LEGACY OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION
Article in The Jersey Journal Looks Back on 1960s-Era Advocates Who Saved Courthouse - And New Groups Like JC Landmarks That Carry the Preservation Torch!
Posted April 5, 2007 (Updated April 17, 2011)
ACROSS THE ANTI-PRESERVATION AGE
By John Gomez for The Jersey Journal
Published Monday, February 21, 2011
A childhood memory as magnitudinous as the monument itself: my mother driving her dark-gold-tinted Cadillac up Newark Avenue -- it is the early 1970s, and Jersey City's abandoned architecture has already started to pull me in -- while her young son's astonished face is pressed against the back seat window to absorb, in a sudden explosive view, a boarded-up Beaux-Arts colossus.
I had never seen the Hudson County Courthouse before, even though it stood only a few blocks away from our First Street tenement apartment. But there it is in a single-second architectural drive-by: a lost-era edifice entirely new to me, sorrowfully deteriorated and vandalized, soiled and slimed to its Maine granite core with fossil fuel soot -- a muddied monument appearing and vanishing in an instant as our family car speeds away to Five Corners for an unwanted appointment with the doctor.
Architecture often plays with fate -- one moment you are a small child encountering a magic-pulsed edifice from a moving distance and the next moment you are literally standing within its soaring sanctum, that same structural magic matured and magnified by the widened gaze of adulthood.
And so here I am on Newark Avenue in 2011 -- that back-seat discovery far behind me -- entering the courthouse to participate in a public panel that will analyze the building's contextual architectural history and reflect on the citizen-driven battle to preserve it...