Trains and superhighways spring west from New York City, leaping or burrowing past the Hudson and Jersey City on their way to Newark Airport and the rest of the Garden State beyond. But first, a liminal space that streaks by the window half seen: marshes, lowslung warehouse complexes, brownfields, and the telltale humps of landfills.
Secaucus, Harrison, and nestled between, Kearny. The estuaries and turnpikes of Kearny are a world not intended for pedestrians or lingering attention. South, across the Passaic River, and on a rise to the west, there are neighborhoods, stores, sidewalks, but to the east, squeezed between river bends, the district is half-submerged and only intermittently scored by signs of industry or anything but the most transitory of human presence. Archaic train tracks tangled in tall grass end abruptly at permanently disconnected swing bridges. Superfund sites fall into tangled hinterlands. Old substations and high tension powerlines loom. It’s difficult to even get there on foot, with commercial roads twisting abruptly into cloverleafs and access trails dropping into deep, stagnant pools. Even in its more inhabited reaches, the area is studded with gaping emptied building frames, scuttled boats, and tucked nearly beneath a huge, cement-pillared highway overpass, the stately brickwork of a disused power station.