Walk the Walkway
June 26, 2016
Downtown Jersey City
On a top-ten weather day with bright sunshine, clear skies and low humidity, 25 walkers, including 4 HRWC Board members, representatives of the Bayonne Nature Club, many experienced walkers and walkers from New York, Englewood, NJ, and communities along the Walkway walked the Walkway in Downtown Jersey City. The Walkway in Jersey City is fully built and is heavily used by the public for recreation and enjoyment on weekends. During the week, the Walkway is an integral and vital part of the intense business and commercial community on the Jersey City waterfront.
The group gathered at 9:00 AM on the Walkway at Exchange Place near the PATH and Light Rail stations. After warm greetings among previous walkers and a brief discussion of the Conservancy’s role in assisting the NJDEP in their oversight of the construction and maintenance of the Walkway, the walkers headed off at 9:30 AM with water, maps and sunblock in hand.
The initial segment of walk was toward the south past the Goldman Sachs building into the recently completed segment of the Walkway in Veterans Park. This is where the landmark Colgate Clock is located to commemorate when the area where the Goldman Sachs building stands and the surrounding area was a major factory for Colgate producing toothpaste and toiletries. The Colgate Clock was recently renovated with electronic controls replacing the original mechanical mechanism.
Unfortunately, the Walkway in Veteran’s Park is a cul-de-sac and is not completed as the final section is in dispute between the NJDEP and the NJ Veteran’s Administration. When completed, walkers will be able to walk west past the Korean War Memorial and along the south side of Morris Canal. Eventually, the Walkway will extend to the footbridge at Jersey Avenue allowing the public to walk from downtown Jersey City, around Morris Canal and into Liberty State Park.
After taking photos of the recently reopened Jersey Central Historical Train Station just across the Morris Canal in Liberty State Park and spectacular downtown Manhattan, the group headed back north on the Walkway toward Hoboken.
The first stop was a pier adjacent to Exchange Place that has been converted to a public park with fishing stations, a band shell rotunda and extensive seating for the public to enjoy the views. The walkers were disturbed that garbage was littering the pier. There were very few trash receptacles and they were overflowing with trash.
The walkers continued north past the Hyatt Hotel which is on a pier with the Walkway leading to the riverfront. The end of the pier is the closest point to Manhattan along the waterfront and a favorite location for weddings. Continuing on, the group observed several areas of the Walkway where the pavers are sinking or missing. Many wooden planks were loose on the Walkway by the Mandalay and are waiting for accidents to happen. These are reminders that, unless the Walkway is constantly maintained, Mother Nature will eventually destroy whatever is built on the waterfront.
Continuing north on the Walkway past the Harbourside Financial Center, the group stopped to look at “Jersey City Beach”. This is a small area near an outflow where, at low tide, the water’s edge is “sandy” but littered with drift debris. There are small “beach” areas like this all along the Walkway. After a brief stop in the shade, the Walkers proceeded to Harbourside Marina where large yachts and sailboats are docked. There also is Batello’s restaurant at the end of the pier which several walkers noted had excellent food and views of the marina and river.
Next the group approached the area of the Walkway where it goes over the Holland Tunnel. One of the Board members related the history of the tunnel and the development of the series of ventilating fans and airshafts which continue be functional today. The engineer who designed the ventilating system was named Holland and the tunnel was named for him.
The Walkway was closed at the Holland Tunnel as they are building a new access pier for the ventilating shafts. One of the Walkers said it had been closed for over a year and it looked like it will continue to be closed for an extensive period of time.
The walkers were detoured onto the street and re-entered the Walkway in Newport where new buildings are under construction by the LeFrak organization. While much development remains to be completed, LeFrak has built waterfront park facilities and a sandy “beach” for enjoyment of the public. The “beach” is not actually on the water but gives a good feeling about what a beach might look like if one went to the Jersey shore. The park was crowded with families enjoying the sunny day.
The final section of the Walkway in Jersey City is a bridge that connects Jersey City with Hoboken. This section was built with joint cooperation and funding from the adjacent developer, LeFrak, and NJ DEP. It contains a series of historical placards that provide an excellent history of the area. The bridge also passes over Long Slip, a remnant of the days when shipping dominated the waterfront. The bridge leads the Walkway into the Hoboken Train Station. Recently, NJ Transit received approval to fill in the Long Slip canal and construct a new train station on the Hoboken/Jersey City border.
At 11:30, the Walkers arrived at the Hoboken Light Rail Station having walked 1.9 miles along the commercial center of Jersey City. The walk was measured by a HRWC Board member.
Overall, the Walkway in Jersey City is in good shape and is being maintained by the various commercial organizations that are responsible. It is evident that these organizations appreciate the value and importance of the Walkway to their various commercial endeavors.
After a short wrap-up, the walkers dispersed into Hoboken or returned to Exchange place on the Light Rail.
The next Walk the Walkway is July 24th when the Conservancy will walk in Hoboken.