Sunday, May 23, 2010

Everything Jersey City Festival

The third annual Everything Jersey City Festival took place on Central Avenue. The festival has everything from arts and crafts, to rock climbing, to a petting zoo, to musical acts and dance shows. But mostly ... it has a lot of greasy food!

Despite the abundance of good food, my favorite part of the festival was actually the soccer matches for kids, below.

The Heights is diverse in culture and is home to a lot of Spanish-speaking people, hence the natural interest in soccer. I thought the soccer matches were especially neat considering the 2010 World Cup in about three weeks.

The rock climbing, above, is a must for any festival and the girls, below, did a great job with their dance routine.

Out of the many bands performing at the festival, my favorite was definitely Paddy and the Pale Boys, a North Jersey-based Irish band. Steve Miller, on the fiddle, below, was especially convincing.

Be sure to come to the fourth annual Everything Jersey City Festival next year!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Holland Street

Holland Street is the only remaining cobblestone street in The Heights, and one of only five in Jersey City. It is located right next to Riverview-Fisk Park. The old stone staircase, at left, which used to make Holland Street accessible to pedestrians, is not in use anymore.

Ogden Avenue crosses over the stone-paved Holland Street by way of this old granite bridge, built in 1905, above.

Nowadays, Holland Street is only accessible from Palisades Avenue, visible in the far background, above. Below, a hundred and five years later, the bridge is still going strong.

As is evident from the picture below, the street is closed to traffic and is usually empty of pedestrians.

As far as I can tell, Holland Street was probably an important carriage lane in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

I can’t imagine how labor intensive it must have been to construct a cobblestone street!

A hundred years ago, Holland Street connected directly to Paterson Plank Road, which in turn connected to the city of Hoboken and ultimately the Hudson River ferries.

Now it just ends abruptly with concrete barriers and a Smirnoff Vodka billboard, above.

Another way to get down to Paterson Plank Road used to be by taking this long stone staircase, above. Today, however, the old staircase is barely visible, below.

Unfortunately, after years of neglect, the stone staircase is in terrible shape.

It is also littered with trash and debris, and even a discarded pair of men’s underwear. I don’t see it being fixed anytime soon.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ogden Avenue

My favorite street in The Heights is probably Ogden Avenue, which is a charming mix of historic buildings, pictured above and below, new development, and the downright quirky.

The rowhouses, above, constitute one of my favorite blocks on Ogden Avenue. This evening, when making my rounds, I also discovered a little plaque tied to a tree, below.

The dedication, written in French, is for a one-month old baby girl who passed away in 2005.

Ogden Avenue is located on the edge of The Palisades cliff, literally one block away from already gentrified Hoboken. The views of New York City from Ogden are phenomenal. Since it is so close to Hoboken, it is the first street in The Heights that is being gentrified in a hurry. New construction, above and below, is a familiar sight.

The Heights does retain some of its quirkyness. The house below certainly looks like it belongs in the Hollywood Hills instead of Jersey City Heights.

And what about the Pink House below? I can't find any other explanation for the owners of this house painting it pink except that they were totally off their rockers.

There is a lot of history on Ogden Avenue, as witnessed by Pohlmann's Hall, pictured below. This 1874 building was originally a German athletics and social club. It has now been converted into condos. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

The English writer Pamela Windo, author of “Zohra's Ladder,” lives in this building. She says in the Spring 2010 edition of Jersey City Magazine that Pohlmann's Hall “was exactly what [she] was looking for” when she moved to The Heights more than 10 years ago.

The Ogden-Conrad House, above and below, is located on 248 Ogden Avenue. The house was built in 1760. That's a Model T Ford in front of the house, circa 1920s.

The house is named after former New Jersey Governor Aaron Ogden, who was elected governor in 1812. It was also the home of Theodore Conrad, who was well-known for his 1960s and 1970s activism to save architectural landmarks in Jersey City. He died in 1994.

Despite all the neat buildings on Ogden Avenue, my favorite block of rowhouses is probably the ones pictured above. I don't know their place in Heights history, but there is something about them that I found intriguing. Since I am a sucker for American colonial history, perhaps it is their resemblance of 1776 Philadelphia that I find irresistable?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Riverview-Fisk Park

Riverview-Fisk Park on Ogden Avenue, on top of the Hudson Palisades, offers the best scenic views of the New York City skyline.

What is now a children’s playground at Riverview-Fisk Park, above, didn’t look like a fun place to be in the mid-1970s, below.

A monument honoring the soldiers of The Great War, on the northwest corner, is seen in the background in both photos, and below.

The plaque reads, in part, “In grateful recognition of the service rendered by the boys of this section in the World War.”

A concrete bust of Henry Hudson, the famous English sea explorer who died circa 1611, sits in the center of the park. He explored the region around New York City for the Dutch East India Co. and laid the foundation for the Dutch colonization of the area.

I also made a pleasant discovery on the southeast corner of the park—a community garden. Originally an abandoned lot, it was officially approved by the New Jersey Department of Housing as a community garden in 1995.

Riverview-Fisk Park also has a gazebo for viewing the Manhattan skyline, above, and basketball courts, below, which are mostly frequented by the neighborhood kids. In either case, I don't think you can beat the view.

I also found an old postcard, below, depicting the park, where the gazebo is clearly visible. I have no idea how old this postcard is, but judging from how the boys are dressed in the picture, I would guess 1910s or 1920s.

Incidentally, the cannon that is visible in the postcard and pictured below is not there anymore. The photograph is probably from the 1920s. Who doesn't like climbing a cannon?