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Communipaw Terminal

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Title: Communipaw Terminal  
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Subject: Ellis Island, Jersey City, New Jersey, Liberty Island, Newark Bay, Upper New York Bay, Liberty State Park, Port Authority Bus Terminal, Ironbound, Reading Company, Hoboken Terminal
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Communipaw Terminal

Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal
CRRNJ Terminal at Liberty State Park showing ferry slips serving boats to Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis Island and Liberty Island (2013)
Location Liberty State Park

Coordinates: 40°42′30″N 74°2′39″W / 40.70833°N 74.04417°W / 40.70833; -74.04417

Area 63 acres (25 ha)
Built 1889
Architect William H. Peddle, Peabody & Stearns
Architectural style Richardsonian Romanesque
Governing body State
NRHP Reference #


 # 1513[2]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP September 12, 1975
Designated  August 27, 1975

Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal, sometimes known as Communipaw Terminal was the Central Railroad of New Jersey's waterfront passenger terminal at the mouth of the Hudson River at the Upper New York Bay in Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey, United States.[3] It also served as the eastern terminus for trains on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Reading Railroad.


The terminal was built in 1889, replacing an earlier one that had been in use since 1864. It operated until April 30, 1967.[4] The station has been listed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places[5] and National Register of Historic Places since September 12, 1975.[6] Additionally it is a New Jersey State Historic Site.


Today the terminal is part of Liberty State Park, and along with nearby Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty recalls the era of massive immigration through the Port of New York and New Jersey. It is estimated that around 10.5 million entered the country through the station.[3][7] The area has long been known by as Communipaw, which in the Algonquian language Lenape means big landing place at the side of a river .[8] The first stop west of the station was indeed called Communipaw,[9] and was not far from the village that had been established there in 1634 as part of the New Netherland settlement of Pavonia. The land on which the extensive yards were built was reclaimed, or filled. The terminal itself is next to the Morris Canal Big Basin, which to some degree was made obsolete by the railroads which replaced it. The long cobbled road which ends at the terminal (once called Johnston Avenue for a president of CNJ) is Audrey Zapp Drive, for the environmentalist active in the creation of the park.


The main building is designed in a Richardsonian Romanesque style. The intermodal facility contains more than a dozen platforms and several ferry slips. Arriving passengers would walk to the railhead concourse and could either pass through its main waiting room, by-pass it on either side, and take stairs to the upper level. The ferry slips have also been restored though the structure which housed them has been removed, as have the tracks. The Bush-type trainsheds, the largest ever to be constructed and designed by A. Lincoln Bush, were not part of the original construction, but were built in 1914 and have not been restored.[11]



The terminal, along with its docks and yards, was one of several massive complexes that dominated the western waterfront of the New York Harbor from the mid 19th to the mid 20th century. Of the two still standing, the Hoboken Terminal is the only one still in use. Lines from the station headed to the southwest. Arriving at the waterfront from the points required overcoming significant natural obstacles including crossing the Hackensack River and Meadows and Hudson Palisades, and in the case of New Jersey Central, traversing the Newark Bay. For its mainline, the railroad constructed the Newark Bay Bridge to Elizabeth. Its Newark branch cut through Bergen Hill and crossed two bridges at Kearny Point. Both rights-of-way in Hudson County are now used by the Hudson Bergen Light Rail, one terminating at West Side Avenue and the other at 8th Street Station in Bayonne.

Railroad lines

Jersey Central's Blue Comet offered elaborate service to Atlantic City. The railroad's suburban trains served passengers to west and south, including the Jersey Shore. (BENNY is term used by residents on the coast for daytrippers from Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark and New York)[dubious ]. CNJ's long-distance service into Pennsylvania ran to Harrisburg, Scranton, and Mauch Chunk.[12]

The Reading Company used the terminal for its Crusader and Wall Street trains. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O), whose Royal Blue was a premier passenger train to Washington, DC, also had trains to Chicago and St. Louis.[12]

In April 1967 the Aldene Plan dismantled or rerouted the system. The remaining passenger lines diverted to Hoboken Terminal.

The timetable for 27 September 1936 shows 132 weekday departures, including 25 to CNJ's Newark station,[13] 25 that ran south from Elizabethport[14] (two to Chrome and the rest to the NY&LB) and 19 Reading and B&O trains that turned southwest at Bound Brook Jct.[15] Three trains ran to Mauch Chunk and two to Harrisburg via Allentown; the other 58 trains terminated along the main line between West 8th St in Bayonne and Hampton.

Named passenger trains

Until April 1958 several long-distance trains originated at the station, and trains to Philadelphia lasted until 1967.

Operators Named trains Destination Year begun Year discontinued
Baltimore and Ohio Capitol Limited Chicago, Illinois via Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1923 1958*
Baltimore and Ohio Metropolitan Special St. Louis, Missouri via Washington, D.C. and Cincinnati, Ohio ca. 1920 1958*
Baltimore and Ohio National Limited St. Louis, Missouri via Washington, D.C. and Cincinnati, Ohio 1925 1958*
Baltimore and Ohio Royal Blue Washington, D.C. 1890 1958
Central Railroad of New Jersey Blue Comet Atlantic City, New Jersey 1929 1941
Reading Railroad with the Central Railroad of New Jersey Crusader Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1937 1967
Reading Railroad with the Central Railroad of New Jersey Harrisburg Special Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Reading Railroad with the Central Railroad of New Jersey Queen of the Valley Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 1967
Reading Railroad with the Central Railroad of New Jersey Wall Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Reading Railroad with the Central Railroad of New Jersey Williamsporter Williamsport, Pennsylvania
  • With the closing of Baltimore & Ohio passenger service north of Baltimore in 1958 the Royal Blue was abandoned and the Capital Limited, Metropolitan Special and National Limited were terminated east of Baltimore.

Ferries and Ships

The main ferry from the terminal crossed the river to Pier 39 at Liberty Street and West Street in Manhattan, with additional service to 23rd Street. The B&O's Royal Blue service crossed to Whitehall/South Street. Until the opening of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge there was also service to Brooklyn and Staten Island[16] Other boats, among them the SS Asbury Park and SS Sandy Hook, which travelled to the Raritan Bayshore.[17] In 1941, Railroad Magazine reported that the CRRNJ ferryboat fleet made 374 one-way crossings of the North River (Hudson River) each day. (Nov., p. 41)

Current uses

Following the Aldene Plan the terminal sat unused but maintained and guarded by the Central Railroad of New Jersey. During this time a portion of the movie Funny Girl was filmed at the terminal.[18] Following the closure of CNJ shops and engine facilities nearby in the early 1970s, the terminal sat abandoned. Ferries to the Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis Island, and Liberty Island depart daily.[19][20] Numerous fairs, concerts, and other sponsored events (among them the Central Jersey Heritage Festival[21] and the All Points West Music & Arts Festival) take place at the station and its grounds, which is a very popular place from which to view July 4th fireworks.

On September 11, 2001 its parking lot was the staging area for dozens of ambulances that were mobilized to transport victims of the attack. There are proposals to build a trolley line to the terminal building and other points in the park from the Liberty State Park Station[22] of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail, which is also served by NJT Bus 6[23]


See also



External links

  • Liberty Historic Railway
  • Ellis/Liberty Island Ferry map
  • Wikipmapia: Communipaw Terminal
  • Locomotives at NRRNJ Terminal
  • Timeline of Communipaw Cove
  • CRRNJ Bronx Terminal
  • Historic American Engineering Record (HAER)

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