The country’s first brewery was established in Hoboken, a community first settled by the Dutch in 1642. Since 1993, the smell of brewing coffee from the Maxwell House plant permeates the air of this Mile Square City.
In 1784, Colonel John Stevens, a revolutionary war officer and a famous inventor, purchased an estate known as Hobuck Island, and later auctioned off lots in what he called the New City of Hoboken. Stevens had been called the Father of American Railroading and he and his sons can take credit for many of the “firsts” here. He inaugurated the first regular steam ferry service in 1811. His son John founded the first yacht club in 1844 and originated the first Americas Cup race. His brother Edwin was responsible for founding Stevens Institute of Technology, one of the first colleges to offer a degree in mechanical engineering and one of the first that required freshmen to have a personal computer.
The first international cricket match took place in Hoboken in 1859 at The Elysian Fields. What remains of The Elysian Fields can still be seen at 11th and Washington Streets, where a commemorative plaque can be found.
In the early years of the 19th century, Hoboken was a popular resort area.
Ferries from NY brought visitors to enjoy the river walks, beer gardens and boarding houses. By the mid 19th century, Hoboken was an active manufacturing center. At the beginning of the 20th century, Hoboken was an important shipping center and during WWI was a major port of embarkation for American troops.
Hoboken was a wealthy suburb in the late 1920's. Although the charms of Hoboken have been discovered by NY commuters, many old-timers worry about overgentrification. There are no tall buildings but mostly rows of brownstones, mid 19th century churches, late 19th century firehouses, and early 20th century buildings. There are also a large number of restaurants for the size of the town. In 1950, ON THE WATERFRONT was filmed in Hoboken and is also the birthplace of Frank Sinatra.
A turnabout dramatic enough to be called a renaissance began in the late 1960s when the Model Cities Program initiated the rehabilitation of many tenements as well as the conversion of the Keuffel and Esser Factory into housing. At the same time, Hoboken began to draw new residents, many of them artists and professionals attracted by Hoboken’s proximity to NY and its small-town “livability”.
Today, the renaissance continues and Hoboken is now at the geographical center of revitalization of the Hudson River’s West Bank. Change has brought the City new priorities, including affordable housing, the development of the waterfront and the expansion of the commercial and industrial base.