There’s a reason or two why Manhattan (and NYC in general) “works,” despite being one of the most densely populated regions in the world: A first class (underground) public transit system – as well as strategically-placed high-speed freeways. It always puzzles me why waterfront over-development continues on the Jersey side – without those crucial components.
Some key stats:
- Manhattan’s population density per square mile: 72,000 (around 23 sq. miles)
- Hoboken’s population density per square mile: 42,000 (1.3 sq. miles)
- All of New York City per square mile: 28,000 (around 300 sq. miles)
Hoboken has always been an interesting subject for analysis. It’s relatively square and a shade over a mile of area. Only one minor railway (the highly ineffective light rail far away from the center). An easy “walking” city (as well as bicycling). Major transportation hub (NJ Transit, PATH, Ferries). It works for the most part – but we feel it’s way beyond capacity.
Each new building that goes up just adds stress to a city that cannot handle more – for the infrastructure as well as the overall quality of life. But we’ve known that for a long time – and most sensible people are fully aware that no stop-gap solutions (i.e., bike sharing) will change the future crisis’s Hoboken will face. It’s just a matter of “who’s mess” it will be to remedy (if at all).
Not just Hoboken, but the entire “desirable” waterfront
But another good place to witness this waterfront over-development it in action is along the Hudson River waterfront to the north of Hoboken. Have you ever driven through Edgewater (as well as Weehawken, Fort Lee, etc.?) It’s a classic example of over-development on steroids.
Edgewater land area is listed at a smidge under one square mile (with a density of about 12,000 per) – but we’d suspect the real liveable space is between a half and three-quarters of a mile square due to that pesky steep cliff to the west.
And we think Edgewater is at even more of a disadvantage than Hoboken due to the layout. Not a walking city, despite the light rail and ferry access. You need a car.
Yet they keep on stuffing more cookie cutter condos along the Hudson. One after another for the past 15 years (and especially during the last five years).
Slow moving traffic even in the middle of a weekday – and insane during the peak hours. I’d hate to be in the center of Edgewater during an emergency.
But there is demand (mostly foreign), so you have capitalism at work.
I guess some of the important questions you should ask yourself are:
- Who is following the dots? Asking who benefits?
- Are there any shady dealings that can be uncovered?
- Hardly any “politicians” in days past are ever held responsible for the “mess” they essentially created for today. Pointing the finger at decisions people made (or accepted) 20 or 30 years ago doesn’t seem to make a difference. Yet the same mistakes are made over and over for each new phase or generation. That would be a great starting point to put an end to short-term gains for long-term failures.
Frankly – we can go on and on about all the factors that have led to these circumstances in New Jersey – as well as other fashionable areas across the country. But there are many common denominators that pop up quite often. Greed. Short-sightedness. Manipulation. Pies in the sky. Marketing. Dog and Pony. Bait and switch. Suckers.
It’s just up to you to see the writing on the wall and take appropriate action (or non-action).
Photo Essay: Waterfront Over-development in New Jersey
Below is a photo essay (with captions) during a recent trip to the Asian market in Edgewater.