Best Neighborhoods in Jersey City
A few miles from New York City, nestled on a peninsula between the Hudson and Hackensack Rivers, Jersey City is the second-most populous city in New Jersey.
One of the major ports of entry into the U.S., Jersey City, is the home of a large banking and finance district known as “Wall Street West”. It is also a major distribution hub for imports and exports, providing transportation infrastructure to keep the goods moving.
New Yorkers like to consider Jersey City as the “Sixth Borough” of NYC; Jersey residents do not. In fact, both Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are considered part of Jersey City, not NYC.
Liberty State Park is home to the Empty Sky Memorial in honor of the New Jersey residents who lost their lives in 9-11. It stands right across the Hudson from where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood.
Ellis Island is connected to Liberty State Park by a bridge, but it is restricted to official vehicles only. It's also the location of the ferry that will take you to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
In 1804, Alexander Hamilton (yeah, THAT Hamilton) was at loose ends after Thomas Jefferson’s election to power. He set out to make New Jersey a manufacturing force and founded Associates of the Jersey Company, which laid the groundwork for modern Jersey City.
During the Civil War, Jersey City was a major stop on the Underground Railroad. It continues to be a culturally diverse area.
Jersey City has a unique vibe, but is it a good place to live? We considered factors such as demographics, crime rate and proximity to NYC to showcase some of the great neighborhoods in Jersey City. Here are our findings in alphabetical order.
Hackensack River Waterfront
It could have been just another sad story about urban pollution. In 1970, an area of the Hackensack River Waterfront was a landfill, and also the site of illegal chemical dumping. The chemical waste was so bad that there would be periodic spontaneous sub-surface fires until the landfill was capped in 1985.
Fast-forward to 2020. Not only has the area been remediated, including a 30-acre parkland that includes 502 trees in honor of New Jersey citizens who lost their lives to COVID-19, but a new development of 100 acres of former brownland will also include 35% affordable housing in one of the prettiest areas of Jersey City.
According to an article at NJ.com, “The development will mark a key step in the transformation of the Bayfront site, one that mirrors Jersey City’s metamorphosis from industrial hub to up-and-coming urban center.”
The development will also extend the Hackensack River Walkway and add warehouses and commercial buildings. Talk about resilience!
The Hackensack River Waterfront community is located on the west side of Jersey City, along the shore of the Hackensack River. (Swimming in the river is discouraged and while there are great fishing spots, catch and release is your best option. Don’t eat the fishies.)
It earns an overall A- from Niche.com, including A+ for diversity, A for outdoor activities and health and fitness and A- for nightlife and good for families. AreaVibes.com notes the crime rate is 4% less than the national average.
Most people rent in the Hackensack River Waterfront neighborhood, with rent averaging just over $1,700. The median house price is $345,162 and the median income is $70,900. Thirty-six percent of the people have children.
As far as commuting goes, if you work in NYC, expect to spend 35 minutes on the tram, 45 minutes on the bus, or approximately 20 minutes driving. A taxi will cost you about $100 and a couple of years off your life.
The Journal Square area of Jersey City is one of the oldest, and is named for the Jersey Journal newspaper that had its offices in the area from 1867 until it moved uptown in 2013.
The Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theater dates back to 1929, when the Loew’s Corporation owned MGM Studios. Stars like Judy Garland, Bing Crosby and George Burns graced the stage back in the day, and it has served as a movie set for a myriad of films, including “The Joker.”
It faces the train station, once the hub of transport in and out of Jersey and NYC. Kitty corner to the Jersey Theater, the Stanley Theater opened in 1928. The movie theater was second in size to Radio City, hosting acts including Dolly Parton, Three Stooges, Jimmy Durante, Tony Bennett and Janis Joplin before falling into disrepair in the 1970s.
It was eventually purchased by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and is now a sacred worship space for the Jehovah Witnesses.
Niche lists Journal Square as the No. 3 best neighborhood to live in Jersey City, and gives it an overall A, including A+ for nightlife and diversity, A for good for families, outdoor activities and health and fitness, and B+ for commute.
With a median house value of just over $411,000, 82% of the residents in Journal Square own their dwellings, although the vast majority live in the towering residential complexes. Rent sits around $1,200, a couple of hundred dollars above the national average, but much less than across the bridge in Manhattan.
And speaking of commuting, it’s a 20-minute bus ride or train ride from Journal Square to Manhattan, or a 15-minute car ride.
Niche lists the Waterfront as the No. 1 neighborhood to live in Jersey City, giving it an overall A+ rating, with A+ for outdoor activities, health and fitness and nightlife, an A in good for families, and an A- for commute and diversity.
It’s located right on the Hudson River, looking across to NYC’s Tribeca and Battery Park. AreaVibes gives the area an A rating, reporting that crime stats are 61% lower than the national average.
The median home value is $736,911, and 82% of residents own their homes. The median income is $154,400, and residents are a well-educated bunch, with 46% holding a master’s degree or higher.
The Colgate Clock is located in the Colgate Center on the Waterfront. Built in 1924 for the Colgate Company’s centennial. It’s a mandatory reporting point for flights below Class B airspace.
It’s a 15-minute drive from the Waterfront to NYC, depending on the traffic in the Holland Tunnel. A train/subway combo will take you just under 40 minutes, and the bus will take you just under an hour. You can also catch the Liberty Harbor to Downtown Pier 11 commuter ferry, which takes about 12 minutes.
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