Jersey City has recently been called both “a suburb of New York City” and the “sixth borough.” Given its proximity to “The City,” it’s clear how these misnomers took root. Local artist DISTORT, with the support of the Jersey City’s Mural Arts Program and Green Villain have teamed up to set the record straight, by visually preserving the spirit and ingenuity that has always made Jersey City one of a kind.
Jersey City has long prided itself as the “Gateway to America.” But those who know this city know It’s more than a mere gateway, those who know Jersey City understand that it is a labyrinth. Antiquated railroads and secret tunnels cut through the city, telling the real story of its creation.
The cityscape depicted by DISTORT portrays overlaying passageways, both new and old. From an unusual angle, the viewer sees the Pulaski Skyway as it recedes into the distance with the historic Bergen Arches deep underneath. Far away atop a hill sits Jersey City Medical Center which, built under the reign of former mayor Frank Hague, is rumored to have a hidden tunnel that ends at City Hall. The viewer ultimately ends up eye level in the valley of the Bergen Arches. To the left, a passageway reconstructed from the iconic 9th Street Path Station illustrates the industrial geology unique only to Jersey City.
The mural blends these city icons with mythology. The mythology of the labyrinth is closely tied to the slaying of the half-bull half-man; Minotaur. While the myth itself has many possible interpretations, the modern iconography of the bull as a symbol of the financial markets, is significant in the context of the mural’s location and content. When completed, the mural will show the heroism of Jersey City’s residents in front of the city’s most important gateway.
The mural is located on the Mecca trucking company building which sits just outside of the Holland Tunnel. It is one of the largest murals in the area to date.