InstaBlog: Harismus

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!

Walking through Harismus, a residential neighborhood in Jersey City's historic downtown, very near the main shopping streets.

One of the first things you notice walking down the tree-lined streets is the tremendous variety of architecture. By American standards, Harismus is an old neighborhood, with major developing having started in the 1840s and 1850s—and in essence, it hasn't stopped changing since then. Old, wooden row houses sit next to brick apartments; mid-century low rise houses sit next to brand new, modern architecture. The mix is enthralling; this is neither a neighborhood preserved in amber, nor one built all at once, but built over time, while maintaining a clear lineage from old to new. It is history lesson in various types of local vernacular architectures. And while the 20th Century building typologies tend to be a little garage-heavy for such an urban place, the streets are still tremendously walkable (and bikeable, albeit without protected lanes).

One thing that is nice is the presence of intermittent corner stores. In more modern neighborhoods, zoning often prohibits what are wonderful community additions—amenities that not only make for shorter shopping trips for residents, but also making the streets more active and community-oriented.

Last but by no means least, at the north border of Harismus lies the Harismus Stem Embankment, aka the Sixth Street Embankment. Originally built by the Pennsylvania Railroad to bring freight to cross-river carfloats at waterfront yards (the space now taken up by Jersey City's modern towers), it has sat abandoned for years. Not only is it an unobtrusive link to Jersey City's industrial past, it seems a ready-made spot for a park exactly like the High Line. In fact, local residents have been pushing for just such a transformation, only to learn that Conrail (the current owner) could not sell the property, because their predecessors had not followed the correct abandonment procedures! This is extra humorous considering that bridges over local streets have not only been removed, but the waterfront has long since been built over, making resuming service impossible.

Hopefully these issues are worked out soon—a linear park here would be a tremendous addition to a gorgeous neighborhood.

Based on an Instagram post.
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