by Kevin Walsh

While staggering around central Jersey City in the ungodly 85-degree heat one recent summer, I stumbled upon a high brick wall paralleling 6th Street that runs for exactly six blocks between Brunswick Street on the west and Marin Boulevard on the east (pictured is its intersection with Monmouth). Trees and overgrowth have taken over the top of the wall, while whatever bridges there were over intersecting streets have long since been removed.

As you may have guessed this was once a freight railroad associated with the Pennsylvania that ran through the heart of the city; the line here was known as the Harsimus Embankment as it was in the Harsimus Cove section of town (the name comes from a Lenape Native American word for “crow”).  The line was in operation until the mid-1990s; in 1998 the city planned to tear it down, but the Embankment Preservation Coalition has been working toward making the embankment a linear park.

The parallels to Manhattan’s High Line Park and Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail can readily be drawn. However there will have to be some cooperation and money spent on the part of the municipality and thus far, any park development of the embankment is still more of an intention than a reality.

If the embankment is ever developed as a park, moreover, locals will have to be on guard against the overdevelopment surrounding NYC’s High Line that has pushed out many of the longtime businesses adjacent to it in favor of high rise glass boxes.

Before anything like that happens, you can walk 6th Street in Jersey City and imagine what it would be like if the natural fauna that has arisen on the abandoned rail line would be kept in place and public walkways added.


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