Completed in 1910 and unused since 1959, the Bergen Arches is the common name for the Erie railroad’s mile-long, four track cut through the Palisades in Jersey City. It linked the railroad’s main line to the Hudson River waterfront and eventually Manhattan for its 30,000 daily passengers. Since the last train in 1959, the Bergen Arches has become overgrown, overlooked and almost completely forgotten.
A series of paths explore the Erie cut, sixty feet below the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With the focus on preservation and adaptive reuse, the team proposes architectural and landscape based interventions to create a new public park and walkway, promote local artists, and boost Jersey City’s overall cultural reputation. Through an elevated system of ramps and walkways that meander through the canopies, sculpture gardens, murals and more, so + so’s design hopes to expose decades of preserved graffiti and site-specific art, providing a contemporary perspective on a forgotten landscape.
The studio’s proposal aims to combat an ‘urban sense of placelessness’ by excavating the rich history of the area through a series of project phases. The Bergen Arch renovation intends to help Jersey compete culturally on the global stage by engaging the general public, continuing the conversation about urban land conservation, and aiding in the reactivation of Jersey City’s backyard.
Images 1-4: Artist impressions of proposed site design. Image 5: Historical view of Eire Cut/Bergen Arches.