InstaBlog: Grove Street

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!

Continuing north in Jersey City, I found myself at the surface of PATH's Grove Street station. Here, the intersection of Newark Avenue & Christopher Columbus Drive makes a small, triangular space, which has been converted to a public square. A farmers market—the Downtown Jersey City Farmers Market—was just closing up shop, and people were everywhere, especially for a cold winter's day.

It is a surprisingly pleasant place. A tall apartment building, which in another location might overpower the street, acts as a counterpoint (probably because it stands alone), making the entire square feel warm and welcoming, like a living room. Little touches like closed streets, planters, and the like made the public space feel like a *place*, a truly multifunctional social and commercial center for the city.

Turning, you find that the first block of Newark Avenue—the major shopping street in the area—has been completely pedestrianized. It’s closed off at both ends, and the street has benches, tables, planters, and decorations. There can be no doubt that this makes it a nice place, but it also demonstrates how pedestrianization is not always a panacea. While there are definitely some thriving stores, many are clearly suffering, or already out of business. At least in part, this is attributable to the changing demographics of the neighborhood. Closed or suffering stores seem to be either chains (the troubled Guitar Center or more discount-oriented ones like Fabco Shoes) or tchotchke & gift shops. The area may be stuck in a transition, where rents are rising faster than existing businesses can keep up or new ones can move in. What is surprising, however, is that the surrounding streets are thriving with newer, busy businesses, and it is hard to tell exactly why from the street.

No matter what, however, Jersey City continued to surprise. Beautiful spaces, a lot of beautiful architecture, and a lot of high-quality urban function. While clearly going through some pains, it is a busy, nice place to be, and a far cry from the windswept highways of the city's new downtown.

Based on an Instagram post.
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