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A Guide To Its Present And Past
Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of New Jersey
American Guide Series

Originally published in 1939
Some of this information may no longer be current and in that case is presented for historical interest only.

Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003
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Part 1

HOBOKEN (10 alt., 59,261 pop.), incorrectly pronounced "Hobucken" by railroad conductors and a considerable part of the population, has three picturesque characteristics: a water front given over to commerce on a super-technicalized scale; a survival of the 'nineties, revealed in the staid solidity of the old-fashioned streets back of the water front; and a certain cosmopolitan atmosphere, due largely to the presence of restaurants and cafes where the European culture that started them still remains. Outstanding also is Stevens Institute, one of the first-rank engineering colleges of the country. The old residents and the Institute people do not apologize for Hoboken; they like it. Here they find much of the pleasurable life -however different in form -- that marked the town 80 years ago when it was a resort for the first families of New York.

The city is cramped in a mile-square area between the Hudson River and the rump of the Palisades. Downtown Hoboken borders Jersey City; at Washington Street the workers in one factory can cross from one city to the other without leaving their room. On the northern boundary are Union City on the heights and Weehawken on the narrow strip of river front. There is hardly any empty space except for the little block-square parks and the Institute campus. Factories, stores, and out-of-date tenements are crowded together flush with the sidewalk. The most densely populated city in the United States, Hoboken has evenly laid-out streets in both directions, each packed with a mass of low, flat-roofed buildings.

The shopping district on Washington Street consists of three-, four-, and five-story painted brick or stucco buildings in an unbroken line on both sides of the wide street. Only a few of the stores show signs of recent renovation. Many of the entrances are raised a step above the street level in the style of the small town Main Street.

Near the, college campus is a row of three- and four-story brownstone houses with high stoops, some of them with tiny patches of lawn protected by loose iron fences. On the northern sloe of Castle Point are handsome, pacious homes with sloping terraces and broad lawns. Built of white stone or brick in the best style of the early 1900's, they stand on the highest ground in the city.


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