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Lincoln Park
Westside Avenue between Communipaw and Duncan Avenues
Main Entrance at Kennedy Boulevard and Belmont Avenue

West Bergen

Statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Belmont Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard entrance to Lincoln Park
Photo: P. Shalhoub, 2001
View of the shelter pavilion at Lincoln Park
Photo: P. Shalhoub, 2001
Summer House in Hudson County (now Lincoln) Park Courtesy, Jersey City Free Public Library

Jersey City's largest and most elaborately designed park is Lincoln Park at Kennedy Boulevard and Belmont Avenue. It was originally called West Side Park until 1930 and was designed by landscape architects Daniel W. Langton and Charles N. Lowrie in 1905. The name of the park was changed when the Lincoln Memorial was installed at the main entrance.

The seated Lincoln mounted on a pedestal, known as "Lincoln the Mystic" or "The Statesman," was designed by sculptor James Earle Fraser. It is an example of heroic sculpture of Lincoln that appeared in the 1920s and 1930s. The statue was commissioned by the Jersey City Lincoln Association on the organization's sixty-fifth anniversary in 1930.

Open fields near the lake in Lincoln Park
Photo: P. Shalhoub, 2001

The park has approximately 273 acres and is maintained by the Hudson County Parks Commission, was begun in 1903, to establish a system of county parks. A national parks movement at the turn of the twentieth century influenced the initiative. Its purpose was to revitalize industrialized communities and to provide them with public space for recreational activities. The architects Langton and Lowrie were active in the "City Beautiful" movement of architecture in the United States and founding members of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Lowrie succeeded Langton as Landscape Architect for the Hudson County Park Commission for thirty years and designed several parks including the Stephen R. Gregg Hudson County Park in Bayonne.

Postcard of Lower West Side Ave.
Courtesy: Jersey City Free Public Library

Most of the Lincoln Park's acreage consisted of the marshy and undeveloped woodlands called Glendale Woods; it was along the city's western edge on the shore of the Hackensack River. Additionally some existing houses and properties had to be purchased by the Commission. Jersey City resident Florence Pond Graham, author of Jersey City: As I Remember It, recalls preparations for the construction of the park. She remembers that homes on lower Belmont Avenue were demolished or removed, "but some four story flats were bought and the new owner had them moved to the northeast corner of the Boulevard and Communipaw Avenue" (Graham 19). The apartments were later razed. According to Graham, the city's first baseball club was located at Belmont and West Side Avenue, and the baseball diamond was at the location of the park's ornamental fountain (16).

View of the fountain at Lincoln Park
Photo: P. Shalhoub, 2001

Lincoln Park is divided into Lincoln Park East and Lincoln Park West. The entrance to Lincoln Park East is on Kennedy Boulevard and extends to Truck Route 1&9 and lies between Communipaw and Duncan avenues. Beyond the entrance and Lincoln Memorial are two shelter pavilions that flank a promenade leading to a fountain at the park's traffic circle. Designed by the sculptor Pierre J. Cheron, the century-old fountain is 53 feet high and 108 feet in diameter. Completed in 1911, it is decorated with water-spouting frogs, allegorical figures, and surrounded by planters. It was restored by the county and rededicated on July 10, 1990.

A path on either side of the fountain takes one around the interior of the park's perimeter. Within the park's eastern section are areas for passive and active recreation. There are walking paths and picnic areas as well as athletic facilities for tennis, basketball, soccer and running. The tennis courts at the southwest end of the park date back to approximately 1909.

View of the lake at Lincoln Park
Photo: P. Shalhoub, 2001

A tennis clubhouse, overlooking the lake, called The Lodge was built in the 1930s. Due to its distance from the tennis courts, the clubhouse failed to be used as intended. At one time the structure was used as the Summer Museum of the Jersey City Free Public Library. It was later leased to Ray Dillman who began the Casino-in-the-Park as a restaurant.

Lincoln Park West runs along Truck Route 1&9 and adjoins the old Plank Road and the former swampland back to the Hackensack River. It lies between Communipaw Avenue/Truck Routes 1-9 and Duncan Avenue. This section of the park includes St. Peter's University athletic field, a baseball complex, commercial driving range, batting cages, a tidal pond and wetlands.

References:

Graham, Florence Pond. Jersey City: As I Remember It. Jersey City, NJ: Owl Printing Co., Inc., 1964.
"New Lincoln Monument Is Unveiled Today." Jersey Journal 14 June 1930.

By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub