Hoboken + Jersey City Murals: The Stories Behind Them

Murals are vital in any community for a few different reasons. Murals offer an opportunity for local artists to express themselves on walls across the city, provide a representation of people in the community that creates important dialogue, and offer multitudes of inspiration for those who gaze upon them. They can liven up the most forgotten streets in a city and create a hub of creativity. Jersey City has been a leading force in the art community through commissioning 138 murals and counting, all of which can be viewed on jcmap.com. Hoboken has recently added a few murals to its portfolio and they are definitely worth visiting. So, in honor of these gorgeous pieces of work, we have rounded up a few of the most unique and impactful murals that stand out in Hoboken and Jersey City that you can visit {even while social distancing}.

Napoli's Pizzeria

{Photo credit: @roigcollection}

Hoboken 

150 Years of History… Hoboken

150 of Hoboken

Artist: Justine Uva-Sgaramella, Stefanie Ashby and students from Hoboken schools 

Date: 2005

Location: 25 5th Street {along the back wall of the Little League Field, facing the pier}

Description: This massive mural pays tribute to the over 150 years of history in Hoboken — with images of iconic landmarks and people of the community. The mural begins with the message “To Hoboken with Peace and Love” and showcases images of schools, brownstones, churches, police cars, local businesses, the Arts & Music Festival, Sybil’s Cave, The Little League Field, Firehouse Engine No. 2, Maxwell Place Beach, the public library, Lackawanna Station, and more. 

Hoboken, NJ

Artist: Distort

Date: 2019

Location: 1312 Adams Street {on the wall of the CubeSmart Self Storage Building}

Description: Distort wanted to honor Hoboken’s history as a working-class and artistic city by representing the people and places that gave it character. The mural was three years in the making and features Maria Pepe, one of the first girls to play Little League baseball, Depression-era photographer Dorothea Lange, African American nightclub fixture Dorothy McNeil, as well as two dock workers, showcasing the industrial period.

Hoboken Hero 

Michael Chang

{Photo credit: @roigcollection}

Artist: Ricardo Roig 

Date: 2019

Location: 1012 Grand Street {overlooking the tennis courts at Columbus Park}

Description: Commissioned by the City of Hoboken to paint a mural that reflected the diversity of the community, Ricardo Roig created this to honor Michael Chang, the first Asian-American tennis player. Inspired by his hard work, Roig chose to honor Michael Chang, a Hobokenite who was victorious in the 1989 French Open as the first Asian-American.  He was inspired by his hard work and achievements despite any obstacles. The painting is hand-cut and stencil spray-painted.

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Hoboken Color

Artist: Ricardo Roig

Date: 2019

Location: 133 Clinton Street 

Description: Ricardo Roig has been a fan of Napoli’s Pizzeria for many years and when the owners opened their second location in Hoboken at, Roig suggested to the owner, Frank Volpe, that he use the side of the brick building as a canvas for art, and the rest was history. The mural depicts iconic scenes from Hoboken, the Lackawanna Station, PATH station, the cobblestones of Court Street, and the views from the Hoboken waterfront. 

 

Jersey City

Aqualand 

Aqualand

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: Jersey City Youth Works Program 

Date: 2015 

Location: 630 Grand Street {wraps around the Buy Wise auto parts building}

The Jersey City Youth Works created a colossal collection of sea life murals that come together to form a masterpiece. A giant squid, sharks, fish, coral, crabs, penguins, seahorses, and more are depicted in vibrant colors and designs. 

Bang Bang Boogie 

Bang Bang Boogie

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: Ruben Sanchez 

Date: 2018

Location: 181 Monticello Ave

Description: This scene is a tribute to hip hop culture and its origins, featuring the different elements of hip hop {B-boying, Mcing, Graffiti, Djing} in an old school block party-type scene, including the fire hydrant pumping water and the boombox. “Keeping it local, I took the color palette from New Jersey’s Sugarhill Gang verse in their famous ‘Rappers Delight’ —  I’d like to say hello to the black to the white, the red and the brown {dark red in this case}, the purple and yellow,” said Sanchez The rap lingo and abstractions from the song were also an inspiration to make all the characters interact merging into a trippy camouflage pattern.

Black Sheep 

Black Sheep

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: Pixel Pancho

Date: 2013

Location: 143 Christopher Columbus Drive

Description: Taking from his family life of personally being looked at as the black sheep {i.e. being an artist}, Pixel Pancho painted the stunning large scale mural right in the heart of downtown Jersey City,, with of course the human boy being a reflection of himself. This robotic Victorian-style family portrait is on a whole other level from his usual walls, incorporating a ton of detail and characters, a bit more like his paintings.

Cosmic Balance 

Cosmic Balance

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: Gera Luz and Werc 

Date: 2017

Location: 380 Summit Avenue {across the street from the Jersey City Municipal Court}

Description: It is the work of the well-known duo, Werc and Gera Luz. Contemplating the theme of justice, it features Maat, the Egyptian Goddess of Justice. The items on the scale are a heart and a feather that determined the fate of the departed soul. 

David Bowie

David Bowie

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: Eduardo Kobra 

Date: 2015

Location: 1837 Jersey Avenue

Description: Ten months after David Bowie passed, Kobra painted Ziggy Stardust, the famous fictional character created by the singer in the ‘70s. It utilizes bright colors and bold lines while staying true to a kaleidoscope theme throughout his art. The technique of repeating squares and triangles allows him to bring to life the famous people he depicts in his images.

Diversity

Diversity

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: Lissanne Lake 

Date: 2019

Location: 216 Sip Avenue

Description: Highlighting the diversity of the community was the main goal of this mural. The artist wanted to highlight the diversity in gender, age, and race that we not only see in Jersey City but in the world. Lake aimed to provide a happy and uplifting image that both pedestrians and motorists stuck in traffic.  

Elefanka and Mousezilla

Elefanka and Mousezilla

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: Ron English

Date: 2019

Location: 266 Erie Street

Description: One of the most prolific and recognizable artists alive today and Jersey City resident, Ron English, brought his “POPaganda” talents to Jersey City with a 60-foot mural. He coined the term POPaganda to describe a mash-up of high and low cultural touchstones.

Heroes of the World

Heroes of the World

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: Jersey City Youth Works Program

Date: 2019

Location: 1 Ocean Avenue

Description: This 200-foot long mural located in the Greenville neighborhood was created by students who reflected on the importance of heroes. They were inspired by many of the trailblazers and historical figures that have helped shape the world as we know it today. Some of the historical figures include Fela Kuti, Helen Keller, Ai Wei Wei, Red Cloud, Florence Nightingale, Oprah Winfrey, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Frida Kahlo, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, among many others. They aimed to highlight key moments of the local and global history.

Intuition

Intuition

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: Marina Zumi

Date: 2018

Location: 172 Newark Avenue

Description: One of the largest murals in the city, this cosmic art piece wraps around the front and side of Palace Drugs Pharmacy. With blue, black, pink, and purple, Zumi created an otherworldly, celestial escape from the busy streets of Downtown to her epic perception of outer space. “This piece was for the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey which has the largest planetarium in the northern hemisphere,” says Zuni. She aimed to “approach the people to the universal basic knowledge, from the sacred information, all around the cosmos, to the core as we know, as connectors, as spectators, as hungry minds, as free soul birds, as wisdom crystals, us as we are,” Zumi explains. The mural is more than meets the eye. It’s a visual reflection of the complexity and beauty of humanity and life.

JC180 

JC180

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: MadC. 

Date: 2019

Location: 627 Summit Avenue {on the side of the Summit Plaza building}

Description: At 18 floors high, this vibrant, ‘80s-vibe abstract mural can be seen from the NJ Turnpike. It evokes the feeling of fun and happiness with it’s yellow, pink, orange, blue, and green strokes. With assistance by John and Distort, it was painted with acrylics and paint guns as well as spray paint. It was painted in 180 hours over the course of 12 days.

Jersey City Crown

Jersey City Crown

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: Baeu Stanton 

Date: 2017

Location: 266 Monmouth Street

Description: The image references several iconic Jersey City buildings making up the crown including the Powerhouse, old City Hall, and New Jersey Central Terminal to name a few. The character’s portrait is in black and white, with his mind transitioning into the iconic buildings. The background is a bright blue and orange with a mandala design in the bottom left corner.

Keep Pushing 

Keep Pushing

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: Brandon BMike Odums

Date: 2019

Location: 135 Stegman Street

Description: This mural stands tall overlooking the neighborhood with four smiling faces of children that come from different backgrounds. In a vibrant orange and blue, the message of diversity and unity fill the street. “It was important for me to collaborate with the young people in this community. We hosted a series of Skype calls which led to this idea, a visual representation of joy, aspiration, and hope, which aligns with the type of work I do all the time. I think this type of collaboration helps a project like this go a long way. I want this mural to help change the way we see each other as well as the way we see ourselves,” BMike explains. It goes without saying how vital it is for children to see a positive representation of themselves in their communities and it’s thanks to artists like BMike that provide that through their talent.

Liquid Lights 

Liquid Lights

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: Dan Kitchner 

Date: 2019

Location: 88 Wallis Street 

Description: The British artist known as DANK has created his second large scale mural in the  U.S. on his mini mural tour of the country. It has a link back to his original painting from 2008 of the same name. The mural mixes together a combination of his styles into one image. He aimed to reflect the energy, chaos, and vibrancy of Tokyo. 

Sowing Seeds of Light 

Sowing Seeds of Light

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: Geraluz and Werc 

Date: 2019

Location: 164 Hutton Street

Description: This mural is a collaboration with Geraluz for the JCMAP. It was a humble attempt to “speak about planting new ideas that will liberate our future, sowing seeds of light and harvesting suns of freedom. Inspired by the act of planting seeds of consciousness and kindness in the universe, it is about being grateful, and having the courage to stand up and defend inequalities in order to free ourselves from oppressive powers,” says Geraluz. The artist explains that when we plant a seed of love, or a seed of knowledge, a tree of abundance and wisdom grows to feed our souls and our minds.

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The Jersey City Wave

Jersey City Wave

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: Shepard Fairey 

Date: 2014

Location: 325 Grove Street

Description: Shepard Fairey is one of the most influential street artists of our time, with his most famous art includes images of Andre the Giant, the Obey trademark, the propaganda poster of Barack Obama, and many more. The mural is designed to symbolize the renaissance and the cultural wave that Jersey City is riding while also acknowledging its waterfront location and the beauty and power of Mother Nature.

Tropical Peace

Tropical Peace

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: Zeh Palito 

Date: 2018

Location: 150 Summit Avenue

Description: Zeh Palito is an artist who is living and working in Limeira, Sao Paulo, Brazil but travels the world for his art. His practice involves the potential of urban non-spaces, creating large-scale, site-specific works. Conversations about day-to-day life live inside a host of characters, such as animals, people, plants, through brightly colored palettes. This one depicts vibrant, geometric fruit with dimensional variations. Zeh hopes to send powerful messages that link us, as humanity, to our world around us and to all living beings that coexist among us.

We Shall Overcome

We Shall Overcome

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: Case Maclaim 

Date: 2015

Location: 565 Bergen Avenue

Description: This piece features Maclaim’s signature hands and arms perfectly rendered and intertwining among one another at a towering height. The simplicity of holding hands is symbolic in it’s message of unity, strength, and love. Maclaim aims to unite communities, saying, “I have seen over 20 countries with the opportunity to leave my fingerprints in each one. There is no way I’ll let my life be filled with hate for anybody. As long as I can I’ll spread the idea of unity! We shall overcome.” Maclaim, like many other artists, use their platform to send encouraging messages to the world in hopes to inspire change.

Wendy at the Window

Wendy at the Window

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Artist: Seth

Date: 2016

Location: 17 McWilliams Place 

Description: Seth drew inspiration from Wendy, an unusually tall {rumor has it she was 7’4”}, a nine-year-old girl who resided in Jersey City with her family in the early 20th century. After the Wall Street Crash of 1929 her father, Arthur J. Pendlesnatch, decided to start a freak show caravan featuring Wendy as the star. This mural reflects Wendy gazing at the pigeons out of her barred wagon, as she would often do, longing for a regular life no longer on the road.

black lives matter jersey city

{Photo credit: @reenarose}

Title: Black Lives Matter

Artist: Alvin Pettit, Catherine Hart, StarDaysha Santos, Troy Jones, Hyasmine Gaskins & volunteers

Date: August 2020

Location: Grand Street/Communipaw Avenue

Description: This street mural is a block-long going down Grand Street in Jersey City, including portraits of political activist Angela Davis and football player-turned-civil-rights-activist Colin Kaepernick. It took two weeks to complete. The concept came to fruition when City Council President Joyce Watterman was asked by members of the community for a mural street mural like the ones that have been painted in cities across the country to symbolize the Black Lives Matter movement.

jersey city mural

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Title: Heights/Alturas

Artist: Mata Ruda

Date: 2013

Location: 220 Paterson Plank Road

Description: Mata Ruda is an artist and activist. He was born in San Jose, Costa Rica and lived in Caracas, Venezuela until he was 11 when he came to the United States. Using iconography from both sides of the border, he creates a variety of murals and paintings that empower immigrant and overlooked communities and cultures.

jersey city mural

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Title: Jersey City

Artist: Fermin Mendoza

Date: 2014

Location: 771 Ocean Avenue

Description: Mendoza is a Cuban artist, and this was his first mural in Jersey City, inspired by a local Jersey City resident. Depicted in the mural is a women’s side profile as she looks up into the sun — the bright blue and yellow imagery creates an eye-catching and hopeful feeling. In the bottom left corner is an image of a road with cars driving underneath a sign reading ‘Jersey City.’ Since then, Mendoza has painted another mural located along Route 440 and it depicts the Pulaski skyway.

jersey city mural

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Title: Lost Lenape Trail

Artist: Emilio Florintine and PAWN

Date: 2013

Location: 13 Summit Avenue

Description: This wall is a tribute to the Lene Lenape Tribes that once resided in the area, created on the site of the historic Lenape Trail in Jersey City. Florentine’s signature-style is flowers — and he has since created additional murals in town, the most well-known being a mural titled “That Hudson River Breeze,” completed in 2019 and located at 78-80 Stevens Avenue. Pawn is a muralist residing in Jersey City that specializes in freehand aerosol graffiti and street art-themed work.

jersey city mural

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Title: Native

Artist: Gaia

Date: 2014

Location: 122 Christopher Columbus Drive

Description: Native features a portrait of Frederick Henry aka ‘Prince of Orange’ and a portrait of a man who represents the Lenape people. During the Prince’s reign, the Dutch West India Company established the settlement of New Amsterdam which would become New York after English occupation. In the bottom right of the mural is a breakfast still life by Willem Claeszoon Heda, with a background of flowers. To the right and left are symbols of investment in real estate — including a glass tower that represents the newer construction in Jersey City’s Downtown and an old historic brownstone.

jersey city mural

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Title: Open Your Mind

Artist: Mark Samsonovich

Date: 2013

Location: 170 Erie Street

Description: Mark Samsonovich is an artist based in New York, and his Open Your Mind mural in Jersey City depicts a man dressed in a grey suit and tie. The man’s arms hang straight down, with his palms open outward, and where his head would be, there are three vibrant colors of paint that look as if they are exploding simultaneously symbolizing new ideas. The mural provides a contrasting theme compared to the conventional, lackluster suit he is wearing. Placed in the middle of the exploding paint are the words “open your mind.”

jersey city mural

{Photo credit: @jcmap}

Title: Untitled

Artist: Jessie and Katey

Date: 2019

Location: Van Wagon Footbridge

Description: Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn are a Baltimore-based artist team striving to transform public spaces into playful and vibrant experiences. The long-standing Van Wagon Footbridge in Jersey City received an energetic and spirited makeover with bold geometric shapes, painted in the boldest colors of the rainbow — transforming the bridge into a one-of-a-kind experience.

Murals encourage you to slow down and admire your surroundings. There’s beauty in every corner you turn, especially when there is colorful and meaningful art. 

Share with us your favorite mural, or one not on this list, you’ve found locally in the comments. Happy exploring!

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Written by:

Victoria is HG's Editorial Assistant. She is a fourth-generation Hoboken native, BNR in the Mile Square, and Jersey City. Through playing softball in town for fourteen years, playing the trumpet for the Hoboken High School Redwings Band, and graduating from New Jersey City University, these two cities have a special place in her heart. When she isn’t Style Assisting or volunteering at Symposia Bookstore, Hoboken Fire Museum/Hoboken Historical Museum, she’s exploring everything the Concrete Jungle has to offer. You can catch her at art exhibitions, local festivities, traveling, diving into a new book, thrifting, or indulging in some form of arts and crafts.