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Re: The Financial Times: Jersey City -- You live where?
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Quote:

alb wrote:
[quote]
lothar wrote:
Geez, how many times have I read something like this? /quote]

I think the article is a little silly.

To the extent that it might be true: personally, I think it's great if snobs who live in Snobville have to pay a snob surcharge that I don't have to pay.

To the extent that the argument is fictional: the guy who wrote the column probably had write a column on short notice, and this was something he could write very quickly without exactly libeling anyone or getting anyone riled enough to look into the origins of the article. One question might be whether any of the anonymous acquaintances the guy refers to actually exist.


My snob friends who live in snobvilles - Summit, Chatham, Scarsdale, etc. pay proportionately less in taxes than I do, based on size, value, condition of house, etc. In turn they send their kids to the neighborhood schools without having to run all over town to make sure their kids will be going to a school that by suburban standards is okay at best in terms of teacher qualification, student accomplishment and physical condition of building. I have never heard any of them voice concern about the physical safety of their kids. All of the towns have summer programs and community recreation facilities that JC lacks. Their trash is picked up by collectors who clean up after themselves and their downtowns don't have 3 feet of grass growing around the lampposts, nor are the bases of the lampposts stuffed with garbage. In short, they are getting their money's worth.

Add the cost of private school to a young JC family's tax bill and it looks like they are the one's paying a surcharge.

I should add that I have never been the victim of "you live where?" snobism. I have, however, often been appalled at people's poor knowledge of local geography- before JC became known - the usual response was - wow, you must get up at 4am to get here (lower manhattan). And now I am the victim of ediface envy - many of us old timers who bought early and often find ourselves embarrassingly wealthy, at least on paper and until the deluge.

Posted on: 2007/9/2 13:04

Edited by loucheNJ on 2007/9/2 13:47:16
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Re: The Financial Times: Jersey City -- You live where?
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[quote]
lothar wrote:
Geez, how many times have I read something like this? /quote]

I think the article is a little silly.

To the extent that it might be true: personally, I think it's great if snobs who live in Snobville have to pay a snob surcharge that I don't have to pay.

To the extent that the argument is fictional: the guy who wrote the column probably had write a column on short notice, and this was something he could write very quickly without exactly libeling anyone or getting anyone riled enough to look into the origins of the article. One question might be whether any of the anonymous acquaintances the guy refers to actually exist.

Posted on: 2007/9/2 4:59
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Re: The Financial Times: Jersey City -- You live where?
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Woohoo Grovepath good job haha

Posted on: 2007/9/1 16:52
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Re: The Financial Times: Jersey City -- You live where?
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GrovePath! Groveyboy! Grovey Baby! It's finally happened. You don't just quote the news anymore. You ARE the news. Check this out.

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Posted on: 2007/9/1 16:49
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Re: The Financial Times: Jersey City -- You live where?
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i grew up in jersey, not jersey city, but on the shore. . went to college in the city, then went down multiple cool points and lived on Staten Island! i've been in brooklyn for the past three or four years and will be heading over to JC to move in with someone next year.

I already am getting shit from some of my friends, which is ridiculous. Besides I live in a Flatbush, it isn't even hip. And they are wondering why not look in brooklyn for a place together.

Here is why, where i'll be going i can get a 2bedroom for less than I can get a closet sized bedroom in park slope, and the area is just as nice, and less annoying hemp skirt wearing mothers to be found. the commute is even closer from JC, we can all do without nyc resident tax (ouch!), and having a car in JC is easier and its easier to get out of the city (beach, skiing, minus one hour automatically if i don't have to drive over a bridge and through manhattan to get out of city limits).

williamsburg is a shithole if you ask me, unless you actually like annoying hipsters with no concept of how life works and new ugly as sin condos. and this is happening like crazy in brooklyn and even in higher crime areas like bed-stuy the rent is ridiculous. and bushwick is the 'new frontier' in brooklyn, how is bushwick seen as cool and people still pick on JC? bushwick is gross and ugly.

everyone should get over it though, its not the 70's.. most areas are just as safe as any other at this point (with some obvious exceptions), everything is cool one minute then overdeveloped the next. i mean come on, they are calling the South Bronx SoBro now!!! its ridiculous.

anyway, the jersey city bashing is lame. everyone should get over it and learn what really is important, connecticut bashing.

/end rant.

Posted on: 2007/9/1 15:01
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Re: The Financial Times: Jersey City -- You live where?
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What I actually love about this article is the way it contextualizes the issue for people who have never heard of Jersey City. My husband is British and I am sure that a lot of his friends will now be thinking "Oooh, he's doing that thing that we did 25 years ago when we lived in Brixton!" It does some of the cultural translation that doesn't always make sense: "You live 10 minutes away from Manhattan, but it's across a state line?" Yes, we draw our state lines in funny places sometimes, but as we all know (or discover in time) it does become all NYC psychically (with benefits)!

Posted on: 2007/9/1 14:10
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Re: The Financial Times: Jersey City -- You live where?
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Lothar I am with you on this article. People live where they live for a variety of reasons. To derive your self-worth from your address seems superficial to me. These things are subject to change too. It wasn't that long ago that if you were from anywhere in Brooklyn you were considered "Bridge and Tunnel" now Brooklyn is conceivably the "coolest" address in the country.

There always was a middle-class here in Jersey City. Not everyone left during the 60's. Those who lef left for a variety of reasons and those who stayed stayed for a variety of reasons. I can only speak of my experience. I went to an all girls Catholic high school here in Jersey City during the 80's. My classmates were of many different ethnicities and came from families of different economic levels. I went to school with the daughters of doctors, lawyers, police officers, civil servants, middle management, and factory workers who worked two jobs to pay the tuition., etc.

I am glad to see the perception of my city changing but I find it funny that people think they "discovered" Jersey City.

Posted on: 2007/9/1 12:48
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Re: The Financial Times: Jersey City -- You live where?
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Geez, how many times have I read something like this?
I grew up on Long Island and have lived there and here in Hudson county just about all my life and the only people who ever grouse about some stigma on the Jersey side are people who aren't from the area. None of my Manhattan friends (who grew up in Manhattan) or friends and family in LI and NJ feel any stigma about this side at all - it's all the NYC area, and you live where you live and it's psychically New York City even if it says New Jersey. And everyone knows the JC and Hoboken had a bad rap once - but so did the Village and Williamsburg (was way worse, by the way) once.
The people who do talk about a Jersey stigma and those who have some weird self-prohibition against leaving Manhattan because they came from somewhere outside of the area, are killing themselves to pay their $2,500 a month for a one bedroom somewhere between the rivers and feel they'd die if it ever got out to their friends and family in Podunk that they went to a party in New Jersey (so not glamorous!) or are so lacking in self-confidence that they have to spend a lot of effort justifying why their phone doesn't start with 212.
I'm going back to my coffee, reading about the Yanks and looking forward to my quick run into dinner in Tribeca tonight without worrying about my feelings on where I live.

Posted on: 2007/9/1 12:09
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Re: The Financial Times: Jersey City -- You live where?
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I think that posting articles like this strengthens the position that GP should continue in his role as JCLists media watchdog. My only regret is that I will not have the pleasure of reading the article when FT shows up on my stoop this morning.

The only thing I question is the statement about DTJC going from upperclass in one generation - except for the area around VVP, I always thought the area was middle class and working class Euro ethnics and their descendants until the mid 60s.

Posted on: 2007/9/1 11:59
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The Financial Times: Jersey City -- You live where?
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You live where?

The Financial Times of London
August 31
By Christopher Bowe in New York

I’ve become used to the looks of horror passing over people’s faces when I tell them I’ve moved from the East Village of Manhattan to Jersey City, New Jersey. “Oh ... ” is the near universal response as they verbally start to back away. One friend asked “How do you get there?”, as if it might require a flight. Another wanted to know if I’d stolen my first car yet. And when I told a colleague about my relocation, she recounted a fearful tale of going to “Jersey” to buy her new Mercedes-Benz but feeling so embarrassed about having license plates from the state that, upon arriving home in New York, she removed them and kept the car in a garage until replacements came.

I’ll admit that Jersey City, New Jersey is an awkward name; two mentions of “Jersey” in the same breath is too much for most New Yorkers. And many people have long associated the town with severe industrial decay and political corruption.

But these days, Jersey City is a thriving boom town, in the midst of a construction surge that could add 65,000 new housing units in 25 years, all priced well below New York’s red-hot property market. With a new baby in tow, my wife and I were able to find a late-19th-century, two-storey apartment more than twice the size of our old East Village space for roughly the same cost. Bars, restaurants and shops – some new and trendy, some old mainstays – are sprinkled throughout a neighbourhood sprouting from decades of change. A walk through its green spaces is like a tour through prewar America and the state park along New York Harbor, with views to the Statue of Liberty, is only a 15-minute stroll away.

As Jersey City residents, my wife and I no longer pay New York City personal income tax, a not insignificant boost to our standard of living. And my ride to work – on the PATH train that runs under the Hudson River – is no longer the one I used to take using Manhattan subways from the East Village.

Yet, in New York, Jersey City still prompts people to raise an sceptical eyebrow. It’s one of those places that is so very close to a great world city yet somehow ever so far away. In fact, my simple trip to work in Manhattan could be the least respected quick commute in the world.

That’s not to say there aren’t other people with the same problem.

In London, the rehabilitation of the Docklands, an area of shipping and rail terminals just east of the City financial centre, opened it up to high-quality commercial and residential developments; there’s even a Gordon Ramsay pub there now. But those who have left more established neighbourhoods for the converted lofts and modern condominiums further east still get questions about what they were thinking.

“Everyone asks when we’re coming back to civilisation,” says Frank Smith, who moved to a penthouse in Limehouse Basin with his partner, Christopher Wilks, last year. “Most of the clientele for our cabinet-making business is in the West End and Chelsea. And when our friends visit, they feel they’re coming on an excursion; nine times out of ten we tell them to bring their clothes and stay over.”

Partly because of these reactions, Smith has realised that he, too, is a city-centre snob. “Our apartment is beautiful, it overlooks a marina, we have one of the best views in London – and I can’t wait to sell it,” he says.

Robert Lang, an urban planning expert and director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech university, confirms that Smith is facing the same problem in the Docklands that I am in Jersey City. “There’s a legacy, a stigma,” he says. “But it’s just a near-miss from some of the most glorious places in the world. Both got remade because of proximity.”

Istanbul offers another, older case study. Continents really are crossed as commuters drive over the Bosphorus from the city’s suburban Asian side to its European cultural and business centre. The latter is synonymous with urban chic, while the former is “totally the opposite of hip”, says Istanbul native Defne Chaffin.

Residents of San Francisco, one of the US’s most fabled cities, look just as unfavourably upon Oakland, its neighbour across the bay. “People try to convince themselves” that living outside San Francisco itself is pleasant and “there are some militant East Bayers”, says one pharmaceutical executive who has lived in the better known city for 20 years. But “Oakland [still] has an inferiority complex.”

Water is a common divide for such perceptions. It also separates the Asian financial capital and former British colony of Hong Kong from Kowloon in mainland China. Although it’s just a short, one-train-stop commute from one to the other, many regard the journey as a jump from glittering city to the “dark side”. “Kowloon really is too much of China,” says Peter McMillan, a financial analyst who was born and raised in the area.

Still, since moving to New York in 2005, even he now agrees that the stigma I face – “the distaste when one tells people they live in Jersey and the funny look on their faces” – is worse.

Doug Muzzio, professor of public policy at Baruch College in New York, thinks the situation is best summed up by a famous 1976 New Yorker cover, which showed a Manhattanite’s view from 9th Avenue. New Jersey is just a strip of dirt almost as distant as the Pacific Ocean. “New Yorkers are a chauvinistic bunch,” he says.

But that was 30 years ago, when Jersey City was indeed a troubled ghost town, a steel-spaghetti mess of abandoned railyards, decaying piers and warehouses. Today, it is full of gleaming new skyscrapers housing high-profile companies, such as Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase. The downtown area, along the river and facing Manhattan, has been rejuvenated. Once neglected 19th- and early-20th-century brownstones – famously offered for $7,500 in a radio advertisement broadcast during a 1976 New York Yankees’ World Series baseball game – are now valued at $1m. New hotels are popping up. And residential construction is booming.

Prime new waterfront condominium projects include 77 Hudson and a Trump tower, with luxury units offering a bird’s eye view of Manhattan, priced from $500,000 to $1m. Others are Grove Point, Athena Group’s “A” building and LeFrak Corporation’s new tower at Newport, an extension of the ground-breaking development that turned the railyards into a suburban-urban mini-city on the river.

Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas is designing his first large-scale US residential project, a 52-storey tower of stacked rectangular blocks for artists’ lofts, a gallery, condos, a hotel and shops, to serve as the centrepiece of an arts district planned near the hulking shell of a power station. The city’s foreboding, massive, run-down hospital, located on a hill away from the waterfront in what locals call “the real Jersey City”, is now an art deco condo building, with a penthouse that recently sold for $2.3m. And Liberty Harbour, from developer Peter Mocco and architect Andre’s Duany, is transforming an abandoned plot along a tidal basin into new streets of old-style, low-rise city residences.

The idea, says Bob Cotter, city planning director, is to emphasise a “human scale”, encouraging foot traffic and continuity with the past. It’s an attempt to rebuild the best of Jersey City life before the 1970s, when residents began moving to the suburbs en masse. “Essentially the whole downtown section of town went from being upper class to abandoned in a decade,” he says.

That swift demise is what makes Jersey City an excellent test case for redevelopment and reputation recovery, according to urban planning experts. Its initiatives, successes, failures and future will be closely watched.

More broadly, Lang says, it is part of a global trend changing the dynamics of the world’s great cities. Central, first-tier, neighbourhoods are not enough to support growing economies and middle-class populations any more; urban property prices are soaring and developers have run out of space on which to build both homes and offices. As a result, the orbiting cloud of the huge metropolis must expand, once-maligned surrounding areas must be enveloped and, eventually, long-held myths and stereotypes must be destroyed.

“The scale of the metropolitan areas around the world is so much bigger that [what is considered to be] the core must be bigger,” Lang says. “In those terms, Jersey City is at the centre of it all.”

Of course, my Jersey City is an almost 30-year work in progress and some of the worries that people have about it are legitimate. In spite of improvements, including new housing, the city’s schools have been under state control for two decades because of historically low quality, which continues to discourage young families from coming to the area. Last year saw the launch of a large road resurfacing project but other infrastructure is stressed. The city is also poorer than the national average, with 19 per cent of residents living below the poverty line. And crime, which had been on the rise, only started to fall last year, bucking regional and national trends, which the mayor attributes to his plan to form a gang task force and increase the number of police. These are the growing pains of a city that fell fast and hard even by global standards.

There are things I miss about living in New York too. Late-night food can be challenging to find in Jersey City and the energy and verve of street life isn’t the same. “Cool” does count in terms of coveted places to live and all the disrespected commuter towns suffer from a deficit of this elusive quality; quiet is always a double-edged sword, no matter what continent you’re living on.

Even Cotter acknowledges that Jersey City will never be Manhattan, just as Oakland will never be San Francisco and Kowloon will never be Hong Kong. Still, he says, at some point in the future, it “might be better than Brooklyn”. And perhaps that’s the real contest: to be the next best, and closest, residential destination.

Jersey City mayor Jerramiah Healy, who is a vivid proxy for his city (unpolished and slightly dishevelled with an accent echoing of an older era in the region) also knows he is fighting a pitched battle. “I can’t stop people from saying New Jersey or Jersey City is second-rate. You can’t persuade all the people to see the light. [But] if you visit our city, you’ll see the secret is out.”

I realise it’s a state of the human condition to justify living in any area, particularly if it’s less desirable. Within me now, there is a little part of the militant East Bayers the pharmaceutical executive knows and the Istanbul Asian-siders who force their friends to come visit. You get the feeling that people who move to Manhattan from elsewhere like to to reinvent themselves as ultra-New-Yorkers by denigrating places like Jersey City. But the city changes and the search for better living is its lifeblood. Having resided in Jersey City for 12 months now, I swear it all melts together into one New York, except I now have more space for less money, better views and, perhaps most importantly, no attitude.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
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Posted on: 2007/9/1 10:37

Edited by GrovePath on 2007/9/1 11:24:47
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