Save a Historic Railway for Our City’s Public Use! Do Not Tear Down for Private Gain!
We need your help!
Currently a federal agency is determining the future of a 150-year-old rail corridor, the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Harsimus Branch, and its historic massive stone Embankment on 6th Street, Jersey City.
Please help us keep the stunning Embankment and the longer corridor for multiple 21st-century public uses. We need them for the East Coast Greenway, a Maine-to-Florida trail. We need them for open space for a burgeoning population. We need them for rail in New Jersey’s soon-to-be largest city.
The unthinkable alternative is demolition and replacement with luxury housing, character-destroying intrusions into our beloved historic Downtown. This prospect is possible only because the property was prematurely sold for development before required federal permission was requested and obtained.
Help us right this wrong and preserve these historic assets. The City of Jersey City is poised to preserve them, if only the Surface Transportation Board (STB) carries out its preservation obligations! Please join us in our comment, which we will deliver to the STB.
- STB Federal Preservation Officer
- Embankment Preservation Coaltion
The entire historic Harsimus Branch, including its massive stone Embankment on 6th Street, is a material reminder of the many railroads, in this instance the Pennsylvania, that contributed to the development of Jersey City and the Port of New York and New Jersey. These rail lines largely demarcated the historic neighborhoods of Downtown Jersey City.
The Harsimus Branch itself is integral to, or associated with, the National Historic Districts of Harsimus Cove, Hamilton Park, Paulus Hook, and Van Vorst Park; the historic Italian Village; the historic Warehouse District; and the Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery – indeed, the entire Downtown historic fabric. Further, its rail history is part of a larger history of industrialization and immigration; the formation of ethnic communities; the rise of labor unions; the founding of ethnicity-based churches and schools; and the development of the public schools, particularly the National Register-listed Dickinson High School overlooking the Branch, and their role in assimilating waves of immigrants into American society.
Historically sensitive adaptive reuse of the Harsimus Branch will serve multiple 21st-century public uses in a growing city, including rail, trail, and open space. If it secures the right of way, The City of Jersey City is bound by federal law to follow historic preservation guidelines in the reuse of these resources; it has pledged to do so.
In contrast to the City’s plans, limited liability companies, which hold deeds prematurely conveyed before the required rail abandonment authority was obtained, propose disassembly of the Branch and demolition and replacement of the Embankment with luxury residential units.
The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) states it is federal policy to “administer federally . . . controlled . . . historic property in a spirit of stewardship for the inspiration and benefit of present and future generations.”* NHPA requires that “The head of any . . . Federal department or independent agency having authority to license any undertaking shall . . . prior to the issuance of any license, take into account the effect of the undertaking on any district, site, building, structure, or object that is included in or eligible for the inclusion in the National Register.” NHPA also states: “Each Federal agency shall ensure that the agency will not grant a . . . permit . . . or other assistance to an applicant who, with intent to avoid the requirements of section 106 of this Act, has intentionally significantly adversely affected a historic property . . . .”
Federal law requires that adverse effects be avoided when reasonable alternatives exist. The STB must not permit the erasure of nationally historically significant resources, creating adverse effects rippling throughout our historic Downtown. If these assets are under its control, the City of Jersey City has pledged to avoid such effects. We ask the Surface Transportation Board to do no less.
Today: Embankment is counting on you
Embankment Preservation Coalition needs your help with “Save a Historic Railway for Our City’s Public Use! Do Not Tear Down for Private Gain!”. Join Embankment and 2,568 supporters today.