Liberty State Park

Coordinates: 40°42′15″N 74°02′57″W / 40.70417°N 74.04917°W / 40.70417; -74.04917
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Liberty State Park
Liberty State Park as seen at the mouth of the Hudson River in September 2012
TypeUrban park
LocationJersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
Coordinates40°42′15″N 74°02′57″W / 40.70417°N 74.04917°W / 40.70417; -74.04917
Area1,212 acres (4.90 km2)
Operated byNew Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry
OpenJune 14, 1976
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata

Liberty State Park (LSP) is a park in the U.S. state of New Jersey, located on Upper New York Bay in Jersey City opposite Liberty Island and Ellis Island. The park opened in 1976 to coincide with bicentennial celebrations[1] and is operated and maintained by the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry. Liberty State Park covers 1,212 acres (490 ha).

The main part of the park is bordered by water on three sides: on the north by the Morris Canal Big Basin and on the south and east by Upper New York Bay. The New Jersey Turnpike Newark Bay Extension, which is part of I-78, marks its western perimeter.


The high rise buildings of the Jersey City skyline as seen from Liberty State Park

Communipaw Cove is part of the 36-acre (15 ha) state nature preserve in the park and is one of the few remaining tidal salt marshes along the Hudson River estuary. The Interpretive Center, designed by architect Michael Graves, is part of the preserve. To the west lies the Interior Natural Area, which is off limits to the public and is being allowed through natural processes to recover from environmental abuse.[2]

At the center of the park, 240 acres have been fenced off and contaminated with hazardous materials, such as chromium, arsenic, and petroleum. The six acre train shed is also fenced off and contaminated with asbestos.[3]


Before opening in June 1976, Liberty State Park was the site of abandoned rail facilities built on landfills.

Much of the park is situated on landfilled tidal flats.[4] In the latter half of 19th century, a small island named Black Tom was joined via landfill with the mainland.[5] It became a major shipping, manufacturing, and transportation hub within Port of New York and New Jersey, leading to the construction of Communipaw Terminal. It was from this ferry/train station that many immigrants arriving at Ellis Island spread out across the US. In 1916, on what is now the southeastern corner of the park, the Black Tom explosion killed as many as seven people, caused $20 million in property damage, and was felt throughout the Tri-State Region.[citation needed]

The park was conceived in the 1960s.[6] with the land transferred from the city to the state in 1965.[7] Audrey Zapp, Theodore Conrad, Morris Pesin[8][9] and J. Owen Grundy were influential environmentalists and historians who spearheaded the movement that led to the creation of Liberty State Park.[10] They are remembered by the naming of places and streets along the waterfront.[11]

It is estimated the park suffered $20 million in damages during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. In June 2016, the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal reopened after a $20 million renovation to repair the extensive damage caused by Sandy.[12] The Nature Interpretive Center reopened in June 2021.[13][14]

On January 11, 2018, it was announced by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) that the interior 240 acres (97.1 ha) of the park that have been closed off to the public for decades due to hazardous material and severely contaminated land would be remediated for the entire community to safely enjoy. The restoration is to be done in phases with the initial phase focusing on a 23 acres (9.3 ha) parcel of the interior. There is currently no timeline yet for the remediation but the funding is to come from natural resource damage settlements.[15] Work would begin in 2021 but unfortunately that has never happened and the land sits fenced off and contaminated to this day.[16]

Points of interest[edit]

Ellis Island and the railyards and piers of Central Railroad of New Jersey before development of the park and associated restoration projects

Freedom Way and Liberty Walkway[edit]

Liberty Walkway, a crescent-shaped promenade, stretches from the CRRNJ Terminal along the waterfront south to the Statue of Liberty overlook, bridging two coves along the way. It is part of the longer Hudson River Waterfront Walkway. Halfway along Liberty Walkway is a bridge to Ellis Island, but only authorized vehicles are allowed. The southeastern corner of the park contains the Statue of Liberty overlook, picnic facilities, a playground, the U.S. Flag Plaza and Liberation Monument, the Public Administration Building, and a memorial to the Black Tom explosions. Picnicking and barbecuing facilities are also located at the southern end of the park. Originally called "Liberty Walk",[17][18][19] this part of the project won a landscape award in 1995.[20]

Liberty Science Center[edit]

Liberty Science Center, which lies in the western portion of the park, is an interactive science museum and learning center. The center opened in 1993 as New Jersey's first major state science museum. It has science exhibits, the world's 5th largest IMAX Dome theater, the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere, numerous educational resources, and the original Hoberman sphere, a silver, computer-driven engineering artwork designed by Chuck Hoberman.[21]

Monuments and memorials[edit]

Empty Sky, a memorial with a remnant from the World Trade Center in the foreground

Liberation is a 1985 bronze sculpture designed by Nathan Rapoport as a memorial to the Holocaust, showing a U.S. soldier carrying out a survivor from a Nazi death camp.[22]

La Vela di Colombo is a two-story sail-shaped bronze monument designed by Gino Gianetti that commemorates the 500th anniversary of the westward journey of Christopher Columbus to America in 1492. The "Sail of Columbus" sits atop a stone base in the shape of a ship and features scenes of Columbus and his travels. The gift from Government of Italy and the City of Genoa was dedicated in 1998.[23]

Empty Sky is the official state memorial to the September 11 attacks of the World Trade Center. Situated on a berm the parallel walls engraved with the names of victims are oriented to face the former World Trade Center site. Designed by architect Frederic Schwartz, it was dedicated on September 10, 2011, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the attacks.[24]

A temporary monument designed by Zaq Landsberg called Reclining Liberty will be on display adjacent to Empty Sky until April 2023. The monument, which shows the Statue of Liberty lying on her side, was previously on display in Harlem's Marcus Garvey Park where it received attention from Time Out and Gothamist. It was inspired by reclining Buddha statues in Asia as its intended meaning is to reconsider the meaning of the United States which, like the Statue of Liberty, is as Landsberg describes "an entity forever upright and tall".

Liberty State Park Conservation, Recreation, and Community Inclusion Act[edit]

A common tern seen from the park with Manhattan in the background

The administration of Governor Chris Christie proposed various commercial activities for the park.[25] In 2017, it suggested leasing large parts of the waterfront for private marinas.[26]

Caven Point is a 22-acre man-made piece of land and sits adjacent to the Liberty National Golf Course. It is the only sandy beach along the shoreline and home to various migratory birds.[27] Proposals to protect the land have been made in the New Jersey Legislature such as the Liberty State Park Protection Act[28] to specifically protect the park from all development without a severe vetting process and public scrutiny.[29][30][31] That proposal has been rejected by both the senate and the assembly for its exclusion of the surrounding community.[32] The Liberty State Park Conservation, Recreation, and Community Inclusion Act was passed in July 2022 with and as a result the community which had been intentionally left out of the conversation for decades would now be a part of the decision making within this park.[33][34] “ The Liberty State Park Conservation, Recreation, and Community Inclusion Act establishes a 17-member Liberty State Park Design Task Force within the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to assist with developing short-term plans to improve public use at the park.

“For far too long, Liberty State Park has been neglected, and it is time we finally put in the work needed to establish it as the crown jewel of New Jersey’s park system,” said State Sen. Brian Stack (D-32), who served as a sponsor of the bill in the Senate.”

Task Force

Additionally, the Task Force would develop a long-term master plan to improve park facilities and amenities, create new transportation and mobility services, and further preserve the park’s natural resources.”


The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail runs just west of the park with a station at its entrance.[35][36]

In July 2012, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority allotted $175,000 to study transportation alternatives to and within the park.[37]

In March 2013, Jersey City received a $500,000 grant to study the extension of Jersey Avenue directly into the park, to simplify access from the Downtown neighborhoods, facilitate through traffic to and from Communipaw, and provide alternatives for turnpike users to access the downtown.[38][39] In May 2013, a new pedestrian-bike bridge was placed over Mill Creek at the small basin to replace an older one that had been destroyed by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. It is situated so as not interfere with any new road construction.[40][41]

In 2014 NJDOT announced that it would build a $10 million bridge over the Morris Canal Basin, reducing the commute between the park and Downtown Jersey City by more than half a mile.[39] Construction of the connection between Jersey Ave and Phillip Street began in August 2019; the two-lane road with adjoining bike lanes was opened to traffic in August 2021.[42][43] Since the opening, residents have complained about safety concerns and an increase in traffic congestion due to Holland Tunnel-bound traffic connecting to I-78 through the park. Prior to the bridge, the Mayor Steven Fulop announced the city administration is experimenting with traffic light timing and collaborating with navigation service Waze to reduce congestion.[44][45]

In popular culture[edit]

Liberty Harbor

On Labor Day in 1980, Republican Nominee for President Ronald Reagan kicked off his national campaign on Liberty Island, with the Statue of Liberty behind him and said: 'I want more than anything I've ever wanted, to have an administration that will, through its actions, at home and in the international arena, let millions of people know that Miss Liberty still "Lifts her lamp beside the golden door."'[46]

In 2002, Budweiser filmed two commercials to dedicate the September 11 attacks in the park (one in 2002, and another one in 2011). Both were only aired once.[47]

Festivals and performances[edit]

Film and television[edit]

  • In 1968, the film Funny Girl shot the "Don't Rain on My Parade" sequence in the Central Railroad of NJ Terminal.[55]
  • In 1971, the famous The Godfather (1972) scene containing Peter Clemenza and Rocco Lampone's famous exchange, "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli", was filmed at the site before the construction of Liberty State Park.[56]
  • In 1997, the film Men in Black depicts a scene where Agent J delivers a newborn alien squid on Morris Pesin Drive.[55]
  • The 30 Rock episode The Aftermath was filmed in Liberty Harbor.
  • The final scenes of the 2014 adaptation of Annie were shot at Liberty State Park.[57]
  • In the 2018 Netflix series Seven Seconds, the bicycle accident at the center of the plot of season 1 occurs at Liberty State Park.[58]


Since 2007, the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic is held every Spring at Liberty State Park.[59]

In May 2010, plans were put forth outlining the use of the park as the new home of the United States Formula One Grand Prix for the 2012 season.[60] These plans met outrage from the community, particularly the Friends of Liberty State Park, and were ultimately rejected by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.[61]

On June 19 and 20, 2010, the park hosted the fifth round of the 2010 Red Bull Air Race World Championship.[62]

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Liberty State Park - Jersey City, NJ - Norwalk Citizen-News". Archived from the original on July 9, 2012. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
  2. ^ "Nature Untamed: Liberty State Park's Interior Natural Area Continues its Comeback". November 12, 2010. Archived from the original on May 24, 2013. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  3. ^ Tully, Tracey (August 26, 2021). "He's Still Fighting Developers for the Park His Father Founded". The New York Times. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  4. ^ "Hudson-Raritan Estuary Comprehensive Restoration Plan – Potential Restoration Opportunities Project Summary Sheets" (PDF). Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  5. ^ "Liberty State Park: Black Tom Explosion". State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. January 26, 2005. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
  6. ^ Mohr, Charles (May 12, 1965). "Ellis Isle Made National Shrine" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2022.
  7. ^ "Jersey City Deeds Site For Liberty State Park" (PDF). The New York Times. August 18, 1965. p. 32.
  8. ^ "Morris Pesin's Legendary Canoe Trip Which Launched Liberty State Park Historical Marker". Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  9. ^ Coyne, Kevin (June 22, 2008). "A Quest That Brought Lady Liberty Closer". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "Jersey Journal FOLSP: Jersey Journal". Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  11. ^ Singer, Mark (June 14, 1976). "Bicentennial Beat". Retrieved December 8, 2017 – via
  12. ^ Villanova, Patrick (June 22, 2016). "Historic Liberty State Park train terminal reopens (Photos)". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  13. ^ Ragoza, Rafal (May 25, 2013). "Latest estimates on Liberty State Park recovery from Hurricane Sandy". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
  14. ^ Villanova, Patrick (October 2, 2015). "Senators want 'secret' DEP report, plan hearing on Liberty State Park's future". Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  15. ^ McDonald, Terrence T. (January 11, 2018). "N.J. to turn 240 acres of Liberty State Park into wildlife oasis". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  16. ^ Schmidt, Margaret (September 3, 2020). "Shovels in ground next summer for 234-acre cleanup in Liberty State Park?". nj. The Jersey Journal.
  17. ^ Landscape Architecture 1991 - Volume 81 Page 69 "The first phase of the park is the 1.5 miles (2.4 km) waterfront promenade, Liberty Walk. Construction on the promenade has already begun and will be completed in early 1991; "
  18. ^ Backroads of New Jersey 2007 Page 48 "Take Freedom Way south or walk the 2 miles (3.2 km) Liberty Walk Promenade through a thirty-six-acre natural area river marsh."
  19. ^ Setha Low, Dana Taplin, Suzanne Scheld Rethinking Urban Parks: Public Space and Cultural Diversity 2009 p. 83 "...Liberty State Park, includes grass-covered fields, a public boat launch, walkways along the waterfront, spacious parking lots, and ... The other connecting corridor is the 1.3 miles (2.1 km)-long Liberty Walk, a newly built promenade along the water's edge ..."
  20. ^ Landscape Architecture Magazine 1995 "Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) of Philadelphia and New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) were the co-winners of a Top Honor Award for the overall plan and an Honor Award for Liberty State Park and Liberty Walk "
  21. ^ "Liberty State Park". NJ Department of Parks and Forests. Liberty Science Center. Archived from the original on May 17, 2011.
  22. ^ "Art and Architecture of New Jersey". Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
  23. ^ "Liberty State Park". New Jersey City University. Archived from the original on June 2, 2019. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  24. ^ "NJ 911 Memorial page". Archived from the original on March 21, 2011. Retrieved February 20, 2011.
  25. ^ "1The Future of Liberty State Park:Creating a World Class Destination" (PDF). Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  26. ^ McDonald, Terrence T. (December 7, 2017). "Details emerge about new Liberty State Park marina". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  27. ^ Koosau, Mark (October 9, 2022). "Rallygoers call for protection of Caven Point at Liberty State Park". Hudson Reporter.
  28. ^ "A2189".
  29. ^ "Senate 3357".
  30. ^ "Assembly 4903".
  31. ^ Whitman, Christine Todd (December 7, 2021). "Ex-Gov. Whitman: Protect Liberty State Park so we all can enjoy this gem | Opinion". Nj.
  32. ^ Maher, Jake (June 16, 2022). "Bill advances that could allow privatization of Liberty State Park".
  33. ^ Koosau, Mark (June 24, 2022). "Controversial Liberty State Park bill advances through state committees". Hudson Reporter.
  34. ^ Koosau, Mark (June 30, 2022). "Gov. Phil Murphy signs bill to redevelop Liberty State Park". Hudson Reporter.
  35. ^ Kaulessar, Ricardo (September 6, 2009). "Trolley through Liberty State Park?". The Hudson Reporter. Bayonne. Archived from the original on March 12, 2022. Retrieved March 12, 2022.
  36. ^ Most, Doug (April 16, 2000). "At Last, A Trolley Runs Through It". The Record. Bergen County. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2022.
  37. ^ Cronk, Alyana (July 20, 2021). "Jersey City receives $175,000 state grant to study public-transportation options in Liberty State Park". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  38. ^ McDonald, Terrence T. (March 19, 2013). "Jersey City gets $500K federal grant to study extension of road into Liberty State Park". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  39. ^ a b McDonald, Terrence T. (August 22, 2014). "$10M bridge connecting Downtown Jersey City to Liberty State Park closer to reality". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
  40. ^ McDonald, Terrence T. (May 23, 2013). "Seven months after Sandy, a new $800K bridge in Jersey City". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  41. ^ "Mill Creek Footbridge". May 27, 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
  42. ^ Zeitlinger, Ron (August 7, 2019). "After decades of talk, road project connecting Downtown to Liberty State Park, Bergen-Laf is underway". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  43. ^ Adler, Egan (July 30, 2021). "Opening up a whole new avenue of access to Downtown Jersey City and Liberty State Park". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  44. ^ Steven Fulop [@StevenFulop] (October 5, 2021). "We are very much on top of it/aware. Last weekend we experimented with traffic light timing changes. When comparing data from Sunday, 9/26 (normal signal timing) + Sunday, 10/3 (modified timing), there were 845 fewer vehicles, which equals a 23% decrease" (Tweet). Retrieved October 9, 2021 – via Twitter.
  45. ^ Steven Fulop [@StevenFulop] (October 5, 2021). "Also we are working with Google maps + Waze - just wanted to let you know that we are optimistic that we will be able to get this right for everyone" (Tweet). Retrieved October 9, 2021 – via Twitter.
  46. ^ "9/1/1980 Speech". Archived from the original on March 8, 2015. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  47. ^ Staff, A. O. L. "The true story behind the 9/11 Budweiser commercial that only aired once". Archived from the original on October 22, 2020. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  48. ^ "Universal Music Group, the world's leading music company - Home Page - UMG". UMG. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  49. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (April 13, 2001). "Circus Review – Dancing Lion, Eerie Dragon in a Time Warp". The New York Times.
  50. ^ Sciarretto, Amy (July 4, 2013). "Selena Gomez Performs 'Come & Get It' + 'Slow Down' at Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular". PopCrush. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  51. ^ "Mariah Carey Live @ Macy's 4th of July concert on NBC". YouTube. September 28, 2013. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021.
  52. ^ Kuperinsky, Amy (January 16, 2014). "Super Bowl Kickoff Spectacular lands at Liberty State Park". Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  53. ^ Lustig, Jay (July 3, 2017). "Government shutdown forces Freedom Fireworks Festival, featuring Kool and the Gang, to move". Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  54. ^ Brooks, Hayden (September 12, 2021). "Alicia Keys Delivers Touching Tribute To New York City With VMA Performance". iHeartRadio. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  55. ^ a b Fry, Chris (July 12, 2017). "Liberty State Park: New Jersey's Gift to America". Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  56. ^ "The New York Filming Locations of The Godfather, Then and Now - Scouting NY - Page 2". January 26, 2014. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  57. ^ "Annie Film Locations". Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  58. ^ McDonald, Terrence T. (February 22, 2018). "Netflix drama explores racial unrest, police cover-up in Jersey City". Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  59. ^ McDonald, Corey W. (June 2, 2018). "Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic returns to Liberty State Park with star-studded guest list (PHOTOS)". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  60. ^ Collantine, Keith (May 4, 2010). "New York F1 track plans revealed – Jersey City bids for 2012 night race". F1 Fanatic. Keith Collantine. Archived from the original on July 9, 2010. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
  61. ^ "". Archived from the original on June 5, 2013. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  62. ^ Hayes, Melissa (June 4, 2010). "About the Red Bull Air Race in Jersey City". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved June 18, 2018.

External links[edit]