Central Avenue”Streetscapes”Beautification Art Project

Traffic boxes exist to serve their traffic light counterparts. However, their large size (approx. 4x3x2 ft) and plain appearance often attract graffiti, litter, and handbills which turn the boxes into eyesores. Luckily, Jersey City’s brilliant local artists saw these boxes as windows into other worlds just waiting to be discovered right here in Jersey City. Since 2009, local artists were hired to transform traffic boxes within the Central Avenue shopping district into works of art for residents, visitors, and shoppers to enjoy. It was the first time in Hudson County that a neighborhood main street community-made art accessible to the public by developing an outdoor gallery. The Central Avenue shopping district in Jersey City Heights started to welcome professionally produced public art as a way to beautify its streetscape while showcasing the talents of our growing artist community. This movement was one of several happening at the time that really put Jersey City on the map in terms of being an art destination.

This initial venture was titled “Streetscapes” Beautification Art Project and initiated by the Central Avenue SID Management Corp. in partnership with Hudson County Executive Thomas A. DeGise; Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs & Tourism, Director Bill LaRosa; Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, and the City of Jersey City Municipal Council; Councilman Ward D, Bill Gaughan; the City of Jersey City Division of Cultural Affairs; the Heights Artist Initiative, the Jersey City Museum, Pro Arts Jersey City, and Studio Heights.

Since 2014, new art installations were made possible by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/ Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, administered by Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage AffairsThomas A. DeGise, County Executive, and the Board of Chosen Freeholders.

Want a closer look at the artwork on the traffic boxes? Come visit the Central Avenue Special Improvement District for a day of shopping, dining, and a wonderful public art experience.

Together Again & Again

Artist: Micheal Cooper

Location: Bower Street and Central Avenue

The name of this street art is “Together Again & Again “. My wife and I found this so appropriate since the people of Jersey City were incredibly friendly and appreciative. People either walking by or shouting from their car windows said Thank You. WOW! I should be thanking them. The people of Jersey City were so engaged; this made the artwork for us. We painted a traffic box, but the people gave it the meaning we intended. That is, people being connected, sharing, and helping one another. Another observation was that the people were wearing their face masks – the caring for one another was evident.  – Micheal Cooper

Installation: 2020

“I Am”

Artist: Brianna McMaster

Location: Throne Street and Central Avenue

Brianna McMaster is a New Jersey based artist who creates art to express her vision of love through her techniques and use of color. Brianna specializes in bright, colorful imaginative landscapes, still life, and mixed media works using a variety of mediums such as oil paint, acrylic, gouache, ink, and watercolor. She pulls from every conceivable experience that shapes her landscapes and perspectives. Her goal as an artist is to bring joy and excitement to the world around her and bring an ordinary location life and hope for the future.

Installation Period: 2020

“Urban Totem”

Artist: C. Cabrera

Location: Franklin Street and Central Avenue

This piece is a fun, ligh hearted work that is meant to attempt to remind people of the fact that life, although amazingly complicated at times, is meant to be enjoyed and played.

Installation Period: 2020 –

“Home 1”

Artist: Kirk Seese

Location: Bowers St. and Central Avenue

Part of being a viusal artist is taking something people see every day and offering it up in a whole new way. Such is the case with this piece. We took the shrink ray to this beautiful bit of architecture to give the viewer a distorted sence of scale. What people do with it from there is up to them and becomes part of the art itself.

Installation Period: 2018 -2019

“Candy Anyone?”

Artist: Kirk Seese

Location: Franklin Street and Central Avenue

What if there was a giant gumball machine so bit someone could fit inside? Like a ball pit but filled with gum! If they got stuck would they have to eat their way out? It’s these kind of questions that make me smile. That’s exactly what we’ve created here with this utility box. Enjoy!

Installation Period: 2018 -2019

“Connecting Colors”

Artist: John Guevara

Location: Manhattan Ave and Central Avenue

Inspiration for the artwork came from Elaine Lustig Cohen, an American graphic designer and Jersey City native. Her modernist style is distinctly American and her expertise in typographic communication motivated the typography for this project. To portray the cultural and community diversity that exists within Jersey City by using color primary colors. Secondary colors were used to spell out hidden names of 4 different areas located in Jersey City which viewers will discover upon closer inspection.

Installation Period: 2017 –


Artist: Edwin Rentas Jr.

Location: Congress St. and Central Avenue

The POKEBOX is inspired by the Nintendo hit sensation POKEMON that has captured the interests of children and adults alike. The classic pixilated red and white design pays homage to the pokeball which is important to the lore of the videogame/ cartoon series. It is an icon that even non-fans of the series can recognize. With that in mind, the intended design is meant for everyone to enjoy.

Installation Period: 2017 –

“Love Wins” | “El Amor Gana”

Artist: Derek Tunia

Location: North St. and Central Avenue

Artist Derek Tunia painted a heart made to look like stained glass. The concept behind it is to show that although the heart can be broken into pieces, we can all be beautiful and whole. We also can love again, hence “Love Wins.”

Installation Period: 2016 –

“We Rose Above”

Artist: Jeff Rose

Location: Hutton St. and Central Avenue

The inspiration for this artwork comes from the famous poem by the late Tupac Shakur titled “The rose that grew from concrete.” It holds a special place in the heart of the artist, not only because the rose is used as his main symbol, but its meaning can resonate with anyone who has had to struggle in life. The concrete is symbolism for the very bottom, and that could mean certain things to certain people. The rose represents us as humans and the beautiful journey we experience called life. No matter where we come from, it shows we can all grow into something or someone beautiful and strong.

Installation Period: 2016 –

PAC-Man Eats Jersey City!

Artist: Eric Som

Location: Thorne St. and Central Avenues

PAC-MAN is a classic arcade game, recognizable and liked by many generations. The idea behind this concept is to bring people back to their youth, to trigger happy thoughts from our youth. Eric believes transforming a dull traffic box into a fun PAC-MAN video game screen would be a welcomed addition to Jersey City’s rich public art collection.

Installation Period: 2015 – 2020

“Reflections of the Present”

Artist: Dillon Dunning

Location: Manhattan and Central Avenues

Seeing things from different perspectives adds to one’s own perspective on the world. If everything in our reality is composed of matter, and matter is living, then everything is alive and ultimately every living object has its own perspective. The box was painted as if it is reflecting its environment as if it was a mirror. Seeing the world from its point of view. It’s an attempt at showing the perspective of the object, as it sees the world. Art itself has a soul, has its own life, so in affect we are breathing life into this object.

Installation Period: 2014 – 2017

“Life Pad”

Artist: Mr. AbiLLity

Location: North Street and Central Avenue

In this day and age it is nearly impossible to find someone walking down the street without the glow of a phone or tablet lighting their face. The important things in life get lost in these digital distractions. The utility boxes have a tablet shape so they were turned into one, but the apps are not the time killers we are use to. They are the symbol of what is truly important in life. They consist of love, peace, music, art, bacon, and other essentials. Of course it is playful in design but with the serious undertone to remind people what is more important in life.

Installation Period: 2014 – 2016

“Splash of Color”

Artist: Ed “T.DEE” Morris

Location: Franklin Street and Central Avenue

With such a small surface to work with, Morris’s intention was to simply add something of vibrant color & shape to liven up that corner. Color, movement, energy, & life.

Installation Period: 2011 – 2018


Artist: GJ Lee

Location: Bowers St. & Central Avenue

GJ Lee’s artistic interpretation is a swimming success. She has transformed the utility box into an underwater masterpiece. The aim of the artist was to change an ordinary piece of the urban environment into something unique that would change the environment for the better.

Installation Period: 2009 – 2018


Artist: Sergio Sandino

Location: Congress Street & Central Avenue

The idea is simple: painted animal prints cover each of the 5 sides of the utility box, with no discernible animal form or anatomy; just patterns based on the animal’s coat and color floating on the surface. The colors are bright and bold, true to the animal’s coloring. The patterns are easily recognizable and focus on the beauty of each animal, but also reminds the viewer of the vast natural world that exists beyond our immediate environment, as well as the cultures within the nations that these animals call home. Additionally, this piece represents the cultural diversity found in the Heights and throughout Jersey City.

Installation Period: 2009 – 2017

“It Ain’t Arles”

Artist: E. Jan Kounitz

Produced by: Kari’s Signs (455 Central Ave)

Location: Manhattan and Central Avenues

E. Jan Kounitz’s photographic art is a reflection of the world in which he lives, physically and spiritually.  “It Ain’t Arles”, is a photograph of a large sunflower that grew right here in the JC Heights on Mountain Road adjacent to the Palisade Cliffs. To see more local images please go to www.ejankounitz.com , Category;  “Me Hood”

Installation Period: 2009 – 2014

“Wood Dresser”

Artist: Milosz Koziej

Location: North Street & Central Avenue

The “Wood Dresser” utility box was created from the artistic mind of Milosz Koziej. The idea was to transform the box into a wood dresser by trompe l’oeil technique. This wood graining has the affect of placing a familiar object in the middle of the sidewalk.

Installation Period: 2009 – 2014

Rain, Rain Go Away

Artist: Brendan Carroll

Location: Hutton Street & Central Avenue

The Agitators Collective was inspired by the nursery rhyme, Rain, Rain, Go Away, when developing a concept for the Central Avenue Streetscapes Beautification Project. The bright colors provide a whimsical feel that is enjoyed by the young and old on Central Avenue.

Installation Period: 2009 – 2014

You Say Potato, We Say Po-Tah-To

Artist: Brendon Carroll

Location: Franklin Street & Central Avenue

This playful piece designed by the Agitators Collective draws its inspiration from the childhood game Mr. Potato Head. The concept behind this work was to create a piece that catches the imagination of all age groups.

Installation Period: 2009 – 2011

Gilded Chest

Artist: Milosz Koziej

Location: Thorne Street & Central Avenue

The idea was to change the color of the utility box, thus changing its interpretation. What was once a dull steel box is now a a gold chest which shines in the sun. This transformation was achieved using an aluminum leave technique. Upon close examination, you will find a special design at its center points.

Installation Period: 2009 – 2011