PASSAIC, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey city is fighting to preserve a little piece of its history.

It’s a staircase that connects two streets in Passaic, but for many residents, the steps are much more than just slabs of concrete piled on a hill. They bring back memories, CBSN New York’s Nina Kapur reported Monday.

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It’s known around these parts as “100 steps,” though there are 103 to be exact.

“When I was in high school, in ROTC, we used to go up and down the steps as exercise,” resident Jose Pirul said. “It’s part of my childhood. We spent a lot of time going up and down the steps.”

The stairs look broken and battered today, but over the past century they’ve served as a meeting place, hang out spot, and workout space.

Mayor Hector Lora said they’re a part of the city’s history. It’s hard to find someone who hasn’t made memories here.

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“I was born and raised in this area, so those of us who played football were often required to run up and down these stairs in order to get in condition for football season,” Lora said.

Unfortunately, time has not been kind to the steps that connect the Latona-Griffin Park at the top of Spruce Street, to Harrison Street. Ten years ago, the city was forced to close them off to the public, due to cracks, breaks, and other hazards. But neighbors say that hasn’t stopped people from breaking and entering.

“Fixing it would be great for me. Many guys, they jump the fence,” resident Helerd Oroseo said.

“Because I live here, I don’t like seeing that every day. You see a lot of kids going up and down the steps right now. They have to jump the fences. It’s not right,” Pirul said.

Mayor Lora is looking to give the area a much-needed face lift. It’s a project that could take up to two years, and that won’t be cheap. So, he’s applying for a grant from the county.

“My ultimate goal would be to put some extra lighting, some additional lighting, down the stairs, maybe turn it into a mural, redo the park. Right now, we’re applying for about $700,000,” Lora said.

Drawing on inspiration from stairs in San Francisco, Mayor Lora wants to take the repairs a step further by incorporating art. Transforming the empty ground at Latona-Griffin Park into a recreational space is also part of his vision.

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Lora previously appealed to the state to make “100 steps” a historic landmark. That attempt was unsuccessful, so he’s taking his plans to the county now.