Ode to Jersey City: A Love Letter

Dear Jersey City, I love you.

I love how your tree-lined streets provide bits of shade in the hot summer months, and I love the mish-mash of old brownstones, run-down painted clapboards and modern architectural wonders that line your tree-lined streets in rainbow-rowed grids.

I love all of the parks and the green spaces here, from Liberty State to Lincoln, from Hamilton to Van Vorst, from Riverview to Newport, and more. Our children can run and play and we can relax, at least for a minute fraction of a second.

I love how your residents also love you enough to band together and clean you up, removing the trash and debris that keep you from putting your best face forward.

I love all the resources that make parenting in Jersey City fun, from music to art to language to dance; you give us a lot to play with.

I love all the support that you provide to moms-to-be and new moms.

I love your entrepreneurial spirit and the scads of small businesses popping up because you love your entrepreneurs back.

I love that your small businesses – even competitors – are nice to each other, applauding and supporting one another’s efforts and collaborating whenever possible. Every old mom and pop in town started somewhere, and it was like that, long ago.

I love how many dinner parties result from said small business collaborations.

I love taking photos of you, and I love that I learned how to take photos here.

I love your artists, all of them, so many of them that this side of the Hudson buzzes with creativity and hustle and appreciation for beauty in expression. For example (enjoy a few captures of your artists' beauty):

I love that there is a one-point-five million square foot art and cultural center here, and a huge science center to explore.

I love that there are farmers’ markets nearly every day in the summer and because of that I can serve fresh produce to my two-year-old that she will actually eat because farm fresh = flavor.

And I love your vintage and artist markets, too, where I can discover, admire and support your local artists' work, and/or a piece of history, and represent that vibe I mentioned above proudly, even if I wasn't born here.

I love the fact that after just one year, I can attend any market in Jersey City and know the majority of the people in attendance, at least to say hello. Feels nice to have that community and it certainly doesn't exist everywhere.

I love how many unique stories there are to tell in Jersey City. Just look to EIGHTY Magazine or ChicpeaJC’s culture blog to scratch the surface of the tip of the iceberg of what exists.

I love walking around to people-watch and admire the style of your residents, just soaking up the vibe of this city and how much the people who live here – both residents old and new – love it.

I love dancing in the streets with my daughter at Groove on Grove or exploring artists’ studios during JCFridays.

I love all the ways I can move my body here, whether its Hip-Fit with Laura, barre, or just the good ole fashioned gym.

I love overlooking your Sixth Street embankment from my deck, imagining it as a coiffed lush green blend of New York’s Highline and Paris’ Promenade Plantée. It kind of is now, in an un-manicured way. (I’ve also loved staying out of that debate, because I don’t like to introduce the drama of wealth and politics into my imaginary railroad parks).

I love how much you love food. Or maybe it’s us damn gentrifying yuppies who love food and have brought on this culture. In that case, I love that you allow foodies and damn gentrifying yuppies to love food here.

I love that I can get authentic French food, or Portuguese, Italian (definitely plenty of Italian), Jamaican, Latin American (of every variety), Korean, Indian, Filipino or Farm-to-Table style cuisine, and so much more.

But I love that there aren’t 30,000 restaurants here.

I love that there are gorgeous beaches for swimming and sunbathing, and mountains to climb, and parks to camp out in, only a couple hours or less right outside your city center.

I love the strength of the wellness community – from Radical Wellness to JS Wellness to Modern Sage, and Bone-In Food, Wheath and Busy Bee Organics, to Michelle Timek Yoga, Yoga in the Heights, and Brian the Chiropractor for whom you must wait for eleven people in front of you to see. This community exists to make others’ lives better and that’s an incredible resource you provide.

Your diversity is what I love the most, Jersey City.

I love that there are so many different languages spoken at the playground that I can’t identify most of them, and that such diversity rings in the ears of my young child, reflected in a fellow child near her, allowing her to appreciate her own diverse heritage.

I love that Lady Liberty is watching over us most closely, and I love that the history of this country was born on your shorelines.

I love your waterfront because I definitely love looking at the Manhattan skyline much more than I love looking out of it.

I love how easy it is to get into the City, and more importantly, I love how easy it is to get out and return to you, Jersey City.

I love that some people still aren’t sure about this side of the Hudson, the final few who don’t realize that this is the best little city to live in – truly the best of all worlds in the entire greater NYC area.

I love that this hesitation is keeping the rest of ‘em at bay.

I love how much money you’ve saved us, Jersey City, money we can put toward the next chapter of our lives, money we were unnecessarily hemorrhaging simply by existing in Manhattan.

I love how much space you have afforded my family this year, how much room to breath and to live, outdoor space to watch the planes leave or land in Newark, or oogle the fireworks on the fourth of July.

I love your haters and your naysayers who wish we never moved here, because I love how much they love Jersey City. This really is their city, far before it was temporarily mine. And I love that they are proud enough of it to want to protect it from fair weather friends.

But I hope they don’t mind if I love it a little (or a lot), too. 'cause I do. And I'm going to love it and appreciate the days I've spent here whether they like it or not.