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Title Article: Hoboken: On the Way Back To The Last Laugh. By Elena Testa. In: Forum, (1979).
Object Name Article
Catalog Number 2014.018.0030
Collection Hoboken Buildings & Real Estate Collection
Credit Gift of Donald M Shachat.
Scope & Content Article: Hoboken: On the Way Back To The Last Laugh. By Elena Testa. In: Forum, (1979).

Six-page article published in Forum, no issue, no date, (1979.) (Leaves as removed from publication, possibly a house organ for the Hoboken or Hudson County Chamber of Commerce or similar organization. All advertisments seen were Jersey City, Hoboken or Hudson County area.)

Mostly about the revival of Hoboken real estate and the community development underway. Full text is in notes.

Short articles on page 19 by John T. Clark, President, Hudson United Bank and Arthur Pelaez, Proprietor, Clam Broth House. Photo portraits of each man. Both businesses were in Hoboken and refer to business issues in 1979.

Text of both of these commentaries are in notes following the text of the main article above.

Notes Archives 2014.018.0030

page 20

[photo illustration: drawing of the Keuffel & Esser clock tower building]

[photo portrait]

[photo: interior of main waiting room in terminal looking southeast]


page 21

Hoboken: On the Way Back To The Last Laugh.

By Elena Testa.

In one of the new shops on Washington Street, tee-shirts proclaim: “ILove Hoboken,” “Hoboken Where Else,” or “I Was Born in Hoboken.”


They used to laugh at Hoboken, mainly known as the place where Frank Sinatra grew up. But, now they are wearing it emblazoned across their chests; Hoboken — one square mile and 50,000 residents — is springing back to life.

This city whose economy for years had revolved around its piers and bars, whose drab dock-side was immortalized in “On The Waterfront,” is in the midst of a restoration and revitalization that has earned Hoboken the status of an urban lab. Everything that is right with America’s cities is here, as is everything that is wrong.

In the past few years, Hoboken has turned an unused factory into a thriving modern apartment complex, has restored 1,500 apartments, and has attracted newcomers who have revived hundreds of gracious brown-stones. It also has a grant program for an overall facelift.

The city’s main thorough fare, Washington Street, is the basis for Hoboken’s revitalization.


Elena Testa is a freelance writer who contributes frequently to FORUM.


Kenneth Pai, director of Hoboken housing and neighborhood development, explained that Washington Street forms a “spine” that is in fairly good condition and relatively well maintained, but as you move away from it, you find “a lower quality of construction and maintenance, and you have more and more factories and warehouses.”

It is in these areas east and west of Washington that the city has carried out its major rehabilitation projects.


“Everything that is right with America’s cities is here. . .”


“We decided on housing rehabilitation after we looked at the entire city,” said Pai. “The two major considerations were that first, our vacant lots were too small and not suitable for construction on any significant scale. And, second, we found that most of the residential buildings in Hoboken were salvageable.”

Hoboken has already rehabilitated approximately 1,400 apartments, or 10 per cent of all apartment units.

In addition to the housing rehabilitation, Pai’s office has instituted a matching grant program to provide assistance to small businesses. The program has a dual objective: to improve the commercial districts while retaining their historic flavor according to established design standards. This program offers up to $2,000 and provides the services of an architect involved in the restoration.

In an effort to preserve architectural features, Pai says, “The architect coordinates rehabilitation to the structure’s existing design. For example, in some cases such as a nice brick building, we would not approve aluminum siding; cost is also a major factor.”

The Hoboken House Restaurant typifies what a commercial rehabilitation grant can do. The restaurant, on Washington Street and one of the first restorations under the city-wide program, is an attractive and popular dining and entertainment spot.

Dr. Neil Marciano, a Hoboken dentist, was among those who took advantage of the program. Dr. Marciano gutted and restored a vacant nineteenth century printing plant on Hudson Street to provide spacious offices, a waiting room, and a lobby for the practice he shares with his father.

In fact, his entire neighborhood, near the Erie-Lackawanna Terminal which is also slated for major restoration, has recently


page 22
[two photos: 93-95 Hudson Street]
caption: BEFORE AND AFTER - Above is the vacant 19th Century printing plant on Hudson Street in Hoboken that Dr. Neil Marciano and his father, a two-generation practicing dentist team, purchased and rehabilitated for their new offices. The finished product below, complete with basement office space and a beautiful skylight, is a prime example of the strong comeback this urban area is making.

been designated an historic district. Since then a number of vacant buildings have undergone restoration; one became the Hoboken Cinema, Hoboken’s first movie theater since the Fabian was torn down in the early sixties.

Arts Influx

The whole city is only one square mile and densely populated with 50,000 residents; 45 per cent are Hispanic, 35 per cent are Italian, and the rest are mainly of Irish, German, and Slavic descent with a black population of about 2 percent. And, this melting pot is still changing. There is a new wave of immigration to Hoboken — that of the artists and professional people. They are attracted by the modest-priced brown-stones, which they are carefully restoring. As a bonus, the newcomers discover and enhance the resources of Hoboken: the varied restaurants, the food shops, and the gracious architecture.

They have also helped create cultural and artistic attractions such as the Everitt School of Dance, a professional school which regularly stages original performances. Director Tracy Everitt is a veteran dancer and choreographer of Broadway and television and has taught in New York and Paris. Another addition is the Renaissance Theater Company, an actors company now in its fourth year in Hoboken. Renaissance gives performances at Stevens Institute of Technology and tours other New Jersey colleges and theaters; it was established off Broadway before opting to make Hoboken its permanent home.

Hoboken is also the home of Louis LaRusso who returned from New England to write “Lampost Reunion” and “Knockout,” and of Louis Tiscornia, who is on staff at Jersey City State College and recently produced a documentary on Hoboken.

[continued on page 31]


page 31

[continued from page 22]

Another new resident, Maureen Singleton, restored a brownstone on Bloomfield Street, after coming to the city from Lake Shawnee in Morris County. A successful real estate salesperson with the John Mueller Agency, her career evolved out of her interest in the city and her desire to encourage newcomers to the city.

She says, “When I first moved here, the people who were involved in real estate couldn’t understand why anybody would want to move here.

“But I knew others also were looking to live in an urban environment close to New York City and to restore a brownstone.”

Indeed, the stylish brown-stones and brick row houses around the city are structurally sound and have survived to tempt a new generation of homeowners to Hoboken. Spurred by a city grant and loan program that sets the borrowing cost at 3 per cent, the brownstone market has become so tight that Singleton says she has “people waiting for houses all the time and I never have enough houses for the people.”

Of the three houses she has available, Singleton mentioned that two could use another upgrading — new kitchens, bathrooms, or plumbing improvements. These two are selling for $55,000 and $67,000. The other house, with a modern kitchen and bath, is listed at $74,000.

The brownstone movement in Hoboken has been so intense that in the first five years alone nearly $2 million was spent in restorations, and that was before the big-time restorers found out about Hoboken.

According to Stapleton, “In the early seventies, people who bought houses were really do-it-yourselfers who didn’t have much money, just a desire to live in the city. As our reputation has grown


page 33

there’s been an influx of people with more money, who are doing more elaborate rehabilitation and spending a lot more. One man came in and added a two-room extension onto the first two floors as well as a two-story greenhouse, creating two very elegant studio apartments and a duplex unit that’s something out of House and Garden

Despite this influx of professionals and upper-middle class people, Hoboken has managed to avoid the problem of “gentrifica-tion” that has plagued other cities involved in urban restoration. This has been possible mainly because Hoboken is a city of one-to-four family dwellings that are usually owner occupied. When a sale and rehab occurs, it is generally a case of older persons choosing to sell to younger people rather than of minority tenants being displaced by the white middle class.

Walter Barry, president of Applied Housing Associates, said that Hoboken’s tenement rehab program “has helped stave off an exodus of the middle class.” Through a complexity of federal and local grants and rent subsidies, Applied Housing has been able to rehabilitate blocks of tenements and then repopulate them with the same ethnic and economic cross-section of tenants that were in the buildings before restoration.


The program operates much like those in other major urban areas, with one essential difference: The developer retains the ownership of the property and thus the right of tenant selection. The result has been resident appreciation, and according to Singleton, “We still don’t have graffitti, uplifted trees, or anything like that.”

Smaller dwellings are also being restored through Applied Housing. The First Ward Block Association purchased and restored two houses at 208 and 210
122 Years of Community Service
122 Years of Community Service

Established 1857 as HOBOKEN BANK for SAVINGS

Washington Savings Bank

MAIN OFFICE —101 Washington Street

10 convenient offices serving: Hoboken, Weehawken, Guttenberg, Englewood, Ridgefield Park, Lyndhurst, Wallington and Ringwood

Member, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

page 34

Garden Street; they are no available for sale by the Bloc Association at $40,000 each.

Or, transform a theater. Steve Kilneson [sic - Kilnisan] is one Hobokenite who is impressed neither by duplexes or brownstones. He is in the market for the sort of place that affords room for skateboarding and bike riding as well as for his extensive science fiction library. Kilneson and a friend who used to live in a Hoboken loft are buying the old Eureka Theater on First Street.

“I like old theaters and old churches,” said Kilneson: “the Eureka is very nice. I have a 28-foot ceiling. I’m planning to plant an apple tree inside. I want to live in the projection room and be able to put my hand out in the morning and grab apples.”

Yet things are not altogether rosy in Hoboken. Industrial buildings are too old-fashioned, and Hoboken’s lack of land space has caused many companies to move away, and the high tax rate dissuades industries from moving in. Still, Bethlehem Steel, Maxwell House, U. S. Testing, and a host of others remain, and Hoboken has instituted a program of expansion and renovation of its old industrial buildings.

In concluding, Hoboken has pulled out of federal and state wells $20 million in urban restoration grants, more than any city its size. It enlarged its police force a few years back with public grants that its crime-ridden neighbors didn’t know existed and repaved an abandoned riverfront road into a scenic drive.

After only these few years, one can stroll the river walk to the Hoboken House or Clam Broth House, go to the new Hoboken Cinema, and then retire to one’s restored townhouse.

Yes, the brownstones and the neighborhood groups and the rehabilitations have made Hoboken a modern rarity — a city that works. Hoboken is hustling and the results are showing. It seems Hoboken may have the last laugh.


Articles on page 19 by John T. Clark, President, Hudson United Bank and Arthur Pelaez, Proprietor, Clam Broth House. Photo portraits of each man. Both businesses were in Hoboken and refer to business issues in 1979.

John T. Clark


Hudson United Bank
We face the second half of 1979 with most of the uncertainties and problems which we encountered during the first half. High interest rates, a bleak outlook on inflation, and the sudden severity of the energy crunch all point toward a continuing period of economic turmoil in the shortterm.

The much discussed and long anticipated recession, unfortunately, seems finally to becoming a reality. While the stock market apparently believes that this much ballyhooed recession would be less severe and briefer than most of the economic pundits have been predicting for months, the recent sharp increases in oil decreed by the OPEC nations could cause a downturn more in line with the consensus of these economists. Soaring energy costs undoubtedly will fuel inflation, cause substantial job dislocations and slow down economic activity. Retail sales, for example, are being sharply affected by the short supply and high cost of gasoline to the American consumer.

Some bright spots, however, might emerge from the present difficulties. A general slow-down could have a beneficial impact on both the rate of inflation and the high cost of money. We believe that the present prime rate at 11-3/4% is at its peak and will either remain stable or ease somewhat in the months ahead. With the reality of an economic downturn finally reaching the consciousness of people, some of the “buy now - pay later” sentiment of the American consumer will be curtailed and, consequently, this could relieve some of the pressure on spiraling prices.

Both of these circumstances, in turn, could set the stage for an earlier-than-expected recovery. The recovery would be enhanced by positive action on the part of the Federal Government in taking realistic and effective measures to encourage alternative forms of energy.

By the end of 1979, then, we believe that the beginning of the new decade will appear much brighter than it does now.


Arthur Pelaez
Clam Broth House

The first half of 1979 was comparatively good for the Clam Broth House, despite the fact that we had to strive harder to maintain a steady clientele.

Holding a line on prices has been a constant challenge in the face of inflation and shortages of fresh fish in the wholesale market. In addition, the energy crisis had both a negative and positive effect on our business.

From a negative standpoint, it cut into our “automobile” commuter trade. However, this was offset by an increase in business sparked by our increasing radio and newspaper advertising campaign, which attracted customers from a wider area, especially New York City. Customers from the Big Apple find it convenient to reach us via the PATH system.

The revival of Hoboken, under the capable leadership of Mayor Steve Cappiello, has certainly enhanced our business, as well as that of other restaurants and retail merchants. As the city continues to grow, we look forward to adding to the more than eighty years the Clam Broth House has enjoyed here.

From an industry standpoint, there seems to be an upswing in the number of people dining close to home. We expect that the second half of 1979 will fulfill our anticipation of better things to come.

People Barry, Walter X.
Cappiello, Steve
Clark, John T.
Everitt, Tracy
Kilnisan, Steven
LaRusso II, Louis
Marciano, Dr. Neil
Pai, Kenneth
Pelaez, Arthur
Singleton, Maureen
Tiscornia, Louis
Date 1979
Year Range from 1979
Year Range to 1979
Search Terms 93 Hudson St.
95 Hudson St.
Eureka Theater
Everitt School of Dance
Hoboken Cinema
Erie Lackawanna
Lackawanna Terminal
Rennaisance Theatre Company
Hudson United Bank
Clam Broth House
Applied Housing
Hoboken House
Caption pg 20 [start]
Imagefile 249\20140180030.TIF
Classification Business & Commerce
Real Estate
Government & Politics
Social & Personal Activity
Cultural Activities