As you learn about the Harsimus Branch Embankment, you'll be following in the footsteps of Jersey City residents who started their odyssey in 1998, when a proposal to demolish the massive structure first circulated. Though many had witnessed the Branch as a working rail line until the mid-1990s, few knew its owner or much about its fascinating history. Residents began meeting to consider the history of the structure, its contribution to the environment, and whether it should be preserved or—alternatively—demolished and replaced with housing.
After reaching consensus that the Embankment should be preserved as a historic site and reused for much-needed open space and alternative transportation, a core group started the nonprofit, volunteer Embankment Preservation Coalition. Coalition members have worked since 1998 to preserve the site for reuse as a habitat-oriented park and trail, a segment of and destination on the East Coast Greenway, a Maine-to-Florida walking and bicycling trail. The Coalition has also long supported the efforts of the City of Jersey City to acquire the Harsimus Branch for rail, trail, and open space, all compatible public uses that can coexist.
The current Administration has pledged sensitive treatment to the historic site if it is in City control. As the city continues to grow in population, the Coalition is also promoting, through its Crossroads project, greater awareness of the need to connect open space and neighborhoods via trails for walking and bicycling.
You can take advantage of the work by community members to document their findings and to assemble in one place relevant studies undertaken by the City of Jersey City, Hudson County, and others by following the links on this site.
Our learning odyssey, of course, continues. If you have information about the Embankment that you would like to share, please be sure to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.