LEGACY OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION
Jersey City has been the scene of several storied preservation battles. Former legends of the community such as Ted Conrad, J. Owen Grundy, and Morris Pesin valiently fought for preservation of landmarks such as the Hudson County Courthouse, the Loews Jersey Theatre, and the remnants of historic landmarks in Liberty State Park. Neighborhood advocates in the historic sections of downtown successfully worked to obtain designation for four national historic districts.
BIRTH OF A PRESERVATION ORGANIZATION
In the late 1990s, Jersey City began to undergo a boom in development. For the most part, this was, and is, a welcome phenomenon. At the same time, when left unchecked, development was leading to the destruction of the historic resources that made Jersey City unique.
In 1999, several Jersey City residents concerned with the threat to Jersey City’s irreplaceable historic assets met to come up with ways to stem the threat. The members included an artist, an educator, a banker, an economic development official, a contractor, an attorney, and a minister in training. They soon realized that Jersey City had a diverse and active constituency that supported historic preservation. What it lacked was an umbrella organization that could coordinate and support efforts citywide.
From these humble beginings, the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy was incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation. With the majestic Hudson and Manhattan Powerhouse as its logo and its flagship campaign, the fledgling organization immediately began a wide range of activities to preserve, promote and protect Jersey CIty’s irreplaceable historic resources.
Since its founding, JC Landmarks has held walking and bus tours to educate and inspire residents and visitors about the history of Jersey City. It has advocated at the state and local levels for the preservation of landmarks. And it has worked with neighborhood associations, students, artists, churches and the other individuals and organizations that make up the rich tapestry of Jersey City. Throughout all of its work, it is faithful to the underlying belief that Preservation is not simply about keeping old buildings standing, but rather incorporating historic resources into the vibrant and dynamic economic and cultural fabric that makes a great city.
– Joshua Parkhurst, Past President, JC Landmarks