After nearly a century since it was blasted out of the Palisades, the Bergen Arches and Erie Cut are making headlines again as they are reinterpreted as a open space project rooted in the rich history of Jersey City. Local business Green Villain has assembled a team of architects, designers, scholars, community activists, videographers and media outlets to help reconceptualize an abandoned train tunnel into a cultural destination in the heart of Jersey City.
Bergen Arches is the common name for the Erie Railroad’s mile-long, four-track cut through the Palisades in Jersey City. It linked the railroad's main line to the Hudson River waterfront and eventually Manhattan, for it's 30,000 daily passengers. The passage was finished in 1910, though since the last train in 1959, the Bergen Arches has become overlooked and almost completely forgotten.
So + So Studio, a Berlin based architecture firm has teamed up with Jersey City based place making organization, Green Villain, as well as local residents and activists to present their vision for the redevelopment of The Bergen Arches. They strive to continue to engage the general public, continue the conversation about urban land conservation and spark a movement that reactivates Jersey City's backyard.
With focus on preservation and adaptive reuse, the team proposes site specific landscape and architectural interventions to create a new public park and walkway, promote local artists and boost Jersey City’s overall cultural reputation. A series of paths could explore the Erie Cut, sixty feet below the hustle and bustle of everyday life, through an elevated system of ramps and walkways that meander through the vegetation canopies, sculpture gardens, murals and more.
As our post-industrial city continues to amass mid to high-rise towers, it is imperative that we look down as much as we look up for the answers about individuality and place. The stick and steel will allow the residents to live here, Restaurant Row to eat here, but without Jersey City-centric projects that allow us to compete on the global stage we will always be haunted by the specter of placelessness. The Bergen Arches project is the answer. Help us to reclaim and revitalize these spaces that bare such history and call for a creative future for Jersey City