Moving to Jersey City: Everything You Need to Know
Jersey City—nicknamed America’s Golden Door as an ode to the immigrants who once journeyed through Ellis Island—has long existed in the shadows of New York City. By the 1980s, Jersey City fell into decline when companies such as Colgate shut down operations, leaving a desolate warehouse district in their wake. Scenes of Jersey City’s undeveloped waterfront can be seen in the 1986 movie Sid and Nancy.
The eventual development of Newport, the former site of the city’s abandoned railways, began the transformation of the Jersey City waterfront. Today, Jersey City is in the midst of an unprecedented development boom that’s earning the city a new moniker, “the Sixth Borough.”
If you're planning on settling down in Jersey City, here’s what to know before making the move.
There’s a Phenomenal Public Art Scene
Launched in 2013, the Jersey City Mural Arts program has installed more than 70 murals from local, national, and international artists throughout the city. The “Jersey City Wave” by Shepherd Fairey—symbolizing Jersey City’s economic rebirth—has become the centerpiece of downtown Jersey City, greeting commuters, residents, and visitors as they exit the Grove Street Path Station.
Green Villain, a graffiti curator who works exclusively with local artists, spearheads equally impressive mural projects throughout the city. The Demolition Exhibition gained national attention, and the Mecca Project, completed in 2017, is the largest mural in the state.
Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza Is a Permanent Fixture
In downtown Jersey City, the Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza is a one-block car-free zone, just steps away from the Grove Street Path Station. The plaza became a permanent fixture in 2015. On warm summer nights, neighbors and young families stroll between the plaza’s many restaurants and stores, enjoying outdoor seating, live music and street performers. Mayor Steven Fulop recently announced the potential expansion of the pedestrian plaza, stating the plaza has been “overall positively received by residents.”
Journal Square Will Be An Arts Hub
The Landmark Loew’s Theatre is the crown jewel of Journal Square. The 1920s movie palace was saved from demolition and the community group, Friends of the Loews (FOL), has been painstakingly renovating the architectural wonder since the 1980s. Throughout the year, the FOL host classic movie screenings accompanied by a live organist. After some legal disputes, the FOL and Jersey City are working to complete the historic theatre’s renovation and give Jersey City a high-quality performing arts center. With the future site of the Jersey City Museum and Mana Contemporary also located nearby, Journal Square will become the city’s arts district.
Discover Little India
Little India—home to the highest number of Indians in the Western Hemisphere—is a small stretch of Newark Avenue near Journal Square. South Indian restaurants, sari shops, and Indian groceries line the street. The area hosts the state’s largest Navratri festival—more than 15,000 people attend for 4 to 6 nights—and an annual Holi festival. Foodies in search of dosa will love a visit to Little India.
Jersey City is the Country’s Most Diverse City
For two years in a row, Jersey City has been named the most diverse city in the country, by WalletHub.com. Roughly 52 percent of the city’s residents speak a language other than English at home. As America’s Golden Door, diversity is widely felt throughout the city. Annual parades and cultural festivals frequently take over Exchange Place, creating lively, welcoming and fun celebrations.
Bergen-Lafayette is a Hidden Foodie Mecca
Bergen-Lafayette, a historic neighborhood on the city’s south side, exists in the shadows of Jersey City’s massive developments in downtown and Journal Square. And so, its quietly home to the city’s most exciting new eateries. Harry’s Daughter, Corgi Spirits, Hooked JC, and the Oak on Pine have all opened in the past year, delighting the neighborhood.
Commuting Can Be a Hassle
During rush hour, PATH trains connecting Jersey City to Manhattan are jam-packed. The PATH is often more reliable than the MTA, but signal failures can delay trains for hours, and the Port Authority is struggling to keep up with increased demand. As the city continues to grow, expect continued improvements to the PATH system, including increasing accessibility and the number of trains during peak hours.