New Jersey has never really had the best reputation, ammirite? It’s been the unloved and unwanted twin brother of New York City since 1787. When I thought of New Jersey in the past, I thought of that smelly smell as you enter, I thought of Jon Bon Jovi, I thought of stupid haircuts, my three years of high school in Marlboro, NJ, and some really stupid accents.
I must admit, after living in New Jersey for a year now, I’ve noticed something shifting. This little state of ours, our little slice of the stinky armpit of the United States of America is starting to grow up! It’s becoming a real place, where people live and work and play…. Which just happens to be the catchphrase of the city in which I live, Jersey City.
By PATH train, Jersey City is about 10-20 minutes from downtown Manhattan. When I lived in Brooklyn, it would take me up to an hour to get to the same place! Plus, it would cost more. See, although the PATH train costs the same amount per ride as the MetroCard used on the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority), the PATH card costs less for a monthly card. Riddle me that!
Near me, the hot spot is on Newark Avenue. This is right where Newark intersects with Grove Street and the Grove Street PATH station (what are the chances that they’d name both Grove Street?!) This is where you’ll find the farmer’s market, all the bars and restaurants and cafes you could ever want, and more beards than you’ll know how to handle(bar).
What is rather crazy about Jersey City is that it’s not New York- duh. Yet, it acts like it is. And, for the most part, no one is really upset about it. They say Brooklyn and JC are in competition, but I don’t think they are. I think Brooklyn and JC want to be in competition, but the two never shall meet. Because the people in Brooklyn need to live in Brooklyn for the cheaper hoods, the ‘New York’ label and all that is Brooklyn. The Jersey people are looking to work in the city, have nice homes that are a touch cheaper than New York, and raise families in the safe, somewhat quieter streets of New Jersey. It’s different. Fighting is not necessary, everyone gets along. There’s enough room for all the ironic adults and their “adulting”, as the ironic adults like to say.
Jersey City is growing on me. Initially, I was skeptical. The people were too friendly, the streets were too clean, the food passed health inspection too easily… it was weird. A bit “Pleasantville” for me. As time goes on, though, I realize that eating unrecognizable food and getting yelled at in an undecipherable language which could be English doesn’t have to be the only way to live. There are other places, people, and things out there, and not just in a game of ’20 Questions’.
Today for example, I took my laptop and walked about 8 blocks to a vegan-friendly cafe. They gave me carrot cake and tea, let me use their WiFi and restroom, and I sat there doing bidnezz (aka telling everyone I know that I am so mature) for about an hour. The important thing here is, I had cake. I had vegan carrot cake less than a mile from the place where I sleep and live. That makes me very happy.
Admittedly, Jersey City really needs more exclusively vegan spots, but between TeaNJ, Subia’s, Pet Shop, and various other places that offer vegan options, my feeding needs are well met.
Aside from the food, and there is definitely plenty of food and beverage, the events and parks are impressive, too! Behind my building there’s a small park, a skate park, a basketball court, a playground, and a baseball field. There’s also Hamilton Park and Van Vorst Park which are the homes to farmer’s markets, basketball, handball, tennis courts, and tons of events throughout the summer. These events include, but are not limited to: pet parades, live music, festivals, and all sorts of unexpected pop-ups. Not to mention, the whole city is like walking through a big, beautiful dog museum. Everywhere you look, there are dogs of all breeds, sizes, colours, and religions.
Another thing I always say is nice about living outside New York City is that you can then look at New York City! The skyline from the Exchange Place waterfront is an unbeatable view of downtown Manhattan!
What other positive things can I say about Jersey City? Aside from the multitude of restaurants, bars, music, events, and beautiful people, places, and things?
Ah, yes! What I always loved about living in Coney Island, Brooklyn was that a walk into any neighbourhood was like a flight across an ocean. Jersey City does not lack that appealing trait, either! You can get your fill of Spanish food, Italian options, an entire area devoted to Indian products, and anything else of which you can think! If you just want a little variety, it’s not hard at all to experience a touch of urban attitude, or step into a more glamorous upper-class scene. Maybe this is why Jersey City is considered one of the most diverse cities in America!
I guess Jersey City has swayed my opinion on New Jersey. I still won’t say it’s as good as New York City! But… it’s not bad. You should visit sometime and judge for yourself. Don’t forget to text and invite me for a slice of cake!
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