Back in the day, mention Liberty Harbor and almost everyone would say, oh yeah, the marina. Where Surf City now stands there used to be a fish store and restaurant reportedly owned by Rev. Sun Myung Moon. I believe it. One night, he arrived in a limousine in blazing lights, and his love for fishing is well-documented.
Across from the marina was an abandoned factory that made something dodgy like asbestos tiles; the artist who lived in the houseboat next to mine scavenged there for found objects.
There was a fiberglass boat manufacturer and bait shop where you could buy live bunker should you wish to venture out into the Hudson. The marina is still there, and there is still an RV park behind the dock master’s office. (See story in the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of Jersey City Magazine.)
But that is about all that’s left of the old Liberty Harbor. If you see tourists at the Marin Boulevard light rail stop, trying to figure out how to validate their tickets, it’s because they’ve discovered the RV park and are headed into the city for some sightseeing.
Now there’s a ferry slip next to the restaurant and a huge parking lot to accommodate the commuters who make the daily voyage to the World Financial Center.
Where the bait and boat shops used to be is now Western Pest Control Services. On the site of the old factory is a luxury rental building called 18 Park. At press time in the spring, it was taking its first occupants. The 11-story, 422-unit building offers studios, one- and two-bedrooms and some townhouses. Developed by Ironstate Development Company and KRE Group, it follows Feng Shui principles and includes a fitness center, outdoor swimming pool, outdoor deck, billiards room, playroom, catering kitchen, WIFI lounge, and indoor parking.
The most important feature for JC residents is the new state-of-the art facility for the Boys & Girls Club, which will replace the old one on Grand which has become outdated.
On Marin, between 18 Park and the harbor master, is the Krank Systems “Fat Loss” gym, which offers classes and trainers. It is so small that you often see members exercising outside.
On the Other Side of the Tracks
Cross the light rail tracks, and you will find Gull’s Cove luxury condominiums, designed by Hoboken’s Dean Marchetto. Between the light rail tracks and Grand Street is the Liberty Harbor project—condos, rentals, and townhouses, developed by Peter Mocco. Also between the light rail and Grand is the luxury apartment building 225 Grand, another Ironstate project.
A number of businesses have found a home in what is now called the Liberty Harbor Development District. They include Zeppelin Hall Restaurant & Biergarten, Brew Shot, Club Barks, Refresh Dry Cleaners, Liberty Mart, and the Tilted Kilt.
The Tilted Kilt, a franchise with locations in Wayne, East Brunswick, and Hoboken, is perhaps the most obvious sign of the changes that have taken place at Liberty Harbor. This bar and restaurant, noted for its scantily clad waitresses, would have surprised some of the crusty mariners who haunted the old Harbor Casino, the Golden Cicada, and some of the other waterfront watering holes back in the day.
But, like everything in Jersey City, recent transplants have been able to blend into the community, and native Jersey Cityites often enjoy the upgraded amenities. Sit at the White Star, which is where the Harbor Casino used to be, and you’ll see lots of young people, enjoying a Friday night game, but you’ll also see some of the old guard, telling stories about the way things used to be.
Just don’t get them started on the old Greene Street Boat Club.—Kate Rounds