Abandoned Rails of Jersey City

Picture Point of Interest

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Greg Harrison

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The Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal: The CNJ Terminal on the Hudson River. Photo by Mike Palmer, October 2008.

The Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal: The main terminal in Jersey City, NJ, was used until 1967 as the transfer point between CNJ (Central Railroad of New Jersey) commuter trains and the passenger ferries to Manhattan. In 1967, all remaining CNJ commuter trains were rerouted to the Pennsylvania Railroad Station in Newark, NJ. The CNJ station was then closed and fell into decline. The yard tracks in the area were no longer needed, and no new tenants moved into the location.

After a decades of neglect, the terminal building and its surrounding area was selected for revitalization as Liberty Park. The former yard area is now a grassy park. The passenger terminal now serves as the ticket office and loading dock for the ferry to Ellis island and Liberty Island. The interior of the building features a memorial display for those killed on September 11; there are also storyboards illustrating the building's railroad history. The 20-track trainshed still stands, with "train departure" boards recreated for each track; there is also a memorial to CNJ railroaders. An isolated track segment has a baggage car, boxcar and caboose. The trainshed itself has decayed significantly; it is fenced off and the track area is filled with weeds. Another isolated track segment crosses the stone-paved access road to the building.

See also the Township of Elizabeth.

Thanks to Mike Palmer for contributing information about this route.

The re-routing of CNJ passenger trains in 1967 (the Aldene Plan)was into the Pennsylvania Station in Newark, not Hoboken.

Kevin Cunningham
Canton, MA

[Thanks Kevin, it has been corrected.  —Greg Harrison]


The baggage car displayed at the terminal (now a souvenier shop) is actually a Lacakwanna car, though it has been repainted as CNJ. It still wore faded E-L Gray-Maroon-Yellow colors into the mid-90s.

Dave Goessling
High Bridge, NJ


My Dad often told me of commuting from Philadelphia to NYC, on the Reading line and transfering by ferry into lower Manhattan. He died aged 91 in 2003 and was alway sharp at a tack, I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to show him this place. During the war, as a draftman, he commuted on the same Reading line to the Eastern Aircraft facility on Parkway Avenue, in Ewing/West Trenton, where he served during those years. This country would be so better off, if we brought back comprehensive rail service.

Charles McWilliams
Princeton, NJ


In the abandon rails of Jersey City page above.

The CNJ West Side Ave branch continued south to Duncan Ave. Just feet short of the Lehigh Valley branch. Actually Duncan Ave separated the two branches. The Lehigh Valley Branch also continued north parallel to Rt. 440 to a warehouse one block south of Communipaw Ave. Street on south side of park. In this area the LV was using the filled in canal bed of the Morris Canal, the light blue line coming in from the river by Rt.9

Andrew Brusgard
Jersey City, NJ


We lived in Greenpoint, Brooklyn NY, my father was born in Jersey City down in the Horse Shoe Section, his family had a house down in Ideal Beach, and I always enjoyed when we went down there to the Keansburg Station, with a good ole Camelback puffing away on the Sea Shore Line. I can still smell the creosote at the ferry terminals on West St and in Jersey City. I recall as well the B&O trains and buses. I remember when we would be coming home on the ferry on a Sunday night and the ferry was loaded with produce trucks on there way to the vegetable market on Washington St near where the WTC is now. I also remember the Memorial Day 7:32 PM out of Keansburg with the CNJ's first Budd Car, one car only with over a hundred people on it and the conductor on the bottom step of the steps at the end of the car, as we creeped into Matawan. When I moved down to the area around 1965, I used to take the train into Jersey City each morning, a Budd car starting from Keansburg and we made the Jersey City Terminal in about 55 minutes. Then it stopped running, I think it was September 1965. So sad. Too bad that with the clogged highways today that there isn't more commuter rail service in central New Jersey, maybe even a line right up the middle of the Garden State Parkway. As well there are a lot of right of ways just sitting there.

Richard Burke
Toms River orig Brooklyn, NJ


The restoration people may have saved the ferry and terminal building, but they did not preserve anything. The inside of Central Terminal was very beautifulinside and if you doubt me, take a close look at the movie Funny Girl, which was filmed inside the terminal. For some reason they were allowed to gut the entire building back to bare brick. It now looks like giant coal bins. They also ripped down the old Railway Mail Service Office attached to the south side of the building. They only thing that was preserved was the outside of the building. I have to wonder what happened to all the ornate trim mostly made of copper and decorative fixtures. I can only imagine who made a fortune on that deal. Former RMS Clerk Hoboken & Central Terminals.

Jersey City, NJ


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