The park that a New Jersey governor referred to as “New Jersey’s gift to the nation”, Liberty State Park is celebrating its birthday this week. The Jersey City jewel opened on June 14, 1976, to coincide with the nation’s bicentennial.

The park covers over 1200 acres; the first 165 acres were donated to the state by Jersey City, and the rest were acquired with local, state, and federal funds. The original site of what is now the park was a transportation hub for the Central Railroad of New Jersey, but had not been used for years and left abandoned tracks, abandoned buildings and brownfields behind.

Liberty State Park sits a few hundred feet from both Ellis Island and Liberty Island, where the statue of Liberty stands. It also offers impressive views of the Manhattan skyline.

Visitors can walk, bike, picnic, and fish in the park, and it is also home to the Liberty Science Center (with the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere).

The park’s Flag Plaza features the state flag of each of the 50 states as well as 13 American Flags, one for each of the original states.

It is also home to several memorials and monuments, including the “Empty Sky” memorial to commemorate the 9/11 victims; the names of the deceased are etched into two, 30 foot panels.

One piece of (well known) trivia is that the famous “leave the gun, take the cannoli” scene in “The Godfather” film was shot where Liberty State Park now stands.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.

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