Tuesday, May 28, 2013

York Street / Henderson Street (Marin Blvd)


This street has changed quite a bit... actually this whole area of downtown Jersey City has been dramatically altered.

The area between
  • Henderson St (now called Marin Blvd) to the west and 
  • Greene St to the east, and 
  • Railroad Ave (now called Columbus Ave) to the north and 
  • York St to the south 
was razed in the 1950s to give way to high rise buildings. One project took a particularly heavy toll - the Metropolitan Towers.
From the late 1800s to the 1950s, this section of Jersey City was dominated by three to five story commercial brick buildings - the kind that are still standing on Newark Ave, between Grove and Jersey Ave. Many of the buildings were very ornate, as I will show in future posts.

But during the 40s and 50s downtown Jersey City had declined. It was because Jersey City was a railway hub, and the importance of railway had been giving way to cars and trucks. The housing stock reflected this downward slide with many boarded up and vacant buildings.

But what happened when planning for the high rise project that eventually became Metropolitan Towers seems excessive even against this backdrop - several blocks of downtown Jersey City was razed and two large sections of two streets were eliminated from the map.

Today Newark Avenue ends at Marin Boulevard, but it used to continue to meet Montgomery Street. There was also a street parallel to Newark Ave called Gregory Street. All of the buildings on all of the blocks facing these streets were demolished and the streets themselves literally vanished from the maps (and the real world).

The map below shows the streets and blocks before the demolition frenzy in the 1950s.

Going back to the photos : the photo is taken on York St looking west towards Marin Blvd (aka Henderson St.). The building on the right in the old picture was one of the buildings that was erased to make way for Metropolitan Towers  - it was the American Railway Express Co. stables.

Beyond the intersection with Henderson is the building that put me on the right track to locate where the old photo was taken - the corner building that currently houses a bodega. It was the bricked up windows on the second and third floor that provided the crucial clues - there are not many of those bricked up windows in downtown Jersey City.

I believe there are some aerial shots of the section of downtown available online from during the demolition work that made way for Metropolitan Towers - if you know where to find such photos, or have anything else to share, please post a link in the comments.

View Larger Map

Photo Credits
The map is from Rutgers, and the photos are from my collection.


  1. The loss of a vibrant neighborhood for poorly build, unimaginative high rise buildings is just so tragic.

    Especially as they have created a wall, as has Newport, that cuts off the main downtown residents from any community interaction with the residents of these buildings.

  2. So, just heard JC is bringing old Newark Ave's original traverse to York St back - it's called Metropolis Towers - those parking lots are being replaced by new towers and the original path of Newark will be outlined with retail in the streets below... will take around 10 years to complete.