Undeserved reputation

From the Hudson Reporter:

Longtime residents set record straight about 1970s-era Jersey City

Barbara Bromirski, 67, recalls a time when she would take walks from her home on Warren Street to the corner hardware store.

“The neighbors would have been sitting outside on the stoops. The kids would have been playing. Some of the adults would have been keeping an eye on the kids. Just friends. Everybody knew everybody else that lived in the neighborhood,” she said. “It would take me an hour and a half to walk back and forth to the store because you stop, you talk to this neighbor, you talk to that neighbor. It’s just the way it was. It was warm, it was friendly.”

And when did that charming scene take place? The ’40s? The ’50s?

Try 1974.

The decade that Bromirski and quite a few other longtime residents remember so fondly is at the center of what is often considered the worst era in the city’s history.

Back then, embarrassing stories about vandalism, stray dog packs, and joblessness filled the pages of national newspapers. The city was in the middle of a population freefall in which nearly one-third of its residents fled by the end of the decade. And a federally funded study released in 1975 named Jersey City “the worst large American city to live in.”

This is the Jersey City that most outsiders imagine when they hear its name today: the period when the city seemed to slide into the abyss. It’s an image the city continues to struggle to rise above.

Yet many locals who are still around to recall those days said the image is an unfair one. In more than a dozen interviews, these longtime residents described a city that – despite having its share of problems – was never as bad as it has been portrayed.

Several longtime residents said the statistics don’t give the whole story. They said there was a sense of community in the 1970s that transcended the problems of that decade.

“The people were all very, very nice. They were hard-working people, they were honest people, and they were a lot of fun,” Bromirski said. “Our area down here was mixed. We were Polish, Irish, Italian, we were black, we were Hispanic, Russian, German. Any nationality you can name, they’ve been through Downtown Jersey City, and they’re all a part of Jersey City.”

The former Greenville resident likewise recalled his neighborhood’s diversity.

“We had a complete melting pot of an older neighborhood, with Italians, Irish, Polish, German – all races and backgrounds,” he said. “It was amazing.”

This entry was posted in New Jersey Real Estate. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Undeserved reputation

  1. Mitchell says:

    I think many a person has heard me say that North Carolina feels like NJ some 30 years ago. At least it feels like I did when I was a kid.

    Time to move on. Be it anywhere in the country where the state hasn’t drawn every ounce of blood out of you.

Comments are closed.