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Hoboken, New Jersey

Image of Hoboken taken by NASA (red line shows where Hoboken is).
Image of Hoboken taken by NASA (red line shows where Hoboken is).

Hoboken is a densely populated city on the west bank of the Hudson River in Hudson County, New Jersey, just across from Manhattan. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 38,577.



Hoboken is located at 40°44'41" North, 74°1'59" West (40.744851, -74.032941)1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.1 km² (2.0 mi²). 3.3 km² (1.3 mi²) of it is land and 1.8 km² (0.7 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 35.35% water.


Hoboken was originally an island, surrounded by the Hudson River on the east and a swamp at the foot of the Palisades on the west. It was used seasonally as a campsite by the Lenni Lenape until they fell victim to war, disease and forced migration brought by Europeans in the 17th century.

The nineteenth century

After the American war for independence, the area that is now Hoboken was purchased at auction by Colonel John Stevens. In the early 1800s, Stevens developed the waterfront as a resort for Manhattanites, which he used as a sort of laboratory for testing his many mechanical inventions, as well as a lucrative source of income. Later in the century, the advantages of Hoboken as a shipping port and industrial center would become apparent. By the late 1800s, great shipping lines were using Hoboken as a terminal port, and the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad (later the Erie Lackawanna Railroad) had developed a railroad terminal at the waterfront. Hoboken was incorporated as a city in 1855.

The new city experienced a boom in population and employment during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as the Hoboken Land and Improvement Company , founded by Colonel Stevens in 1838 and managed by his heirs, laid out a regular system of streets, blocks and lots, constructed housing, and developed manufacturing sites. In general, the housing consisted of masonry attached rowhomes of three to five stories. Many of these buildings survive to the present day, as does the street grid. It was also during this time that German immigrants became the predominant population group in the city. In addition to the primary industry of shipbuilding, well-known industries that developed a major presence in Hoboken included Maxwell House, Lipton Tea, and Hostess. In 1870, the Stevens Institute of Technology was founded at Castle Point, the highest point in Hoboken and site of the Stevens family's former estate.

"Heaven, Hell or Hoboken."

World War I proved to be the city's turning point. Anti-German sentiment led to part of the city being placed under martial law, and many Germans were forcibly moved to Ellis Island in nearby New York Harbor or left the city altogether. During the war however, Hoboken achieved a new national fame. It was from terminals in Hoboken that American troops boarded ships bound for Europe. More than three million soldiers passed through the port, and their hope for an early return led to the slogan, "Heaven, Hell or Hoboken... by Christmas."

Interwar years

Following the war, Italians became the city's major ethnic group, with the Irish also having a strong presence. Other ethnic groups followed, most notably Puerto Ricans in the 1960s. Despite the continued infusions of new residents, the city appeared to be in the throes of inexorable decline by midcentury as industries sought greener pastures in the suburbs, port operations shifted to larger facilities in Newark Bay, and the automobile, truck and airplane displaced the railroad and ship as the transportation modes of choice in the United States. Most of the port facilities closed for good in 1975.

Post World War II

In the 1970s and 1980s, Hoboken surprised many people by reinventing itself as a haven for artists, musicians, and, most of all, young and upwardly mobile who were commuting into Manhattan for work. The gentrification of the city took place in much the same way as in the Manhattan neighborhood of SoHo, whereby the initial presence of artists changed the perception of the city such that other people who would not have considered moving there before now perceived it as an interesting, safe, and even desirable address. The gentrification process has continued to the present day, with many new apartment blocks now being constructed on former industrial sites, both on the waterfront and, increasingly, in the low-lying western portions of the city that were traditionally the most impoverished. Nonetheless, political control of the city has remained mostly in the hands of the city's long-term residents, largely because the often transient newcomers appear to have much lower levels of interest and organization than do the long-term residents. The City of Hoboken is governed under the Faulkner Act (Mayor-Council) system of municipal government.


As of the census of 2000, there are 38,577 people, 19,418 households, and 6,835 families residing in the city. The population density is 11,636.5/km² (30,239.2/mi²). There are 19,915 housing units at an average density of 6,007.2/km² (15,610.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 80.82% White, 4.26% African American, 0.16% Native American, 4.31% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 7.63% from other races, and 2.78% from two or more races. 20.18% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 19,418 households out of which 11.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 23.8% are married couples living together, 9.0% have a female householder with no husband present, and 64.8% are non-families. 41.8% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.0% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 1.92 and the average family size is 2.73.

In the city the population is spread out with 10.5% under the age of 18, 15.3% from 18 to 24, 51.7% from 25 to 44, 13.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 30 years. For every 100 females there are 103.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 103.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $62,550, and the median income for a family is $67,500. Males have a median income of $54,870 versus $46,826 for females. The per capita income for the city is $43,195. 11.0% of the population and 10.0% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 23.6% are under the age of 18 and 20.7% are 65 or older.


In the mid 20th century Hoboken sank from its earlier incarnation as a lively port town into a severely rundown condition and was often included in lists with other New Jersey towns and cities that had seen much better days, such as Paterson, Elizabeth, and Camden. Then, in the late 1970s, it began a surprising rejuvenation that led to its becoming, by the mid-1990s, easily one of the state's most vibrant communities.

The city today is noted for its excellent views of Manhattan, fine-grained street grid, historic architecture, and lively collection of restaurants and bars. Its compactness, density and historic street layout mean that a car is more of a hindrance than a help in getting around, and the city retains a basic pedestrian orientation with high levels of foot traffic. Socially, Hoboken's gentrification has become relatively advanced, though a large base of native residents remains in the city and holds political power. The population of "newcomers" or "yuppies", as they are typically called in the local press, consists of college and post-graduate students, bi-nationals, older artists and, increasingly, well-to-do commuters to Manhattan. The presence of these individuals gives Hoboken a unique energy and a growing reputation as a desirable place to live. However, the rising cost of living in Hoboken has already resulted in a significant exodus of the "bohemian" population that was responsible for turning the city's reputation around.

After the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks, architects made plans for a September 11 memorial on Pier A. In September 2004, the Hoboken Island design concept was chosen to become the city's permanent memorial.


The Hoboken waterfront is broadly defined as the western shore of the Hudson, from Newark Street to Stevens Institute of Technology, sandwiched by the Holland Tunnel to the south and Lincoln Tunnel to the north. It defined Hoboken as the archetypal port town and powered its economy from the mid-19th century to outbreak of World War I, when the federal government seized most of it under eminent domain. Control of the waterfront was returned to the city in the early 1950s. On the Waterfront, consistently listed among the five best American films ever, was filmed here, dramatically highlighting the rough and tumble lives of dockworkers and the infiltration of unions by organized crime. Today the waterfront is cherished for it scenic views of the Hudson and Manhattan, accessible to all by fine parks built on the foundations of former piers (Pier A, Sinatra Park, and Pier 14 ).

Interesting facts about Hoboken

  • Hoboken is the site of the first brewery in the United States, Castle Point.
  • It is the site of the first known baseball game between two different teams, which took place at Elysian Fields, on Hudson Street between 10th and 11th Streets.
  • It is the site of the first demonstration of a steam railroad in the United States at 56 Newark Street at Hudson Street.
  • The first departure of an electrified train, driven by Thomas A. Edison from Hoboken Terminal to Montclair.
  • The first central air-conditioning unit was installed at Hoboken Terminal.
  • The first wireless phone was used in Hoboken Terminal.
  • It was the site of a World War I embarkation point, 1st and 2nd Streets at River Street--almost all American troops sent to Europe left from here.
  • Frank Sinatra was born at 415 Monroe Street.
  • Hoboken is the home of the accidental invention of soft ice-cream, which was discovered at 726 Washington Street.
  • Hoboken is home to the first Blimpie's restaurant on Washington St.
  • Alfred Stieglitz's birthplace is just west of Sinatra Park on the waterfront.
  • Playboy Penguin , a character in the Bugs Bunny cartoons "Frigid Hare" and "8 Ball Bunny," was said to have been born in Hoboken.

Local attractions


Looking north towards Church Square Park's gazebo and playground.
Looking north towards Church Square Park's gazebo and playground.

Born in Hoboken

Active in Hoboken

External links

Last updated: 11-07-2004 20:56:18