Revisiting the Journal Square question
July 19, 2007 4:46 PM   Subscribe

Prior Ask MetaFilter discussions about Jersey City suggest that living in Journal Square is a bad idea. Is that really true?

Reading Journal Square is the dumps! last year significantly dampened my and my husband's enthusiasm for moving to Jersey City. But recently I talked with some people who live near Journal Square, and they said the neighborhood is changing all the time, block by block. I've also started finding comments in other places that suggest many parts of the area are safe.

At City-Data, for instance, someone wrote:Where do you get your information??? I used to live on Fairview Avenue which is not far from Garrison St.. This is not a "borderline bad" area. The rough areas of Jersey City are at further south of Fairview Ave, which is south of Garrison. Or do do some non-white faces in the neighborhood make it "borderline bad" in your book? Please stop posting bad info on these forums.

I left a follow-up question there and decided to post it here, too, because I know I'm not the only one in the New York City area who's disheartened by the lack of affordable housing in Brooklyn and Queens and looking for other options.

My husband and I are thinking of buying a house in or near Journal Square. Right now we live in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, so far north that we're practically in Long Island City. (In fact, I walk over a bridge into Queens to take the train into the city every morning.) Our current neighborhood is a mix of Puerto Rican and other Latino families, Polish families, and relative newcomers. Not far from my apartment is one of the most notorious SROs in the city; the Times did a long article early last year on all the drug deaths there. But I have only rarely felt unsafe in my neighborhood, though I've lived there for several years, since before the massive wave of gentification really reached that far north. Now there are coffee shops, but that wasn't the case when we moved there.

We can't afford to buy a place in Greenpoint, and while I'd be happy to live in Jackson Heights (as several of my friends do) or Kensington or Sunnyside or some other area of Brooklyn or Queens that some people on this site would no doubt consider dicey, all we would be able to afford in those neighborhoods -- and this is at best -- is a small 2-bedroom apartment.

Listings for the Journal Square area suggest that a small house could be a possibility.

So what I need to know is this: I am a small white woman. I have lived in New York City for nine years and grew up in Miami. I'm perfectly comfortable living and moving around in neighborhoods where people of any ethnicity reside. I do not require coffee shops, cafes, or darling bodegas that sell seven varieties of brie. I would, however, like to avoid the usual things: being raped, mugged, held at gunpoint, beaten severely about the head and shoulders, etc. How feasible is this in the Journal Square area if I'm going to be getting home around 9 to 10 at night? How about at midnight? Is the area as far south as Lincoln Park dangerous? If so, do the streets that far south of the PATH vary significantly based on distance from the park? Is there a car service I can call from the PATH station if I get home very late?

We are going to look at houses in the area tomorrow night, so I expect that I will have more information then, but I am very interested in hearing from people who actually live in or visit the neighborhood now.Please don't suggest Hoboken or the Grove St. area. For those prices I'll stay east of Manhattan.

Thanks for any insight you can offer.
posted by maud to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
 
I lived in Jersey City for the last three years, and never felt unsafe. I lived downtown for two years (Varick & Columbus) and in the northern end of the Heights, just south of North Bergen near Washington Park. It's not quite the Journal Square area, but close, and comparable safety-wise. Downtown there was never any of feeling unsafe, though I did have a friend get mugged once very late at night. Nothing serious (they even believed him when he told them he had no money on him) but a punch or two. Again, one incident to one guy I knew in two years. I loved living downtown. In the Heights, my fiancee occasionally felt unsafe walking late at night by herself, but no one ever really gave us cause to be alarmed. There are dollar buses that run from Journal Square along Kennedy and downtown, so it's fairly easy to get around.

We also had several female friends who lived between Journal Square and Lincoln Park (closer to the park) that would walk home from the PATH at all hours.

Good luck to you, I loved Jersey City.
posted by krakedhalo at 5:09 PM on July 19, 2007


I live in the super-gentrified Hamilton Park area and never really explored much, but my girlfriend was walking around looking for jersey city college and was telling me how nice Journal Square was and how we should move there when we're done having roommates besides each other.
posted by Brainy at 5:21 PM on July 19, 2007


I live downtown - in the Van Vorst park neighborhood, which is pretty gentrified as well and has also recently endured something of crime wave (muggings, some of them alarmingly & unnecessarily violent). There's been a huge community response, with two public rallies, etc. I'm not sure how to characterize whether I feel "safe" - I'm aware that there's a non-trivial chance that something could happen, particularly if I'm walking alone late at night, and I'm definitely alert at those times, but it's not a creepy "I'm not safe in my own neighborhood" feeling at all.

I've been directly around Journal Square late at night only when at events at the Loews, and haven't felt unsafe then, but I don't have a feel for the neighborhoods to the south. I think there are generally taxis at the PATH station.

I hesitate to recommend it because you will not get an unambiguous answer to your question there either, but the JClist boards are very active and regularly field "is this neighborhood safe" questions. A search in the archives will yield many opinions on the neighborhoods you're considering. One common recommendation is to find the local police substation and talk to the police stationed there.

I love Jersey City, too. It inspires affection.
posted by yarrow at 6:38 PM on July 19, 2007


Thanks, everybody! This is all really helpful information.
posted by maud at 7:52 PM on July 19, 2007


I just moved out of Jersey City in July. I lived in the Heights area. It really is block by block in JSQ and the heights. I never really saw any really nice spots in JSQ, but check out the heights. Take a drive along Central Ave- Ferry St, Borahem (closer the the Palisade Ave end), Ogden (parallel to Central on the other side of Palisade). Those were some of my favorite places. And the heights has an added bonus- The Resevior is now open in the summer for fishing, kyaking, and nature walks (if you drive down Central from JSQ it will be on your left Central & Resevior).
posted by MayNicholas at 8:50 AM on July 20, 2007


I should also add that I lived in the Heights for 8 years and I too am a small white woman and I never felt unsafe Ferry St). There is a cab station at the JSQ Path so you can always get one.
posted by MayNicholas at 8:53 AM on July 20, 2007


Thanks again, everyone. We visited, and fell in love with the area.
posted by maud at 10:40 AM on July 23, 2007


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