of the Old Stone House at the southeast corner of Newark Avenue and Grove
Source: H. Eaton, Jersey City and Its Historic Sites
Memorial Park and the Grove Street PATH station in the foreground; the
Mack-Cali Realty Corporation building at 95 Christopher Columbus Drive
rises in the background.
bronze plaque honoring two servicemen
Thousands of commuters daily pass through a triangular-shaped plaza as they wait for a bus or use the Grove Street PATH station. Few know much about the history of this small municipal park in the downtown section of Jersey City.
The intersection of today's Newark Avenue, Christopher Columbus Drive, and Grove Street has served as a crossroad for the city since 1841. Known as Grove Plaza, it pulled together the dispersed settled areas in the Van Vorst Township.
Christopher Columbus Drive was originally called Railroad Avenue. It was so named as Jersey City's early railroads ran along this thoroughfare, originally at grade level and subsequently along elevated tracks, which followed the length of the street from the waterfront westward. Today, the PATH train tracks run underground following the same right-of-way of the railroad.
The small park was
once the site of a four-story tenement building and the Old Stone House,
a tavern owned by a Democratic Party freeholder "Sandy" Clements;
it faced Grove Street in the old town of Van Vorst. Cornelius Van Vorst
and others found the town in 1841 on the portion of land that had been
settled in 1638. It was adjacent to the old Jersey City and extended south
to the City Hall area. The town
lasted ten years when it joined the municipality of Jersey City.
Dedicated in 1947, the .13 acre park became the Fitzgerald-Holota Memorial Park. It was named to honor two Jersey City soldiers who were killed in action during World War II. Pvt. William Fitzgerald served with the 141st Infantry of the 38th Division of the US Army and was killed in action in France on October 3, 1944. He was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Good Conduct Medal, and the European Theater ribbon. Sgt. Eugene M. Holota served with the 77th Infantry Division and was killed in action on the Island of Guam on July 24, 1944. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, the Expert Infantry Badge, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and posthumously the Purple Heart.
Periodically, the heavily trafficked site requires a facelift. In 1969, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey moved the entrance to the Grove Street station on the triangular property. It added a twenty-five foot flagpole, fences, trees and other greenery to the park that was completed in 1970. The Port Authority participated with Jersey City in the rededication of the renovated park that was a gift to the city.
In 1996 the Van Vorst
Alliance, founded in 1992, renovated the park with support from a Green
Acres/Green Trust grant of $380,000. The
park again was renovated with the construction of Grove Pointe, a 29-story
apartment building, near the Grove Street PATH Station on Newark Avenue,
completed in 2007.
| By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub