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Liberty State Park is located on Upper New York Bay in Jersey City, New Jersey, opposite the Liberty Island and Ellis Island. The park opened in 1976 to coincide with bicentennial celebrations and is operated and maintained by the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry.
Liberty State Park covers 1,212 acres (490 ha). The main part of the park is bordered by water on three sides: on the north by the Morris Canal Big Basin and on the south and east by Upper New York Bay. The New Jersey Turnpike Newark Bay Extension (Interstate 78) marks its western perimeter.
The southern Caven Point section of the park is separated from the main part of the park by the Liberty National Golf Club and is accessible along the water's edge using the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway. The long thin pier at the foot of Chapel Avenue that was once part of the park has been demolished.
Most of the park's area is on landfill created by the Central Railroad of New Jersey (CRRNJ) and the Lehigh Valley Railroad, defunct companies whose lines once terminated there. In the northeast corner of the park is the CRRNJ Terminal, a historic transportation building. Statue Cruises offers ferries to Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis Island and Liberty Island that depart nearby. A 50-foot railroad track remnant from the Lehigh Valley Railroad can be found at 40.709430, -74.047327 in the park.
Communipaw Cove is part of the 36-acre (15 ha) state nature preserve in the park and is one of the few remaining tidal salt marshes along the Hudson River estuary. The Interpretive Center, designed by architect Michael Graves, is part of the preserve. To the west lies the Interior Natural Area, which is off limits to the public and is being allowed through natural processes to recover from environmental abuse. The park is also the only state park in Essex, Hudson, and Bergen counties. Another section of the park is called Liberty Industrial Park.
A road called Freedom Way goes through the center and serves as a barrier between the area closed to the public to its west and the area that is open to the public to its east, with its many bike paths, walkways, and fields.
Liberty Walkway, a crescent-shaped promenade, stretches from the CRRNJ along the waterfront south to the Statue of Liberty overlook, bridging two coves along the way. It is part of the longer Hudson River Waterfront Walkway. Halfway along Liberty Walkway is a bridge to Ellis Island, but only authorized vehicles are allowed. The southeastern corner of the park contains the Statue of Liberty overlook, picnic facilities, a playground, the U.S. Flag Plaza and Liberation Monument, the Public Administration Building, and a memorial to the Black Tom explosions. Picnicking and barbecing facilities are also located at the southern end of the park. Originally called "Liberty Walk", this part of the project won a landscape award in 1995. The name "Liberty Walk" was already associated with Philadelphia such as through a booklet The Liberty Walk Through Historic Old Philadelphia published by the American Wax Museum, Philadelphia (before 1969) which listed a walk round 23 sites of historic interest.
The Liberty Science Center, at the northwestern entrance to the park, is an interactive science museum and learning center. The center opened in 1993 as New Jersey's first major state science museum. It has science exhibits, the world's largest IMAX Dome theater, numerous educational resources, and the original Hoberman sphere, a silver, computer-driven engineering artwork designed by Chuck Hoberman.
Empty Sky is the official state memorial to the September 11 attacks of the World Trade Center. Situated on a berm the parallel walls engraved with the names of victims are oriented to face the former World Trade Center site. Designed by architect Frederic Schwartz, it was dedicated on September 10, 2011, commemorating the tenth anniversary.
Part of Liberty Park was a small island in New York Harbor named Black Tom. In the late 1800s, landfill projects helped join the island with the mainland. Audrey Zapp, Theodore Conrad, Morris Pesin and J. Owen Grundy were influential environmentals and historians who spearheaded the movement that led to the creation of Liberty State Park. They are remembered by the naming of places and streets along the waterfront.
The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail runs just west the park with a station at its entrance. 305 Liberty State Park shuttle and 981 Port Liberté bus lines also stop there. Hornblower Cruises operates ferries to Ellis Island and Liberty Island, and a water taxi to Paulus Hook and the World Financial Center.
In March 2013, Jersey City received a $500,000 grant to study extending Jersey Avenue from Downtown directly into the park, which would simplify access and create a new gateway to the park. In May 2013, a new pedestrian/bike bridge was placed over Mill Creek at the small basin to replace an older one that had een destroyed by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. It is situated so as not interfere with any new road construction.
On July 4, 1985, Daryl Hall and John Oates played an outdoor benefit concert for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty in front of an estimated 70,000 people at Liberty State Park. The concert was later re-played on HBO. In 2006, the park began to host the Liberty Jazz Festival. This two-day event is normally held the first weekend after Labor Day each year and has included performers such as George Benson, Waymon Tisdale and a host of other celebrated jazz artists.
In 2001, Cirque du Soleil premeiered its new work. The Park was the site of the All Points West Music & Arts Festival festival, held from August 8–10, 2008, and hosted the festival again from July 31 - August 2, 2009, with such headlining acts as Jay-Z, Coldplay, Tool, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
In May 2010, plans were put forth outlining the use of the park as the new home of the United States Formula One Grand Prix for the 2012 season. These plans met outrage from the community, particularly the Friends of Liberty State Park, and were ultimately rejected by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
Display of thirteen (only 12 shown) American Flags at Liberty State Park, with the Statue of Liberty in the background
Artist's rendering of visitors walking between the walls of Empty Sky
Artist's rendering of Empty Sky set against the backdrop of lower Manhattan, where "empty sky" replaces the World Trade Center Twin Towers destroyed in the attack.
Communipaw Terminal, historic building. Dock in foreground serves ferries to Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty
Flags at half-staff in Liberty State Park