Pennsylvania Railroad's Jersey City Station, 1893
|Operated by||Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR)|
The Pennsylvania Railroad Station was the intermodal passenger terminal for the Pennsylvania Railroad's (PRR) vast holdings on the Hudson River and Upper New York Bay in Jersey City, New Jersey. By the 1920s the station was called Exchange Place in response to local nomenclature. The rail terminal and its ferry slips were the main New York City station for the railroad until the opening in 1910 of New York Pennsylvania Station, made possible by the construction of the North River Tunnels. The terminal was located on Paulus Hook, which in 1812 became the landing of the first steam ferry service in the world, and to which rail service began in 1834. Train service to the station ended in November 1961 and demolition of the building complex was completed in 1963. Part of the former terminal complex is now the PATH system's Exchange Place Station.
The station was one of five passenger railroad terminals that lined the western shore of the Hudson River during the 19th and 20th centuries, the others being Weehawken, Hoboken, Pavonia, and Communipaw, with Hoboken being the only station still in use. The PRR referred to the location simply as "Jersey City," and if necessary to distinguish it from other railroads' terminals, as the Pennsylvania station.
As early as July 1764 a ferry began operating from Paulus Hook to the foot of Courtland Street (where Cortland Street Ferry Depot would be built). The first steam ferry service in the world began between Paulus Hook and Manhattan in 1812, and the New Jersey Rail Road and Transportation Company opened a rail line from Newark to Paulus Hook, then part of the newly incorporated City of Jersey, in 1834. The PRR acquired the railroad in 1871 and replaced the terminal in 1876 and yet again in 1888-1892. Competition along the Northeast Corridor between New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, principally between the PRR and Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, was fierce. These railroads both used railroad terminals in Jersey City, as there were no tunnels or railroad bridges that crossed the Hudson River to Manhattan until 1910, when the PRR opened Pennsylvania Station.
At Exchange Place passengers could move directly between the trains and ferries without going outside and were transported across the river on the Jersey City Ferry to Cortland Street Ferry Depot in lower Manhattan, to 34th Street in Midtown Manhattan or via the Desbrosses Street Ferry which connected to the Metropolitan Crosstown Line and the Ninth Avenue Elevated at Desbrosses St..
In the 1870s the PRR began exploring ways to improve rail access between New Jersey and New York (see New York Tunnel Extension). A number of route realignments produced a straighter track, with the final realignment, a new passenger line from Harrison to east of the new bridge (now the PATH Lift Bridge) over the Hackensack River, opening in 1900. (The old freight line still exists as part of the Passaic and Harsimus Line.)
The 1910 opening of the North River Tunnels under the Hudson River led to a substantial reduction in PRR traffic at Exchange Place. On October 1, 1911 the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, a rapid transit system (now called Port Authority Trans Hudson or PATH), began operating over the PRR line west of Waldo Yard, connecting with the new Manhattan Transfer station at Harrison. The Lehigh Valley Railroad, which had operated its Black Diamond train service from Buffalo, New York since 1896, ended service to Exchange Place in 1913. Ferry service at Exchange Place ended in 1949. The last PRR passenger train used the branch on November 17, 1961. The PATH continues to use the line through Bergen Hill to the Journal Square Transportation Center and onward to Newark Penn Station.
The Exchange Place terminal fell into gradual disuse. The last of the buildings of the complex, along with the elevated portion of the rail line, were demolished in 1963. Part of the former terminal complex is now the PATH system's Exchange Place Station and the Harborside Financial Center, while the ferry slips have been replaced with J. Owen Grundy Waterfront Park. Hudson-Bergen Light Rail maintains two stations in the district while ferries are now served by the Paulus Hook Ferry Terminal.