Historic Downtown, located between the Hudson River Waterfront District and Journal Square, is home to several historic districts and most of the historic designated buildings in Jersey City. The area encompasses a significant portion of Jersey City’s brownstone row houses built at the end of the 19th century. Because Historic Downtown was at one time an upscale residential neighborhood, several parks were created for its residents.
After Van Vorst Park and Hamilton Park were built, more residential construction increased the demand for additional retail trade establishments. Retail trade thus became the focal point of what is now the Paulus Hook Historic District. The area still is home to many ground floor commercial establishments with multiple dwelling units above. Many of the retail stores have undergone extensive renovations, particularly in the Special Improvement District. This rehabilitation is attracting new restaurants and retail businesses into the area.
Historic Downtown’s retail area now stretches along Newark Avenue from Grove Street to the east and Brunswick Street to the west although the real east /west barrier is the New Jersey Turnpike extension built in the mid 1950s. Several major retail streets extending from the Tidal Basin in the south and the Hoboken border to the north crisscross the center.
The area is home to City Hall as well as to the main branch of the Jersey City Public Library and the new Jersey City Medical Center. In the last decade, the area has been undergoing gentrification. There has also been a resurgence of the arts community with several galleries and artists’ studios located in what is being referred to as the “Powerhouse Arts District.”