Remembering the days In this year's Jersey City calendar, September's different
by : Prescott Tolk Reporter staff writer
Nov 03, 2001 | 933 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The just-published "Jersey City Then and Now 2002 Calendar," which contains photographs by local photographer Leon Yost, is different from those published over the last five years. In the coming year's calendar, the month of September displays a photo of the New York skyline and World Trade Center, and on the actual date, it says, "8:48 a.m. attack on World Trade Center, 2001."

The calendar is published each year by the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation and displays both historic and recent photographs of Jersey City.

Leon Yost, a professional documentary photographer and Jersey City resident, began producing the calendar himself six years ago. As Jersey City continues to experience a rebirth in terms of development, population growth, and statewide importance, its historical structures leave traces of its longstanding history. Yost feels that these historical landmarks are ideal subjects to capture on film.

This is the second year that the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation has published the calendar. In return for creating the calendar, the EDC gives Yost a number of copies to sell for himself, which enable him to turn a profit. Originally, Yost made the calendars by hand, producing 100 copies each year by laminating each page, punching holes in them, and binding them together. He said he generally sells out of them each year, but previously lost money when producing the calendars by himself.

According to Yost, the EDC uses it to market Jersey City to prospective developers, businesses, and commercial retailers.

The EDC also provided a unique opportunity for Yost last year when it chartered a helicopter to fly him all over the city so he could take aerial photographs. "I shot 20 loads of film that morning," Yost remembers, recalling that it was an early spring morning and the sky was conveniently clear. "I had about 800 shots. There were so many that I couldn't use them all." While this past year's pictures entirely consisted of these aerial photographs, the upcoming 2002 calendar only has a few.

Exhibiting bright, colorful shots of Jersey City homes, municipal buildings, and points of interest, the calendar combines compelling photography with a hodgepodge of trivial tidbits about the city itself.

Each photograph is accompanied by a brief description that was researched and written by the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy, of which Yost is a member, or the Jersey City Historical Project. For the month of July, Yost features the Central Railroad Terminal at Liberty State Park, which he photographed from a ferry to capture the Hudson River in the image. In the margin on the side, a brief description describes the train station's function when it was erected in 1889. "One of the last of its kind in existence," the text reads, "the terminal served both daily commuters and newly arrived immigrants, many of whom remained in Jersey City and other parts of Hudson County."

In terms of history, the photograph of the Central Railroad Terminal interestingly contrasts with the aerial photograph of a PATH train leaving the Journal Square Transportation Center.

On the bottom of the calendar, small photographs - some taken by Yost and others just old photographs found in archives - create some type of theme. The month of April features Roosevelt Stadium, where the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Jersey City Giants played baseball. A photograph of Jackie Robinson also appears, who broke the "color line" of professional baseball for the first time at Roosevelt Stadium in 1946.

But September, the month that will be engraved in every American's mind next year as the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America, has the most memorable photograph. Featuring a glorious shot of the World Trade Center reflecting the sun, Yost allowed the graphic designer, Myron Rubenstein, to put a dissolved image of the American flag in the background. On the bottom of the page, an image appears of smoke billowing from one tower while the other one has already fallen, alongside some historic shots of the skyline before the towers were built.

Most commercial calendars have already been published and released by the summer, making Yost's inclusion of the Sept. 11 attacks a rarity amongst next year's calendars.

A picture of the towers was originally slotted for the month of December, but Yost asked the printer to make the change after the attacks occurred. Progress Printing, a Jersey-city based business, agreed to make the change without any hassle.

"I realized a year from now that that was going to be a totally inappropriate month," Yost said. "We created a memorial page. Before, it was one of the pages hyping the grand views of lower Manhattan from Jersey City."

Although he moved into a brick row house in the downtown area in 1974, Yost did not begin taking pictures of Jersey City until the 1980s.

"I didn't think of Jersey City as a subject," he said. "I realized that there are fabulous buildings in Jersey City. Now it's one of my best subjects."

Yost recalled his early interest in Jersey City being inspired by old buildings like the Brennan Courthouse, the Powerhouse, and City Hall.

The calendar costs $12.99 and can be ordered through Yost by calling him at 432-3272 or e-mailing him at Or, it can be bought at Books on Grove located at Grove and First Streets.

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