Hoboken and Jersey City, on both the Hudson and Hackensack River sides, will be impacted by sea level rise. If you live in Hoboken, you will not be surprised that it isn’t just the waterfront area that will be underwater in 2100. Parts of Hoboken are below sea level and the city has an ongoing struggle with flooding. Residents can park for free in one of the municipal garages when a flood warning has been issued. A large section between Grand Street to Jackson between 1st and 6th is projected to be subject to sea level rise. This is 9 to 10 blocks from the riverfront. It is a densely populated residential area.
In 2010, Hoboken opened a new waterfront esplanade.
Pier C Park is also a new feature, ingeniously designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. A circle cut out of the pier frames the water, focusing our attention on it as well as the stunning skyline of Manhattan.
As you might guess, the waterfront area all along Hoboken and down through Jersey City to Bayonne will experience sea level rise. All along this waterfront particularly in Jersey City there has been a tremendous amount of recent development, both commercial and residential.
Except that the density and the dizzying height isn’t there, I had moments in which this area of Jersey City reminded me of Shanghai. There is a similar sensation of everything being new. The tallest new building is the Goldman Sacks Tower at 42 stories.
4,000 people work in that one building. In the morning, they stream from the Exchange Place Path station towards it.
This building was built on what was once the Colgate and then the Colgate-Palmolive-Peet soap factory and corporate headquarters. Moved off the Colgate building on which it perched until 1985 when the Colgate complex was razed, the Colgate clock now sits in an empty lot just south of the Goldman Sacks building. Goldman Sacks maintains it. An odd landmark, it serves as an icon of the old manufacturing economy that has been largely replaced by an economy based on financial services.
The Goldman Sacks building and the Colgate Clock sit at the mouth of the Morris Canal basin. This is the geography of coal. This canal brought coal from Pennsylvania to the industries of the metropolitan area before the railroads took over. The cargo was pulled by two mules and took 5 days to travel the 102 miles from Phillipsburg on the Delaware River to Jersey City.
Across the canal, to the south, is Liberty State Park. Before this area was a park, it hosted both the Central Railroad of New Jersey and the Lehigh Valley Railroad terminals, the latter going into business to move coal but eventually carrying passengers. Just as the railroads first put the Morris Canal out of business, so too highways and petroleum made the railroads uncompetitive.
The railroads built on landfill. A big portion of this park, a substantial portion of which consists of sunny lawns, as well as the historic railroad terminal and a brand new monument to 9/11 currently under construction, is predicted to eventually be under water.
The other side of Jersey City along the Hackensack River will lose ground as well. Society Hill and Droyer’s Point are two residential developments built on remediated brownfields of which portions are in the areas expected to suffer sea level rise by 2100.
Most of the rest of this area is occupied by a commercial strip. There is a large incinerator, a waste water treatment plant as well as several malls.
In Lincoln Park, 10.6 million dollars of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money is being used for salt marsh restoration.