In June of 2007 I made my first trip to Hoboken, and I was hooked. Looking for a place to move, I thought I might find it near New York, where I had spent 13 years of my happy youth. Manhattan, I discovered, was out of reach financially, and the surrounding boroughs just didn't ignite my enthusiasm.
But one look at Hoboken did it for me. Here's what I posted on my blog Finding Fair Hope after my first brief visit here:
Freeze, Hoboken! Don’t let the developers in to tear down your glorious old buildings on Washington Street and put up something cheaper and tackier. Stay as sweetly raffish and wise as you are today, with Italian restaurants, bakeries, and row houses all over. The casual observer sees Catholic churches everywhere, and a beautiful Tudor style Episcopal church (with an announcement on its board outside of a celebration of the history of Gay Pride Week) as the main street becomes residential and trees crop up.
The Hoboken "attitude" is well-known. The surprise after actually visiting is how small-town nice the place is. One short shot on the train and you're in the West Village, in New York itself, but ignoring that, the small city of Hoboken (pop. 38,000, one mile square and so tightly bound by Newark on one side and Jersey City on the other, unable to grow) has a personality all its own.
Hoboken abounds with websites and blogs. Just Google it. There is an annual Italian Festival, a reknowned Music Festival, and Saints' Festivals galore. There are three theatre companies, one producing Shakespeare (de Vere) in the park. The Hoboken Library is said to have a special section of CD's of its favorite son, Frank Sinatra.
The view of Manhattan from Sinatra Park is spectacular. Sidewalk cafés flank the fancy apartment buildings that face the river and the park. Beautiful people sip pretty drinks and see the mommies with with strollers across the way.
Stay this way, Hoboken. I can't stand to see one more important little American town lose its heart and soul.
I've been here since December of that year. While Hoboken didn't turn out to be the idyllic haven I described above, it hasn't disappointed. Of course, it didn't freeze as it was either, but then, neither did I. But neither of us has lost heart nor soul.