Jersey City, New Jersey was founded in 1630. It’s an old and ancient East Coast metropolis. Jersey City is also, because of its geological terrain, a city that teeters in the past with no clear way into a stabilized future. Allow me to explain. Unlike most modern cities that bury their power lines and cable television lines and other communication cables, Jersey City still hangs all their municipal cabling from telephone poles hoisted along the streets.
The reason for this is simple: Jersey City is built on bedrock. In order to put the cables in the ground, you’d have to dig up massive boulders. You don’t dig precise trenches in Jersey City. You excavate pits. That Jersey City bedrock is both good and bad. It’s good because Jersey City is the definition of “rock solid” — the city core is incredibly sturdy — and it’s bad because your city looks like it’s stuck in the 1950’s with all sorts of wires and cables angling above your head every day. Another problem with telephone poles in your city is that they are made out of wood and they warp while in use and they need to be replaced. You can’t “bury it, and forget it” like you can with cables.
I’ve lived in Jersey City for over a decade and the first thing that struck me about the city all those years ago was the plethora of what I call — “Janky Poles” — telephone poles that look like they’re about to tip over and break from overuse. A few days ago, I took a half-hour walk on the streets of Jersey City to memorialize some of the sillier Janky Poles in my neighborhood and here are the best-of-the-worst for your perusal.
The first Janky Pole is the second pole in the distance. Every time I happen upon that particular Janky Pole, I always cross the street because I fear if someone sneezes too close to that chunk of wood, the whole thing will come toppling down.
Next up, on our Jersey City Janky Pole Tour, is this monstrosity just standing and waiting for the wind to whip up right and topple those transformers straight into someone’s noggin on the way to the ground. Remember, these poles have been warped like this for as long as I can remember. There’s no Hurricane Irene tomfoolery going on here in her aftermath.
On this busy Jersey City street corner, we have twin Janky Poles swinging in the breeze — one tilts one way, the other leans the opposite direction. They’re both reaching out for danger.
This Janky Pole is one of the most treacherous. It’s loaded with transformers and lots of heavy cable television wire storage and it looks ready to crack and fall any moment!
Here’s the worst Janky Pole of them all. It sits outside a Catholic school. The pole is burdened with transformers and special lighting and appears to be pulled in several different directions by a ganglia of wire — let it leans in only one, precarious direction: Into the street below! If you look closely, the pole appears to be broken in the middle.
Upon closer inspection of that particular Janky Pole, you can see the pole is not broken. A metal pipe lashed to the wooden pole is what snapped in two! Wood wins again against the elements!
I love looking at these Jersey City Janky Poles but I avoid going near them at any cost. I also find them sort of funny and memorable in a we’ll-never-be-able-to-afford-to-replace-them-in-this-recession sort of way.