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Little Essex Street

Personal Calibration

2001: 52 Sundays

The Crosses of the
Northern Neck

The Wild Dogs of
Jersey City


Little Essex Street

Essex Street may be the oldest street in New Jersey. It defines the southern border of the Paulus Hook neighborhood of Jersey City. Beyond it lays the remnant of the Morris Canal and the mouth of the Hudson. It used to be only three blocks long, tucked between the Colgate factory and the Onyx chemical plant. There was a railroad track running down the street and a little train would pull tanks of tallow, and God knows what else, up and down the street. Looking out your window it would seem to be snowing, only it was July and it was Irish Spring suds coming down. There was a bar on every corner. These were swing shift bars—the factory ran 24 hours and the bars would be packed at eight in the morning. There was one on the corner of Essex and Greene. As I walked to Exchange Place to take the train under the river, the patrons would emerge from the bar and pause to gaze east at the view before trudging home. Both the bar and the view are long gone.

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