They also have left significant legacies. Grundy helped form the city's Municipal Historic Districts Commission, now known as the Jersey City Historic Preservation Commission. Conrad was involved in preserving the historic Loew's Theater.
The late residents became fixed in neighbors' minds in the 1960s and 1970s for their tireless activism to preserve and save architectural landmarks from destruction.
Now, the late Mr. Grundy has a pier at Exchange Place named after him, J. Owen Grundy Pier. Residents can sit on the benches and look across the Hudson River at the Manhattan skyline.
Theodore Conrad has a street named after him, Theodore Conrad Drive, near Liberty State Park.J. Owen Grundy
Grundy was known for being many things in his lifetime - a curmudgeon, eccentric, and forgetful. But Grundy, who became the city's historian in the 1970s under late former Mayor Thomas F.X. Smith, could not be accused of apathy for his city.
He was born in 1911 and died in the city in 1985. An only child, Grundy cultivated a love of city and state history at an early age, according to local resident Charles Balcer, who knew of Grundy since the early 1960s. At that time, Grundy was involved in the historic preservation movement in New York City. Balcer formed a relationship with Grundy in his later years.
"He was a studious man, a real student of history, incredibly well-versed in not only the history of Jersey City and New Jersey, but also his own history," said Balcer.
Balcer said when Grundy was a youth, he began researching his family's history going back to the Revolutionary War, when they lived in Monmouth County. Grundy also traced his lineage back to Abraham Lincoln.
That effort fed his love of landmarks, especially in the 1920s when he observed Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague leading the demolition of historic homes in Journal Square.
When Grundy was a young man, he worked as a reporter and an associate editor of The Villager in Greenwich Village in New York, where he chronicled the history of New York City.
Grundy hit his stride when he became involved in Jersey City's historic preservation in the late 1960s through the early 1980s.
Working with Balcer and other preservationists, Grundy helped create the city's Brownstone Revival Committee in the 1970s to educate residents and visitors of the beauty and history of the brownstones on Montgomery Street and other parts of Downtown Jersey City.
That led him to help form the city's Municipal Historic Districts Commission, now known as the Jersey City Historic Preservation Commission, which acted as a guide and watchdog to ensure that homeowners and developers adhered to historic guidelines.
Grundy also created his own place in history by the way he conducted his life. Balcer recalled Grundy as an "old newspaperman" who worked so late into the evening in his office within the New Jersey Room of the Jersey City Public Library, he would lose track of closing time and call Balcer to get him out.
Balcer was also called "a whirlwind," which he marvels at now.
"I am 63 now. When Grundy was my age, he had far more energy than I do," said Balcer. "But he was an eccentric with a great sense of humor and great patience." Theodore Conrad
Recently, Conrad's daughter Doris Brown showed The Reporter several binders filled with drawings that Conrad made and articles about his life.
"He could never throw anything away," said Brown. "I even have a drawing he did when he was in kindergarten." Conrad was born on May 19, 1910 to German immigrants in a house on 31 Griffith St. in the city's Heights section.
According to Brown, her father was intrigued at an early age by seeing his grandfather construct homes and buildings in his neighborhood.
Conrad studied draftsmanship at Dickinson High School in Jersey City, and then attended Pratt Institute in New York City.
He landed a job with the prestigious architectural firm of Harvey Walley Corbett in 1932 during the Great Depression. There, he designed the models for the Metropolitan Life Insurance building and Rockefeller Center, and became a respected figure in the architectural milieu, working alongside such giants as his good friend Phillip Johnson. Doris Brown said her father never lost his love for his hometown.
"He couldn't imagine living anywhere else. This was the best place in the world," said Brown. "He could see Manhattan from here and all the buildings he helped create."
Conrad went one step further in his love for his Jersey City by assuming an activist role after he turned 50.
It started after he heard of plans to take down the old Hudson County Courthouse on Newark Avenue to build a parking lot. Built in 1910, Conrad called the courthouse in an article he wrote, an "architectural gem."
Conrad fought for about 20 years to save the courthouse until it was restored to its original glory and reopened for business. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, preventing it from demolition.
Conrad participated in other good fights as part of the Citizens Committee of Hudson County. He and fellow activists Morris Pesin, J. Owen Grundy, Audrey Zapp, and Dr. Ethel Lawner helped prompt the development Liberty State Park, and they saved Kennedy Boulevard from being turned into a six-lane highway.
One of Conrad's later crusades was saving the historic Loew's Theatre in Journal Square from being demolished in the late 1980s. Colin Egan, one of the founders of the Friends of the Loew's group that formed in 1987 to save the theater, said Conrad's presence was integral to the building becoming a functioning movie theater, which is still being renovated.
Egan said Conrad's influence changed his life.
"Ted told me double check, to rethink everything," said Egan. "He would tell me never to believe things immediately, to always think in the long-term. And that's what made him a visionary, a stalwart in his community, and we all owe him a tremendous debt."
Conrad passed away on Aug. 19, 1994 at the age of 84. Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org