in Jersey City: Exchange Place, Pavonia-Newport, Grove Street, and Journal Square. Finally, ferry lines operate between Jersey City (Newport, Liberty Harbor, Harborside, Colgate, Port Liberte) and Manhattan (Midtown, the World Financial Center, and Pier 11). Ferries are operated by NY Waterway.


  • The Statue of Liberty's "technical" address is 1 Communipaw Avenue, in Jersey City. Ellis Island is also "technically" a part of Jersey City.
  • The Colgate Clock, which is advertised by Colgate as the largest in the world, sits in Jersey City and faces Lower New York Bay and Lower Manhattan. The clock, which is 50 feet in diameter with a minute hand weighing 2,200 pounds, was erected in 1924 to replace a smaller one.
  • The tallest building in New Jersey is Jersey City's Goldman Sachs Tower, which was completed in 2004. Other notable buildings in Jersey City include 101 Hudson Street, the Newport Tower, and the Exchange Place Centre.

External links

  • City of Jersey City (http://www.cityofjerseycity.com/)
  • Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy (http://www.jerseycityhistory.net/jclandmarks.html)
  • Jersey City Museum (http://www.jerseycitymuseum.org/)
  • Maps and aerial photos
    • Street map from Mapquest (http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?latlongtype=decimal&latitude=40.722102&longitude=-74.065385&zoom=6)
    • Topographic map from Topozone (http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?lat=40.722102&lon=-74.065385&s=200&size=m&layer=DRG100)
    • Aerial photograph from Microsoft Terraserver (http://terraserver.microsoft.com/map.aspx?t=1&s=14&lon=-74.065385&lat=40.722102&w=750&h=500)

  Results from FactBites:
Jersey City, New Jersey - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3043 words)
Jersey City is across the Hudson River from New York City, and is part of the New York metropolitan area.
Jersey City is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cities in the country, with an almost equal mix of non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic fls, Asians, and Latinos or in other words, multicultural.
Jersey City is bordered to the east by the Hudson River, to the north by Union City and Hoboken, to the west by Kearny and Newark, and to the south by Bayonne.
  More results at FactBites »



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