Close-Up on Jersey City

 Portions of this article have been updated.


It seems that everyone knows one person who lives in Jersey City. By no coincidence, the home of the Statue of Liberty (1 Communipaw Avenue is its technical "street" address) has long welcomed immigrants of all persuasions—even a certain species of young refugees. "We're in a fight with Williamsburg," says the single-named artist lounging on the sidewalk in front of the single-named coffee shop that's like home to his equally sprawled cabal. And while some downtowners are conflicted as to whether or not further influx is good for the "scene," a thriving and growing scene it is.

Playing catchup: Jersey City, Williamsburg’s latest rival?
photo: Cary Conover
Playing catchup: Jersey City, Williamsburg’s latest rival?

Boundaries: Hoboken and Union City to the north, the Hudson River to the east, Bayonne to the south, and the Hackensack River to the west

Public Transportation: Take the PATH train to Pavonia-Newport, Grove Street, or Journal Square; about 15 minutes to 33rd Street. The sparkling new Hudson-Bergen Light Rail connects western Jersey City with Exchange Place and Newport Center, as well as with Hoboken Terminal and Bayonne.

Main Drags: John F. Kennedy Boulevard, Bergen Avenue, and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard anchor the westernmost part of the city. Washington Street runs through the waterfront districts.

Average Price to Rent: Locals are attracted to the relative bargain of space, both indoors and out. Studio, $1000 to $1600 ($900 to $1,200); one-bedroom, $900 to $2,500 ($800 to $2,000); two-bedroom, $1,300 to $4,000 ($1,250 to $4,000); three-bedroom, $2,500 and up ($1,200 to $8,000).

Average Price to Buy: Single-family house, $275,000 and up ($109,000 to $345,000); one-bedroom condo, $300,000 and up ($65,000 to $203,000); two-bedroom condo,$450,000 and up ($60,000 to $223,000); three-bedroom condo, $600,000 and up ($219,000 to $407,000).

Museums, Galleries, Studios: The Jersey City Museum (350 Montgomery Street) houses a large permanent collection of mostly contemporary art by New Jersey–based artists. Filled with artist studios, yoga spaces, ateliers, and galleries, 111 First Street (the former P. Lorillard Tobacco Company building) anchors the Powerhouse Arts District (formerly WALDO—Work and Live District Overlay/Ordinance). The Chamot Gallery (owned by longtime Jersey City resident Charles Chamot) is a 1,500-square-foot space that champions local arts.

Local Shops: Iris Records (114 Brunswick Street) is a pharmacy turned vinyl lover's paradise that's only open on Fridays from 3 to 9 p.m. Check out their Web site (irisrecs.com) or call ahead (201-217-0588) for surprise schedule changes.

Green Space: Liberty State Park is 1,212 acres of greenery built around the Central Railroad of New Jersey terminal that served as America's welcome mat for the millions of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island. The hulking terminal and a performance space dominate the northern end of the park, and the western edge cradles the Liberty Science Center.

Cultural Institutions: New Jersey City University and St. Peter's College are both located here. The Afro-American Historical Society Museum is dedicated to collecting the history and culture of the African American experience in New Jersey (Greenville Branch of Jersey City Public Library, 1841 Kennedy Boulevard).

Local Landmarks: The gorgeous Loew's Jersey City, built in 1929 and slated for demolition in the late 1980s, is once again a beacon amid the strip of discount stores and fast-food joints opposite the stalwart Journal Square, with monthly showings of original 35mm prints of classic films. Ellis Island? The Statue of Liberty? Both are proud residents of Jersey City proper.

Famous Residents: Helene Stapinski, author of the critically acclaimed Five-Finger Discount, is a Jersey City girl; Nathan Lane was born here; Queen Latifah owns an artist management company here; and indie-rock band Rye Coalition hails from and plays in the city as well.

Best Restaurants: Nouveau-Euro Marco & Pepe (289 Grove Street) will satisfy even the most savage of brownstone bargain hunters. And Sushi Tango (516 Jersey Avenue) has a gay friendly night the last Saturday of the month.

Best Bar/Club: Miss a few rounds of your scheduled pool league at Booney’s (141 Bright Street), and you'll be axed—not just from the tournament but from the premises—by the feisty motorcycle mama who's been running the joint for years.

Happenings: Parades and cultural heritage festivals and the Jersey City Artist Studio Tour, oh my! Call 201-547-4333 for studio-tour information, and 201-547-4361 for a schedule of cultural events.

Politicians: Jersey City is served by Mayor Jerramiah Healy, Council President Mariano Vega, Jr., and an eight-member governing body.

Crime Stats:The New Jersey State Police reported for Jersey City 23 murders, 71 rapes, 1440 robberies, 1408 aggravated assaults, 2052 burglaries, and 1730 motor vehicle thefts in 2004. (The New Jersey State Police reported 26 murders, 89 rapes, 1,312 robberies, 1,464 aggravated assaults, 2,356 burglaries, 4,985 larceny-thefts, and 2,425 motor-vehicle thefts for 2001).

 
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