Why Restore the CRR of New Jersey Train Shed at Liberty State Park? Because it is vital to the Park!

by Bill McKelvey

The Train Shed at Liberty State Park is an integral part of the historic Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal structure and is vital to the interpretation of the Terminal which has been restored to its 1889 splendor. Hundreds of trains per day departed or terminated under the Train Shed which provided cover and protected passengers from inclement weather through all seasons. It was used by hundreds of millions of commuters and interstate travelers as well as many millions of immigrants beginning their westward journeys to their new homes in America. The Train Shed, which covered 20 tracks, is just as important as the adjacent waiting room, main concourse, and former railroad offices on the upper floors. It is the largest and one of the last great train sheds remaining in America and is on the New Jersey & National Registers of Historic Places.

This Train Shed restoration iniative was begun as refinements of the conclusions of a two-year Rail Access Feasibility Study for Liberty State Park by Rutgers University Bloustein School of Planning. The study analyzed various transport modes and other parks with transit service. It clearly developed the need for a trolley shuttle service between the Hudson Bergen Light Rail line / Liberty Science Center and the Central Railroad of NJ Ferry Terminal as well as a rail shuttle from the Terminal to the south end of the Park. The focus of the study was to handle a growing number of visitors to the park by moving people in-to, out-of and around the Park in lieu of expanding parking and roadways to move more motor vehicles.

Refinements to the study demonstrated the need to terminate the rail shuttle services as close as possible to the Terminal and Ferry docks. This could only be efficiently accomplished with the restoration of the deteriorated and fenced-off Train Shed. In fact, the highest and best use of the Train Shed, with the greatest public benefit would be to restore it to its original function as the eastern terminus of the Park rail shuttles. We solicit your support for this restoration effort and our goals at Liberty State Park. We welcome your donations to Liberty Historic Railway and will list you on our website. We were established to meet the requirements of an IRS non-profit, public benefit corporation in the state of NJ. Donors will have their names listed on this website, unless you wish to remain anonymous, and receive letters of acknowledgment for tax deduction purposes for donations of $500 and above. Please forward your checks or money orders to;

Bill McKelvey, Chairman, Liberty Historic Railway, Inc., 
103 Dogwood Lane, 
Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922

Thank You!

  1. Since Liberty State Park was formerly a commuter rail Terminal, future use as a Park rail shuttle Terminal and rail display location would be most appropriate, advantageous and in keeping with the historic use of the structure.
  2. The size and scale of the Central Railroad of New Jersey (CRR of NJ) Train Shed gives visitors a sense of the amount of traffic that passed through the Terminal in its heyday.
  3. The historic CRR of NJ Train Shed and Terminal was a grand setting for much of New Jersey's transportation history.
  4. Large numbers of daily commuters and long distance travelers used the facility in the past.
  5. The Train Shed is an integral part of the interpretive history of Liberty State Park.
  6. The restoration of the Train Shed could provide a weather and security-protected shelter for display of appropriate rail equipment (CRR of NJ, Reading, Baltimore & Ohio, and Lehigh Valley Railroads), many fine examples of which are already in the collections of the United Railroad Historical Society of New Jersey.
  7. A vision for transportation within the Park with connections to New Jersey and New York mass transit is important for the future of the Park and the Train Shed. It is the best way to open the Park's resources to more people without the detrimental side-affects of automobile access.
  8. There is clearly a missing link between the Hudson Bergen Light Rail stop near the Liberty Science Center and the Train Shed / Head House / Ferry Dock complex. With a transportation connection here, New Jersey residents and tourists would have easy access to the Terminal / Train Shed and ferries for the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Manhattan; and residents and tourists from New York would have easier access to such tourism destinations such as Liberty Science Center...*
  9. The mission statement of Liberty State Park includes: "...provide public access to New York Harbor, provide an appreciation and understanding of its estuarine ecosystem, related transportation, and immigration history, and provide the opportunity to enjoy outdoor recreation activities." The Train Shed provides an excellent opportunity to implement and further these goals. At present the Park is weak in providing an appreciation and under-standing of the transportation and immigration history of the Park. The Train Shed's original use and history is an obvious way to remedy this.*
  10. The adaptive reuse of the Train Shed for rail equipment display and rail transfer point would be most appropriate for this former passenger rail Terminal. The importance of the intermodal nature of the Train Shed should be kept in mind in developing re-use plans.*
  11. The NJ State Historic Preservation Office favors the restoration and transportation related reuse of the Train Shed.
  12. The Friends of Liberty State Park and many other stakeholders support the restoration of the Train Shed.
  13. Use of the presently off-limits area under the Train Shed as a Park rail shuttle terminal will eliminate the need to occupy other Park land near the Train Shed for this purpose.
  14. The CRR of NJ Jersey City Terminal Train Shed, designed by Abraham Lincoln Bush, was the largest of its type ever built.*
  15. The CRR of NJ, Jersey City Terminal complex is significant as an early intermodal transportation center as clearly described in the National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form.*
  16. The proposed future use of the Train Shed for the display rail equipment which was common to the area and as a Terminal for the Park rail shuttle service plus other public uses may help facilitate the long-overdue restoration of the Train Shed.
  17. The Train Shed is an eyesore problem with safety concerns which must eventually be addressed and the longer action is procrastinated the worse the problem will get.
  18. The 7.5 acre roof area of the restored Train Shed could support enough solar panels to provide most, if not all of the energy needs of Liberty State Park, thus making the "People's Park" an outstanding "Green," clean, and renewable energy-using operation. This would be a profound achievement and example for the New Jersey State Parks System and Liberty State Park.
  19. Renewable and solar energy is being emphasized by both government and power utilities it would be most appropriate and timely for the State Parks Department to implement this money saving and carbon emissions reduction technology for Liberty State Park.
  20. The Train Shed could provide the highly desirable weather-protected area in which to load and unload rail vehicle passengers utilizing the proposed Liberty State Park trolley and rail shuttles. The present arrangement requires visitors to walk, exposed to the weather, up to 1,000 feet and more to get from parking lots to the Ferry Terminal.
  21. The 2000 Train Shed Historic Preservation Master Plan by Curtis and Ginsberg has been completed. This was an important first step in the process of restoration.
  22. Stabilization of the Train Shed would cost not much more than demolition it is the recommended action. The stabilized structure would allow for safe access to the Train Shed area by the public*
  23. Programming / Ideas for the Train Shed could include: Use of historic rail cars such as dining cars and lounge cars for interpretive experiences; Use of rail cars for exhibit venues, snack bar, gift shop, a small audio-visual theater, and / or public information; An exhibit on Railroad Terminals of the New Jersey - New York Harbor area; Use as a circulation corridor between the pay parking lot and the Ferry Terminal; Use as a Terminal for the in-Park rail transportation circulator; Use for exhibits related to the nearby Morris Canal; Ferry development in the New Jersey - New York Harbor area; The railroads which used the Jersey City Terminal; Transportation technology and safety; and, Use of appropriate historic rail equipment for vintage ride experiences within the Park.*
  24. There is a great need for public transportation in the Park and this need will only grow in the future. The Train Shed is a natural place to terminate such a service since it would connect the Ferry service to other Park amenities (such as the Childrens Playground; Grove of Remembrance; Picnic Areas; Nature Interpretive Center; Public Boat Launch area; US Flag Plaza; Liberation Monument; the Richard J. Sullivan Natural Area; Fishing Areas; etc.) and would continue the original historic intermodal purpose of the Shed.*
  25. The Train Shed has the potential to create a memorable, enjoyable, public place that contributes to the exceptional collection of New Jersey / New York Harbor sites and monuments.*
  26. The true tourism and economic impact potential, both locally and regionally, at Liberty State Park will only be realized upon the complete restoration of the CRR of NJ Terminal and the Train Shed.
  27. If nothing is done to stabilize the Train Shed the continued deterioration will eventually result in collapse or will leave no alternative but to destroy the entire structure.
  28. The NJ Division of Parks considers the Central RR of NJ Terminal and Train Shed, standing along with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Station "The Historic Trilogy," marking an important era in American history.
  29. Commuter auto parking within the Park should be discouraged and the trolley shuttle could be utilized to move people from the light rail and perimeter parking, very near the Ferry dock by terminating under the restored Train Shed. In fact, the latter arrangement would give rail shuttle passengers an advantage over those arriving by automobile in that it would reduce the distance they would have to walk to transfer from one transport mode to the other.
  30. The guidelines for Transportation Enhancements Program (TEP) Eligibility Principle state that "an historic preservation project must demonstrate a relationship to surface transportation and result in the historic preservation of a site, building, structure or significant element of a historic district consistent with the Secretary of Interior's Standards for Preservation Projects." The Train Shed eminently qualifies for the above.
  31. The Train Shed preservation meets the two requirements for TEP funding: 1. It had a significant transportation-related function in the past and 2. It will serve a transportation function after the project is completed.
  32. The Train Shed can be "restored" by returning the property to a condition that makes a contemporary use possible while preserving the significant historic features of the property.
  33. The proposed Train Shed restoration work could be performed so as not to jeopardize the eligibility of the facility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
  34. The Train Shed restoration would meet the TEP funding requirement that the project "must be for a building, structure or facility historically used for a surface transportation purpose or function and must provide for public access and use."
  35. The Train Shed restoration would include reconstruction and track replacement needed to accommodate strictly non-commercial uses.
  36. The restored Train Shed, per TEP requirements, would benefit the public interest and would grant access and use to the general public and be targeted to a broad segment of the general public. No fees would be charged to enter the structure. A nominal fare would probably have be charged, to cover operating expenses, to ride the rail shuttle vehicles operating to and from the Train Shed.
  37. The CRR of NJ Terminal and Train Shed is a metaphor for the wide distribution of the great wave of nineteenth century European immigrants that formed the blue-collar foundation on which America's industrial affluence is based. Barry Howard
  38. It was the local and regional rail systems, such as the Central RR of NJ, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the Reading Railroad, and the Lehigh Valley Railroad departing from the Jersey City Terminal / Train Shed that conveyed these new Americans to the small towns and rural byways of western New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and elsewhere. There they established new lives and contributed their unique heritages to the cultural diversity of a young nation that was and remains the basis of the American dream. Barry Howard
  39. In this time of an even greater wave of immigration, perhaps more subtle and longer lasting than the first, radically altering deeply rooted national political and social agendas, it is critical that we optimize historical icons like the CRR of NJ Terminal and Train Shed and the New Jersey side of Ellis Island to illustrate, explain and lend perspective to the multi-cultural fabric of the American experience. Barry Howard
  40. As global issues become increasingly complex and polarization of thought challenges the very foundations of our formative beliefs, we must strive to reinvigorate the principles of liberty, industry and compassion implicit in the acculturation that permeated the early years of the American century, and by which Americans have long been defined. Barry Howard
  41. The Train Shed restoration work would be an economic stimulus and creator of many jobs for the local Jersey City and Hudson County area.
  42. Restoration of the Train Shed and its use as a Terminal for inter-park rail shuttles would aid the objective of moving people, not motor vehicles in, out, and around the Park.
  43. The Train Shed is an integral part of the Terminal building, which is considered crown jewel in the New Jersey State Parks System.
  44. We are losing historic landmarks on a daily basis in our state.
  45. Americans love to visit historic sites.
  46. Historic places are an essential part of our lives.
  47. We don't want the Train Shed, an important part of the vibrant past of New Jersey and America to vanish.
  48. The restoration of the Train Shed will produce the greatest good for the greatest number of visitors to the CRR of NJ Terminal.
  49. Restoration of the Train Shed would necessarily be preceded by a required environmental cleanup to remove contaminants (asbestos in roofing materials) from the site.
  50. While the Terminal is already performing intermodal functions between ferrys, the NJ Transit Route 305 Park shuttle bus (to be eliminated by NJT due to budget constraints), charter buses, and autos, the Train Shed, when restored, will become an outstanding example of intermodalism with the addition of the Liberty Historic Railway and the Liberty Electric Railway under the Train Shed.
  51. With 35 to 40% of electric power lost through long distance transmission lines en-route to New Jersey consumers, the solar energy produced on the Train Shed roof would avoid this loss as it would be consumed locally.
  52. Appropriate historic rail equipment (CRR of NJ, Reading Railroad, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and Lehigh Valley Railroad) which used the Train Shed and the Jersey City Terminal area is available for display from the collections of the United Railroad Historical Society of New Jersey.
  53. New Jersey's unique cultural, historical, and tourism assets (including Liberty State Park, the Central Railroad of NJ Terminal and Train Shed) are a significant part of the solution for the current economic crisis.
  54. New Jersey is home to one of America's greatest transportation hubs and the CRR of NJ Jersey City Terminal was an integral part of it.
  55. The Central RR of NJ Terminal is an important tourist destination. Tourism is NJ's third largest industry sector, generating $38 billion. One out of every nine NJ workers has a job in tourism, with nearly 500,000 workers accounting for 11.4% of total employment and $16 billion in wages and salaries. For every one dollar tourists spend in NJ, seventy-two cents is retained in the state. NJ Travel and Tourism Global Insight 2008 Tourism Economic Impact Study
  56. "The smell of death suffuses the closed Jersey City Terminal (Train Shed) of the Jersey Central, whence vanished ferries carried passengers on to New York." Caption for a full page photo of the CRR of NJ Jersey City Train Shed in American Heritage History of Railroads in America, by Oliver Jensen.
  57. Trains served a tremendously important practical purpose in the CRR of NJ terminal's heyday. Governor Thomas H. Kean
  58. Trains from this Terminal connected with distant points in the United States, including Albuquerque, Birmingham, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Memphis, New Orleans, St. Louis, and San Francisco, as well as Toronto, Canada.
  59. Trains from this terminal connected with distant points in New Jersey, including Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Cape May, Dover, Flemington, Lakewood, Ocean City, Phillipsburg, Point Pleasant, Toms River, West Trenton, Wildwood, etc.
  60. With the addition of the Baltimore & Ohio and Reading Railroads (as well as the Lehigh Valley Railroad) this Terminal became the Newark (Liberty) International Airport of its day. Governor Thomas H. Kean
  61. The CRR of NJ Terminal was the historic setting for the filming of several movies, including, Funny Girl, with Barbara Streisand and Omar Sharif; From the Terrace, with Joanne Woodward and Myrna Loy; The Squeeze with Michael Keaton, and The Big Little Railroad by the Central Railroad of New Jersey.
  62. This Terminal was the departure point for thousands of special excursions to distant points such as Sandy Hook, Lake Hopatcong, Bellewood Park (Pattenburg), Andover & Green Pond Jct., NJ; the Mauch Chunk Switch Back Railroad, West Milton, Pen Argyl, Tamaqua, Palmerton, and Reading, PA; Harper's Ferry and Roanoke, VA; and it was the destination of the first chartered trip of any streamlined train, The Crusader, from Reading, PA in 1938.
  63. The Train Shed is a critical component of the restored 1889 CNJ Terminal building and is part of the Historic Trilogy of Liberty State Park, which includes Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island.
  64. The Train Shed requires immediate stabilization, followed by a full-scale restoration.
  65. The Train Shed restoration would produce the greatest good for the greatest number in the long run.
  66. Liberty State Park has more visitors than any other Park in New Jersey.
  67. Restoration of the CRR of NJ Train Shed at Liberty State Park is the right thing to do!