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NY/NJ Mosaic Sign in the Holland Tunnel

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A sign marking the New York-New Jersey border

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Roadway/ Sidewalk, Transportation

Place Matters Profile


Nina Mende (Cooper Union)

My first experience of crossing a border was in a bus with a group of kids. I was eight years old. We were leaving the Lower East Side to go to camp. In the Holland tunnel when we saw the sign New York/New Jersey -- we yelled "We're in New Jersey!"



Traveling quickly by

This Blue Mosaic Sign

From Empire to Garden

From Garden to Empire

From the State of Expectation

to the State of Return

From the State of Being

to the State of Becoming

Crossing the border

is always a Trip!

Andi Shiraz (Cooper Union)

There is a point in the Holland Tunnel, somewhere near the middle of the tube, where my brother and I have always played a little game. If you look carefully the next time you are in the tunnel, up on the tiled wall, you will see the little mosaic marker that announces the boundary between the two states. It is not a very large or prominent marker--just a few tiles in shades of light and dark blue, that spell out in all caps, the works "NEW JERSEY--NEW YORK."

For as long as my brother and I shared an apartment on the edge of Jersey City, we would take every opportunity we could to pile ourselves (and any random out-of-town visitors that happened to be crashing with us) into his tiny red two-door, for the three-to-thirty minute subterranean journey into Manhattan. And every time we did, the two of us would watch surreptitiously (all the while conversing nonchalantly about the latest Broadway play, or the best place to get a hotdog) for that little marker. Whoever was able to catch it, as it flashed past the car windows, would yell out in a breathless tumble of triumphant, stumbling syllables, "look I'm in New York you're in New Jersey!" Of course, if the winning announcement was made from the back seat of the car rather than the front, then you had to say "I'm in New Jersey you're in New York!." It was all about that split second when the car was exactly half-way across that magical line. So both ways counted, and we played it in both directions. But for me the sweetest victory was always when I got to be the one in New York, rather than the one in New Jersey. My brother and I eventually stopped playing this game, but it wasn't because we actually "grew up" or anything. It was simply because I moved to Manhattan three years ago, and I figure that makes me the winner, no matter what.

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