From the street level near the Newport Mall, a pedestrian can look up and see what appears to be a bridge that simply stops in midair. The structure is found near the corner of Sixteenth Street and Marin Boulevard. But for those able to view it from above, it actually spans west all the way to Jersey Avenue.
From a fourth floor window of the nearby old Lackawanna Warehouse building (now known as the Hudson Industrial Center) near the Jersey City/Hoboken border, one can see that the "bridge" actually contains remnants of elevated railroad tracks running alongside the Lackawanna Terminal Warehouse, which was constructed between 1929 and 1930.
It turns out that the tracks were built by The Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company to carry coal from Pennsylvania's coal-rich Lackawanna Valley east to Hoboken, N.J., west to Buffalo, N.Y., and north to Lake Ontario.
But why does it stop in midair at Marin Blvd.?
They call it 'The Canopy'
When asked about the structure last week, various people who work in businesses located at the Lackawanna Warehouse building were eager to comment. A person who works on the eighth floor commented said that it is known as "The Canopy" and that is just part of the building. Another person who has a printing business on the fourth floor was more forthcoming, saying he was told by older employees how trains would stop in front of the building to unload materials back in the warehouse's heyday.
A booklet created in April 1930 when the warehouse had just opened, currently available in the New Jersey room of the Jersey City library, described how "the warehouse tracks accommodating 52 cars....provide for direct handling of rail shipments both into and out of the warehouse without cartage charge."
The tracks were built on the second floor level on the Sixteenth Street side of the building, with loading platforms from the tracks and below the tracks.
Leon Yost, a Jersey City resident and longtime photographer, was involved in putting together the 2006 calendar for the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy that dealt with Jersey City's transportation history. At one time, at least nine rail lines including Delaware, Lackawanna and Western, terminated within Jersey City.
"Most of the railroads that came into Jersey City usually came out of the pair of tunnels at the western end of 18th Street behind the Hoboken Motorcycle Club," said Yost.
What happened to the tracks?
Yost said the tracks that continued from Marin Boulevard (also known as Henderson Street) going north to Hoboken were torn down in the 1960s when the railroads went into their decline, and after the Erie Railroad and Lackawanna Railroads merged.
John Gomez, founder of the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy, said he is impressed whenever he sees the "bridge," or train trestle next to the Lackawanna Warehouse.
"It looks in pretty good condition now, and you see how modern it is, because that's how it was built back in 1930," said Gomez. He added that he believed it was built for trucks to drive on top of, also.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org