InstaBlog: Exchange Place, Jersey City

Author's note: Warning—this is a blog-style post based on a social media post. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

Over the past few decades, Jersey City has exploded, sprouting towers far into the air which, especially from a distance, rival those of lower Manhattan. Once you are on the ground, though, it becomes clear that things are quite a bit uglier.

I began my walk through the city at Exchange Place. The PATH station is very deep due to its proximity to the water; the only way up or down is via elevator. Indeed, the station is quite reminiscent of the London Underground's deep-level tube lines.

Fun urban history fact: most of this Jersey waterfront was originally composed of railroad terminals. Before the construction of tunnels, passengers to or from New York had to change to ferries across the Hudson. This led to the neighborhood's name: streetcars, rails, and ferries all met here as the place to exchange passengers. It also, once tunnels were built and transfers were no longer required, left the land for this explosive growth.

The plaza overlooking lower Manhattan has a gorgeous view, especially at sunset, even if it is relatively bare. The surface is *still* a cornucopia of transportation options, including many bus lines and the very busy Hudson-Bergen Light Rail.

But that is where the good news ends. The explosive growth of Jersey City may have brought density, but at the street level, this might as well be a city in the Sun Belt. Streets are wide, featureless, and encourage high speed driving. The buildings offer little streetscape, just bare, windswept plazas with few details for people to latch on to. Long vistas make even short distances seem immense. There are few other people walking, and who could blame them? The only textural interest comes from the few remaining, older buildings, so tucked in between modern and featureless glass fronts that they are easy to miss.

The architecture of "Wall Street West" may look intriguing from a distance, but up close... well, let's just say this *not* how you build an urban city.

Based on an Instagram post.
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