The City of Jersey City has unveiled upgrades at Bergen Square that includes a pedestrian plaza, more parking, flood mitigation, and other traffic safety improvements.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“The Journal Square area is an important part of Jersey City’s history and is undergoing an unprecedented renaissance to become one of the most vibrant and exciting places to live, work, and visit in the region,” Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.
“This new Bergen Square revitalization project will be a key part of that progress and will help to ensure that Jersey City remains a thriving and vibrant community for years to come.”
In 2018, the Fulop Administration formed the Bergen Square Committee, which launched an effort to strengthen the historic identity of Bergen Square and activate it as a vibrant public space.
Some of those changes include relocating Public School’s No. 11’s bus area for safer pick ups and drop offs, converting surface parking lots into a 5,400 square foot pedestrian plaza and park space, planting new trees, adding 14 parking spots on Academy Street – which is now a one-way, and building a protected bike rack – among other things.
“We’re thrilled with the public investment being made in Bergen Square,” added Journal Square Special Improvement District Administrator Chris Bernardo.
“The planned improvements will highlight the area’s historical significance while establishing a vibrant and accessible urban space for customers, residents, and visitors to enjoy.”
Other major projects in store for Journal Square are the restoration of the historic Loew’s Jersey Theatre, the addition of Centre Pompidou x Jersey City, and the new Court House Park.
“The Journal Square community has been working closely with the City for years to realize the redesign of Bergen Square, and we are all thrilled to break ground on this project,” added James Dievler, Ph.D., chairman of the Journal Square Community Association History Committee and founding board member of the Museum of Jersey City History at the Apple Tree House.
“Since 1660, Bergen Square has been the site of community exchange and cross-cultural interaction. It is wonderful to see it as such again, both in the public consciousness through events such as Bergen Square Day and now through this momentous groundbreaking for the new Bergen Square Plaza.”
The historical significance of Bergen Square dates back to ancient times when the area served as a critical crossroads for the native Leni Lenape for over a thousand years.
Bergen Square was established in 1660 as the village of Bergen on land long utilized by Lenni Lenape Native American people and itt was the first urban square established in the colonies and is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in New Jersey.
“Bergen Square was the first permanent European settlement in New Jersey. After working closely with the Journal Square Community Association, the Journal Square SID, and community members, our collective vision for Bergen Square is to create usable outdoor public space in the heart of our community with an important emphasis on the area’s historical significance that helped shape our nation,” concluded Department of Infrastructure Director Barkha Patel.