Jersey City is New York’s unofficial sixth borough, unless the sixth borough is really Hoboken, Fort Lee, Yonkers, or Miami. Despite being just a PATH train or tunnel ride from Manhattan, however, it’s not at the forefront of New Yorkers’ minds. That’s a shame, because the neighborhood offers delicious food, open spaces, and cultural treasures.
Here are five of the best places you can go in Jersey City—and we won’t even mention the Statue of Liberty—since she’s technically a New Yorker—or the unmissable Ellis Island immigration museum, since only parts of it are in New Jersey (the parts of Ellis Island that existed in 1834 belong to New York, while Jersey claims all the landfill added since).
Museum of Russian Art
Located near the waterfront just north of Liberty State Park, the Museum of Russian Art is small but unique, focusing on twentieth and twenty-first century Russian art, with a particular emphasis on nonconformist Soviet art. Recently, the museum has featured artists such as Belarusians Nikolai Seleschuk, a bold, surrealist-tinged painter, and Vladimir Schepelevich, whose quieter work blurs abstraction and landscape.
Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial
The dramatic, arresting waterfalls that now dominate the Ground Zero site are perhaps the most iconic memorial of the events of September 11, 2001. On a smaller scale, but equally moving, is the Empty Sky memorial that mourns the 749 New Jersey residents who died in the September 11 attacks, recording their names. The memorial—located in Liberty State Park, where many witnesses watched the events of that day unfold—consists of twin walls that mimic the proportions of the towers that once stood across the Hudson.
White Mana is a futuristic Art Deco diner with an octagonal structure. Not to be confused with their fierce Hackensack rivals White Manna, White Mana opened in Flushing Meadows in 1939 for the World’s Fair, as a diner of the future. The whole structure was shipped out to Jersey City in 1946, where the diner has survived well into the new millenium, sticking with the tried-and-true approach of keeping the burgers meaty and cheap.
The name was originally White Manna, but Coca-Cola accidentally forced a name change when they serviced the sign and returned it missing an ‘n’.
Torico Ice Cream
Torico describes its fare as “very unique homemade flavors that reflect our founder’s love of tropical tastes of Puerto Rico.” Now in its fifth decade, Torico is definitely “very unique,” with tropical flavors inspired by the diversity of the neighborhood, like soursop sorbet, jackfruit, and ube (purple yam) alongside more conventional favorites like chocolate chip cookie dough.
New Park Tavern
Just off Communipaw Avenue this West Side bar isn’t exactly a speakeasy, but it doesn’t advertise itself either—you could walk past without knowing what it was. Inside, this slightly divey bar, with its battered tables, Guinness posters, and jukebox, boasts what are widely acclaimed as the best burgers in Jersey City, and the courtyard out back is surprisingly cute.
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