I’ve been wanting to do another shrine project for quite some time (the original was Kilmer Shrines). I’ve made a few attempts recently, which were interesting in themselves, but they weren’t quite right. The Gowanus Shrines would have been amazing, especially since you’d visit them via rowboat. But I couldn’t compel myself to make the one hour commute regularly, especially after the hurricane washed them away. Shrines need to be close to home so you can visit often. Creek & Valley Shrines was a short-term project, so, there too, I couldn’t really develop a deep relationship with the place and the shrines.
So this summer I’m hoping to develop a network of shrines in Jersey City. The Journal Square area, where I live, is full of junkspace. I can see junkspace on Google Maps and from my roof … any tiny patch of woods that isn’t a park, or a deserted lot … I just have to figure out how to get to them on foot. Today I started to try to do that.
My goal for today was to reach the green tree-filled areas to the west of JFK Blvd. I walked north on JFK trying each dead end. Right before Elm Street, there is a weed-filled meadow, completely blocked off by fences. It looked like the elevation dropped at the end of the meadow, and there was orange construction mesh there. Looks promising.
But I couldn’t get in; the only part of the fence low enough to climb over comfortably, at the end of Elm, has barbed wire all over it. So I tried the next street north (Floyd). There, there was an open gate, but the area inside is chock-full of weeds taller than me. Not the sort of thing you can push your way through.
So I proceeded to the next street: Spruce. I walked down the sloping hill of the street, passing front-yard shrines to the Virgin Mary and a weird fake palm tree flanked by cherubs.
At the end of Spruce, I turned right onto Liberty. Liberty, aptly named, gave me entrance to the wooded area I was looking for. There was a large fence, but with a hole in it that I was able to squeeze through.
This is what I found there:
Cement was poured all over the side of this hill (below). It’s like a cement mountain with terraces. It’s easy to climb on and explore. This will definitely be site for a future shrine. There are, miraculously, two trees growing on it as well as several small plants.
This orange fencing is the same that I saw from Elm Street!
These cottony spores are all over the base of the trees. Looks like it’s probably cottonwood seeds, which the trees produce in large quantities 2 weeks per year.