The initial inspiration for this layout was derived from a plan I'd developed for another modeler, which was designed for a hollow core door.
I liked it enough to consider building it for myself, but lacking the space for an HCD, I downsized it to two by four feet. Looking at the the two plans, it's hard to see the logical progression; after having designed literally hundreds of layouts, I can only say the process remains a mystery even to me.
Unlike most others, this plan didn't deviate much after the initial design. About all I did was rearrange some of the buildings and streets and add an elevated line (orange) and a trolley line (green), a result of the historical research I'd done into Jersey City.
But then I was faced with a decision on the layout's era, and that became a conundrum. I was unable to decide between early and late Twentieth Century. That's when I struck upon an insane idea: do both. Viewed from one direction, it would be the 30s; viewed from the opposite direction, it would be the 80s.
Ultimately this idea was dismissed when the Hoboken Manufacturers Railroad offered an alternative solution. Curiously, the choice of era was never finalized; this could be the early one and Hoboken the later one, or vice-versa. It didn't matter; construction could still proceed on both of them regardless of which way the pendulum swung.