Hoboken – A far out destination

My first view of the town came through the early morning mist and a light drizzle. Just a 10 minute train ride from Manhattan, New York, Hoboken has the flavour of a small town. Though this was the first morning in USA after a marathon flight, jetlag was still on, but Hoboken’s scene left me staring at the house on the Washington Street, fascinated. “It had a very homely, open atmosphere, and a nice human scale.”

This was not my first visit to Hoboken though. I have spent 3 years here earlier doing masters at Stevens Institute of Technology in the early ninties. But each visit to this small town has given me new experiences.

Hoboken can be reached by Path trains or New Jersey Transit form Manhattan. Ferry rides on the Hudson River can also bring into Hoboken. The ferry ride on Hudson provides the best views of the Manhattan skyline. Also the skyline can also be enjoyed from the River Drive in Hoboken, Castle Point (Stevens campus) and from top of many tall buildings on Washington Street.

Infact when I used to live here on the River Drive, the entire skyline was visible from my apartment. The famous and historic World Trade Centre towers used to be my partners during lonely times.

Hoboken has the distinction of being the site for the first brewery of America, founded in 1642. It still holds the distinction of appearing in the Guinness Book of Records for the maximum number of bars per sq. mile in the world.

Hoboken is architecturally populated with blocks of Victorian, brown stones, an exquisite railroad terminal, countless historic churches and smattering of mansions dating back to times when the town was a wealthy suburb.

I found a lot of changes from the times I used to live here. Hoboken has become a metaphor for rapid gentrification. Reality offices line Washington street, the main thoroughfare in what has become a developer’s promise land. Hundreds of town houses have been renovated, old railroads have become expensive condominiums, and old time bakeries and markets selling live chickens and rabbits now coexist somewhat uneasily with patisseries and shiny new restaurants.

This also is the town where the legendary Frank Sinatra was born. Washington street is the main street here, and upscale merchants and restaurants are sprinkled here amid discount stores and faded luncheonettes. The town’s gritty flavours are immortalized in Elia Kazan’s film, “On the Waterfront”.



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