InstaBlog: Newark Avenue

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!

A walk down Newark Avenue, the heart of urban Jersey City's historic downtown.

While it begins with a pedestrianized block leaving Grove Street, Newark Avenue itself continues as a normal, major urban corridor. It meanders slowly to the northeast, forming a great counterpoint to the surrounding grid. It is a wonderful street, with a mix of shops, parks, apartment buildings—a place that is still full of people on a cold winter's day.

This part of Newark Avenue epitomizes the human scale. Buildings are scaled gracefully to the street, while towers in the distance form beautiful terminated vistas. Sidewalks are wide enough, and while there is far too much traffic, the street is only two lanes wide (not including parking). As the street meanders, it bends and creates many non-standard intersections, both of which keep visual interest very high. Buildings form a street wall that is far from monotonous. Varied structures, changing frontages, and a new vista every hundred feet or so make walking feel effortless. New interventions, like neckdowns—where roadways are narrowed at crossings to slow cars and shorten crossing distances—are very much appreciated, and will hopefully eventually be made permanent and turned into even more active space.

It is interesting that this stretch seems to be thriving, while the pedestrianized block seems to be struggling—the pros and cons of total pedestrianization remain hotly debatable.

With all of that, however, Jersey City is still a town cut into pieces by expressways, and you feel it as you approach what clearly feels like the end of the street, at NJ Turnpike approach to the Holland Tunnel. While the street actually continues to the Journal Square neighborhood, the streetscape peters out, making the street and neighborhood *feel* like it ends—a sad tale repeated almost everywhere that there are urban expressways.

Still, it's a deeply pleasant place, with plenty of public spaces, seating, vistas, shops, people, etc… It's a good example of what an urban environment can be.

See more Blog or Social Media posts. Based on an Instagram post.