Jersey City

Jersey City is New Jersey's second-largest city. Situated in the northeastern section of the state, Jersey City sits across the Hudson from its older and bigger cousin, New York City.

The Jersey City skyline, as seen from the New York harbor. The tower at the center of the picture is the Goldman Sachs Tower, the tallest building in New Jersey.

Districts

Understand

Brownstones in downtown Jersey City

Jersey City is the second-largest city in New Jersey, trailing Newark in population, but far surpassing Trenton, the state capital. It is located on a peninsula that includes Hoboken to the north, the Hudson River and Manhattan to the east, Bayonne to the south, and the Hackensack River to the west.

Once a humming center of industry, Jersey City housed the booming factories of Colgate and Dixon-Ticonderoga. Once a railroad hub, the rail lines of the country's great railroads, including the famed Pennsylvania Railroad, criss-crossed the city, bringing new immigrants into the American hinterland. Today, Jersey City is neither of these things. Decades of government mismanagement and disappointments had a profound effect on this once booming town. A fear of urban areas caused significant "white flight" to the suburbs in the middle of the 20th century; once affluent areas became centers of poverty and crime. Jersey City was a mirror of what was happening in New York City itself, although perhaps to a more significant and depressing degree.

During the 1970s, immigrants began moving to Jersey City in droves, attracted by cheap real estate and a chance at experiencing the storied American dream. Today, these immigrants have helped to shape the city into a melting pot of the world's cultures and ethnicities. Nowhere in the state is there a city as diverse and as interesting as Jersey City in this respect.

Later, the growing popularity of New York City in the 1990s had a significant impact on Jersey City, too. Old railyards along the waterfront became the sites of gleaming new office towers and high-rise condominiums. Brownstones further inland were fixed up by people moving back into the city. Jersey City's renaissance quickly began.

The city has gone through significant transformations over the course of its lifetime. And it's not over yet. High-rises continue to sprout up along the waterfront like weeds, attracting Manhattanites priced out of the real estate market there, while offering quick commutes to jobs in Downtown Manhattan and Midtown. Office towers continue to fill up with new tenants, including the backoffice functions of many New York City-based companies, earning it the moniker "Wall Street West." (In fact, Jersey City has more Class "A" office space than downtown Pittsburgh or Atlanta.) New stores catering to Jersey City's new gentry continue to pop up almost weekly. It's a city in transition, and it's both exciting and frightening at the same time.

Get in

By air

Jersey City is about a 10-minute ride from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), which is a major hub for United Airlines, and is one of the three airports serving the New York metropolitan area. A taxi to Jersey City from EWR will set you back about $40. If you don't have a lot of bags, consider taking the train. Catch AirTrain from your terminal to the Newark Airport train station. Take a New York-bound New Jersey Transit train one stop to Newark Penn Station, then cross the platform to catch the PATH to Jersey City. The AirTrain/NJ Transit train is $8.25; PATH is $2.50. The ride takes about 45 minutes.

The two other airports in the region are LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), both in the borough of Queens in New York City. A cab from LGA or JFK to Jersey City will be about $100.

By car

Getting into Jersey City by car is not difficult, although finding parking once you are there may be. (Street parking is very difficult to find, and many streets -- particularly in downtown Jersey City -- require parking permits to park for longer than a couple of hours. If you park in a permit zone, your car may be booted by the Parking Authority, especially if you have out-of-state plates.)

Since Jersey City is located at the western end of the Holland Tunnel, your best bet is to take any highway that leads directly to it. On the New Jersey side, this includes Interstate 78 (the Hudson County Extension of the New Jersey Turnpike), US 1-9, and Interstate 280. On the New York side, take the West Side Highway or Canal Street.

By train

Map of PATH system

The PATH runs to Journal Square, Grove Street, Exchange Place, and Pavonia/Newport in Jersey City with connections to Newark, Lower Manhattan, Midtown Manhattan, and Hoboken. It costs $2.50 one-way. You can purchase a single-ride MetroCard from the vending machines near the turnstiles; they accept cash or credit/debit cards. Pay-Per-Ride MetroCards can be used on the PATH, however the Unlimited MetroCards (i.e., the 7-day and 30-day unlimited ride cards for the subway) cannot.

From the Pavonia/Newport PATH station, Lower Manhattan is about seven minutes away, Midtown Manhattan (33rd Street) is about 15 minutes away, and Newark Penn Station is about 25 minutes away. From Newark Penn Station, you can connect to regional New Jersey Transit and interstate Amtrak trains.

The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail , operated by NJ Transit , connects the Jersey City waterfront to Hoboken, Weehawken, Union City, North Bergen and Bayonne.

By bus

NJ Transit and other operators run buses to the Journal Square Transportation Center bus terminal. Greyhound buses stop at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan and the bus terminal at Newark Penn Station. From Port Authority, take NJ Transit Bus 125 which goes directly to Journal Square (the fare is $3.10; trip takes about 30 minutes).

By boat

NY Waterway operates four ferry routes connecting Jersey City to Manhattan. The routes from Port Liberte and Liberty Harbor connect to Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan. The other two ferry routes leave from Exchange Place, and connect to World Financial Center and West 39th Street in Midtown. Check the NY Waterway website for schedules.

Get around

'Dollar vans'


Intrepid wanderers might find the "dollar" vans a quick and cheap way to travel around town. These vans, which are operated largely by Hispanic immigrants to serve that community, arose in response to the lack of frequent and reliable bus service in the area. Although no longer a dollar (the fare is now $1.50), these small buses travel from Newport Mall up Newark Avenue, brush past Journal Square, and travel up Palisade Avenue towards the Heights (similar vans run up Kennedy Boulevard from Journal Square). Also, they run to-and-fro between NYC and Journal Square, the fare being $2.50, which is much cheaper. These vans don't travel on a fixed schedule, but operate relatively frequently during the day (they come by every five minutes or so). To get on board, flag the driver down. To get off the bus, say "next stop" to the driver about a block or so before your desired stop. Pay the driver as you leave the bus.

The best way to navigate within Jersey City, as a tourist, is likely by PATH or light rail. Most of the major sections of town are serviced by these forms of transport. The bus system is arcane, and even locals have difficulty understanding where buses go or how often they run.

Unlike in Manhattan, taxis can be difficult to come by in Jersey City. You often have to call ahead to have one pick you up, although taxis are stationed at the Exchange Place, Grove Street and Journal Square PATH stations. Taxis in Jersey City can run either metered or unmetered (flat rate); the price is generally the same either way. If you are going unmetered, ask the price before getting into the taxi (or ask the dispatcher when you call ahead). Taxis are not cheap; a cab from Grove Street to Journal Square is about $10.

Zipcar is available in Jersey City. Most locations are downtown, although there is also one location each for Liberty State Park and Journal Square. Cars are within walking distance of all PATH stations in Jersey City as well as light rail stops between Newport and Liberty State Park. Zipcar locations can also be found in neighboring Hoboken. Generally, cars are readily available on weekdays. Availability is not as certain on weekends, although some cars should be available if one is flexible and only needs the car for a few hours.

Many streets have bike lanes. The East Coast Greenway runs from Newark, eastward through Lincoln Park and city streets, to the riverfront walkway and ferries.

See

H&M Powerhouse (painted yellow)
Jersey City's City Hall

Do

View of Midtown Manhattan from Jersey City

Buy

Although Jersey City isn't known for its extensive shopping options, the City's new gentry have begun to bring with it classier and pricier shops. Nevertheless, some "old school" shops and bodegas (delis) continue to be mainstays, particularly for locals. Parts of Jersey City are in the Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) program, which allows retailers to charge half the state's sales tax (currently 3.5 percent) rather than the full sales tax rate, and clothing is not taxed at all. Retailers often have stickers on their doors showing that they participate in the UEZ program.

A short walk south from the Journal Square Path, this multi vendor set-up carries a wide assortment of furniture, vintage goods, collectibles, antiques, housewares, fair trade & artisan direct meerchandise, hand made, crafts, and other fineries. While here, enjoy a beverage at Harry Street Coffee - Harry's garden is open whenever the weather permits.

Eat

One of the great things about Jersey City is the diversity of its restaurant options. From wonderfully affordable Indian and Cuban restaurants to uber-trendy hotspots to elegant dining options offering stunning views of Manhattan with dinner, Jersey City has a little something for everyone.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink


Sleep

Many budget-minded New York City tourists decide to stay in moderately-priced Jersey City hotels because of its proximity to Manhattan. Hotels along or near the waterfront are quite safe and very well-appointed. Avoid the strip of motels along US 1-9 (Tonnelle Avenue) north of Journal Square. The area is industrial, unsafe, and is a haven for prostitution and other illicit activities.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Connect

Jersey City is served by two area codes - 201 and the overlay area code, 551. This means that 10-digit dialing is required. When dialing locally (within the 201 and 551 area codes), do not dial +1 before the number. For calls to other area codes, you must dial +1 before the number you're calling. Even though New York City is just across the Hudson, it's considered to be a long-distance call. Of course, with the advent of cellphones, long-distance calling is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

As in Manhattan, internet cafes are fairly uncommon in Jersey City as Wi-Fi is becoming more readily available. Notably, Janam Indian Tea on Grove Street and the Daily Grind Coffee Lounge on Morris Street offer free Wi-Fi connections.

Stay safe

Although most areas in Jersey City are generally safe during the day, exercise caution when walking alone at night. Streets are virtually deserted after midnight, on weekends, and on holidays, making those walking alone easy targets. If possible, walk in large groups, or take a taxi. If you must walk alone, stick to well-lit, major streets and don't flash your wallet, cellphone or iPod.

Try to avoid the southern section of the city, bordering Bayonne, particularly the neighborhood of Greenville. In particular, Martin Luther King Drive and Ocean Avenue should be avoided. Muggings are not entirely uncommon in this primarily low-income area, and drug and gang violence are rampant. Hang around after dark at the light rail stations AT YOUR OWN RISK, as there have been series of robberies and muggings recently on the HBLR lines near Danforth/Garfield/LSP.

Property crimes are becoming increasingly common across all of Jersey City. Do not leave any valuables in your car.

Go next

View of Lower Manhattan from Jersey City
Routes through Jersey City

Allentown Newark  W  E  Manhattan END
New York City Fort Lee  N  S  Newark Philadelphia
New York City Fort Lee  N  S  Newark Cape May
END  N  S  Bayonne Edison
END Hoboken  N  S  Bayonne END
North Bergen Hoboken  N  S  END
END Hoboken  NW  SE  Financial District, Manhattan END
Newark Harrison  W  E  Financial District, Manhattan END
END  SW  NE  Greenwich Village, Manhattan Theater District, Manhattan


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, April 01, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.