Jersey City Medical Center
The buildings at JCMC were art deco style and were named as the largest concentration of art deco buildings in the State of New Jersey. in 1975, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. By the move in 2004, one of the many buildings at the original JCMC site had been converted to senior living. The property was sold to Metrovest Equities and began renovation to what is now known as the largest residential restoration project in the United States. The developer converted the 10 art deco, federally landmarked, national historically registered buildings into "The Beacon". The Beacon is considered an upscale mixed-use development and exists today using the original buildings of the JCMC.
Below is a breakdown of all 10 high rise buildings of the Jersey City Medical Center:
1. Building A - Medical, demoed in Depression
2. Building B - Out-Patient Services
3. Building C - Admin, General Hospital, Kitchen
4. Building D (Holloway Hall) - Surgical
5. Building E - Isolation (original use), Dental
6. Building F - Garage
7. Building G (Jones Hall, O'Hanlon Hall) - Staff
8. Building J (Fairbank Hall) - Staff/classrooms
9. Building M (Murdoch Hall) - Nurses residence
10. Building O (Pollak Hospital) - Chest Disease
11. Building R (Margaret H Maternity Hospital)
Unlike many of the locations on our website, Jersey City Medical Center, or JCMC for short, was somehow relatively forgotten about in the world of Jersey folklore. Aside from a few mentions in Weird NJ, I don't seem to remember it popping up much on forums or seeing more than a handful of photographs of it. So, of course, we had to pay it a visit.
I wasn't really sure what to expect from JCMC. I read up on the history a little bit but mostly took my usual "F" it approach, drove up to it, parked my car and walked over. I lucked out this particular day in that a random nosey, yet pleasant, neighbor happened to be out mowing his 5-foot by 5-foot patch of grass he referred to as a 'yard'. He saw me poking around the building with my camera, attempting to inch closer to any potential entryways and flagged me down. Being a young, inconspicuous looking girl has it's pros and cons. On one hand, people rarely think I'm actually up to no good, but on the other hand, there are the whole rape and murder type things you have to watch out for. It's a give and take.
I end up chatting with this guy for about 10 or 15 minutes while he tells me his life story of how both he and his mother were born right there in that very hospital building. As I'm nodding my head in agreement and trying to pretend like I am somewhat decent at interacting with other humans, I spot a window where the rusty bars have been pried back just enough to possibly squeeze through. The only problem? The way it is set up, the window is over a sort of basement alleyway, which is filled with various sharp pieces of metal and other chunks of building materials. This alleyway also has a retaining wall around it with a wrought iron fence on top. Eventually, we go to part ways and I asked if he doesn't mind me cutting along his property line for some, you know, closeup pictures? I've got to get a good grade for my report! I inspect further, snap some pictures, and send them off to the rest of the crew to devise a plan.
Some weeks later, we finally return. My friends turn to me, "yeah, you weren't kidding." It's early morning at this point, and we make our quick escape down the property line of the yard again and are met with the wrought iron bars. We have to figure out how to not only get up on them to get over the retention wall, but then lean across the roughly 3-4 foot wide gap of the alleyway to wiggle under the bars of this window, all while trying to avoid a misstep that would propel us two stories downwards into the pit of scrap metal death. The two guys make it through, mostly unfazed, but now comes my turn. Everyone is holding their breath as I haphazardly make my way across while it feels like 16 different hands are grabbing my body at every move to make sure I don't plummet to my death. Some cuts, bruises and a few choice words later, we make it inside.
We spend the rest of the day getting to know this building from head to toe. At some point, I wandered off alone, as I usually do, and just spent a while taking in the view from the roof. I remember being able to look off in every direction and see nothing but blue skies and bustling city life. More than once I forget that I'm sitting on the ledge of a building that's been vacant for almost as long as I've been alive, and look down to see confused passerby's. I recollect my thoughts and return to the group. Our final stop, as per tradition, is in search of the morgue. I was delightfully surprised that we found it with ease, even if it was just the skeleton that remained. We pack up and proceed to head out, this time our skills a bit more adapted to handle the window of death. This was one of those rare occasions where things just went right. No injuries, no police, no angry neighbors chasing us down. But hey, where's the fun in that?