In this post I will mention one of my favorite parks in the metropolitan area of northern New Jersey. This park not only counts with some of the best views of Manhattan’s skyline, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, but also had a vital role during the 19th and 20th centuries, when it was a major waterfront industrial area and an important transportation network in the New York Harbor area.
At the north end of the green oasis one can find the historic Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal (CRRNJ), also known as Jersey Central or Jersey Central Lines (CNJ), as well as the ”Empty Sky” 9/11 Memorial. The CRRNJ Terminal all together with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, represents one of the most dramatic stories: the arrival of the immigrants to the United States and the connection to other parts of the country through the Terminal, being considered ”the gateway to the realization of their hopes and dreams of a new life in America”. Most of the newcomers were welcomed by the Statue of Liberty, processed on Ellis Island and introduced to their new lives via CRRNJ Terminal. During it’s peak, the Terminal served to about 30,000 to 50,000 commuters every single day. After falling into bankruptcy, the building and the adjacent park became part of the State and National Register of Historic Places. Nowadays, the Terminal has become the core of statewide special events, offering visitors the opportunity to get introduced to it’s history and the renaissance of a new architectural landmark.
Right next to the Terminal one can find the ”Empty Sky” 9/11 Memorial that commemorates the 746 victims from New Jersey who lost their lives. The design of Frederic Schwartz Architects was chosen by unanimous vote of the ”Families and Survivors Committee” and dedicated a day before the tenth anniversary of the attacks. The name of the memorial ”Empty Sky” is linked to Bruce Springsteen’s song, Empty Sky, that makes reference to the empty sky where the twin towers once stood.
‘‘I woke up this morning
I could barely breathe
Just an empty impression
In the bed where you used to be
I want a kiss from your lips
I want an eye for an eye
I woke up this morning to the empty sky
Empty sky, empty sky”.
The purpose of the memorial is to ”reflect the legacies of those whose lives were lost, that their unfulfilled dreams and hopes may result in a better future for society; their unique qualities and characteristics enriched our lives and through this memorial, their stories live on”. The intent of the memorial is to make the visitors feel as if the were between the missing buildings, while the walls are directed towards Ground Zero, where the Twin Towers were located. The twin walls have a height of 30ft and a length of 208ft and 10 inches, representing the exact width of the Twin Towers, whereas the proportion of the walls is a symbolic representation of the buildings as if they were lying on their sides. The walls made of concrete and steel with a reflective surface create a constantly changing play of light between the walls. At night they are illuminated from the ground, creating so a path of light in between the twin walls that allows the visitors to see the names of the lost ones inscribed on them. In front of them there are two structural pieces taken from the towers. Other structural relics of the twin towers can be found around New Jersey, commemorating the lost ones from those areas. As for example, there is another 9/11 memorial in the Weehawken area, made of two pieces from the base of the facade of the twin towers.
The park has a two-mile picturesque promenade that connects to the picnic area, the Interpretative Center and the CRRNJ Terminal. This space is always filled with people walking, bikers and joggers while providing the gorgeous views along the Hudson River. On the Southern side of the park there is an area with Picnic Pavilions for those who want to grill, as well as Kayak Tours during summer for the most adventurous visitors. Moreover, Liberty State Park provides SummerFest events which can be found on Jersey City Office of Cultural Affairs, providing a series of free outdoor concerts during the summer. Nonetheless, with a 1,212 acres of a green oasis, one can simply find a spot for a common pastime while watching the numerous diversity of birds. As a result of how much I enjoy hanging out in this park, I decided to support the park by getting a personalized licence plate for my car, stating the Liberty State Park on it, instead of the regular one. By doing so, I feel as being part of preserving the beauty of this park. Next I will share a few photos of the picturesque sky at Liberty State Park during different times of the year, as well as the most representative elements of the park mentioned above. I strongly encourage everyone living on the other side of the river to pass by and explore some of the free wonders of New Jersey, which can be found right around the corner.