And last month, the city was chosen as one of the most popular destinations to visit for Labor Day Weekend, according to Priceline.com.
Are these mentions simply proof of Jersey City's emergence as a "world-class city," as Mayor Jerramiah Healy likes to say, or are they just frivolous titles to be touted by civic boosters while glossing over other urban realities?Straight statistics
In the past, Jersey City has been known as one of the top auto theft areas in the United States, and as the second largest city in the state in terms of population, behind Newark.
It also has the four tallest buildings in the state, including the tallest, the Goldman Sachs Building on Hudson Street.
The city has a bustling waterfront, a distinct arts scene, and lots of new developments. Jersey City is also known as official address of Liberty State Park and the Liberty Science Center.
But is it really the best city for dating? Even better than Toronto
Before this past Labor Day, the popular travel website priceline.com had listed Jersey City as number 23 in its annual survey of the 50 most-popular destinations for the upcoming weekend.
According to a press release, Jersey City moved up 20 spots from its ranking last year on a survey of users, pushing it ahead of such cities as Washington D.C. and Toronto.
The Priceline.com list was based on a sampling of more than 30,000 hotel room booking requests made by priceline.com customers for the Sept. 1-3, 2007 period, the website said. Of course, those guests may have been staying there in order to take the ferry or train to New York City and avoid New York hotel prices. Third "happiest"
In April, Men's Health magazine ranked Jersey City as having the second safest drivers based on the rate of fatal accidents, deaths caused by speeding, city statistics on accident frequency, and statewide numbers on speeding and seatbelt use.
In 2005, Jersey City made the list on three varied surveys.
Sperling's Best Places (www.bestplaces.net), a survey company based in Portland, Oregon, named Jersey City the third happiest city in the nation. The survey scored more than 100 metropolitan areas across the country and organized them by rank, using factors such as antidepressant sales, suicide rates, and the number of days per year residents reported being depressed. Jersey City was one of only four cities surveyed that received an A+ grade.
Another Sperling survey, "America's Best and Worst Cities for Dating" ranked Jersey City 11th on a list of the 80 best American cities for singles, using 24 categories to compile the list.
Also in 2005, Jersey City was named one of the 10 best cities for walking by the American Podiatric Medical Association in a survey of 100 U.S. cities, using such criteria as the percentage of the adult population that walks for exercise, and number of walking or hiking trails per square mile.
It is true that Jersey City's waterfront is part of an ongoing state project to complete a riverfront walkway from Bayonne all the way north to the George Washington Bridge. Being polled on the polls
Elizabeth Romanaux is the Vice President of Communications for the Liberty Science Center and serves on the board of "Destination: Jersey City," a private, nonprofit organization serving to promote the tourism appeal of Jersey City.
Romanaux said in an interview last week that "it's kind of cool" to see Jersey City mentioned in so many polls.
"I don't feel skeptical at all about these polls, since you get the best view of Manhattan from Jersey City," Romanaux said. "And I tell people who come to visit Liberty State Park to come to Jersey City."
Romanaux added, "When someone gives you a compliment, you walk with your head higher, and I think that is what is happening. When polls reflect a different view of someone to them, then they begin to have a different view of themselves." 'They don't do them in the 'hood'
City officials viewed Jersey City's mention in polls positively, but with reservations.
Mayor Jerramiah Healy said, "We are happy about it and we agree with these assessments of our city. We think our city has much to offer potential residents, businesses and investors."
City Councilwoman Viola Richardson said she wasn't sure if the survey was being done in places like her Ward F, which has some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city.
"When they do these studies, they don't do them in the 'hood, but in the nicer parts of the city," Richardson said.
But she added, "I think it is nice to be considered [to come] from someplace with high regard, rather than hearing, 'Oh, she's from Jersey City.' "
City Council President Mariano Vega said he was not surprised that Jersey City was mentioned in various polls.
"The rest of the nation and these survey organizations are beginning to see there is a city across the river from New York with its own beat and tempo," Vega said. Residents not so sure
Jersey City residents had various opinions on the significance of the polls.
Paul Cohen, a Journal Square resident and Hudson Reporter employee, took a highly skeptical stance.
"I think it is a lot of publicity that the politicians use to show the good points of Jersey City, and not total reality," Cohen said. "We still have one of the worst school systems in the state, and the corruption here is bad."
Mahdi Hemingway, a Jersey City native works in Manhattan as a portfolio manager for a private equity firm, agreed with Councilwoman Richardson. He said that the polls probably reflect improvements in places such as Downtown and the Heights sections of the city.
"I have seen Jersey City has changed," he said, "but change should happen all over the city. Some of the polls are a reflection of the gentrification, causing an influx of new people moving in, but also causing lifelong residents to move out."
Crystal Jones runs the Urban Angels Daycare Center in the Bergen-Lafayette section of the city, and is the mother of two children. Jones felt more upbeat about the polls.
She said, "I really feel great when Jersey City, what was once not a very desirable town, is mentioned in a positive light." For comments on this story, contact Ricardo Kaulessar at firstname.lastname@example.org.