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Hoboken NJ. Looking towards mid-town Manhattan NYC (Vikas Bhardwaj)

Hoboken NJ residents and frequenters are young (25-40). It has a vibrant small business downtown. It’s a proverbial “stay-ground” for the NYC financial district jet-set. And from the outset, seems to be one of the best places for a family to live and thrive. So, why does some folks just don’t like how the city has changed? Or is this just an act of over zealous and dispassionate citizens (past citizens) whom just remember the “good” parts of the Hoboken past?

Public Opinion::

Here are some quotes from self-proclaimed former residents and visitors of Hoboken, sourced from the inter-web.

One notes, “…it has succumbed to the same blandness that has made parts of Manhattan (Murray Hill I’m looking at you) into chain-store filled repositories for Wall Street d-bags…who want to stay in NJ but want a “city-lite” experience. It does have some pretty good restaurants, but too many of the bars are your typical nondescript Irish Pub or sports bar filled with an immediately post-college clientele still acting like they’re freshmen and experiencing freedom for the first time.”

Another pontificates, “…so it’s either Uptown Snobbery or Downtown 23-year-old scene. Don’t get me wrong…Hoboken’s OK, I even hang out there sometimes. It’s just that Downtown JC seems to have more authenticity to it, if that makes any sense. 10 years ago, Hoboken was actually quite hip.”

Does Hoboken have a sizable populous of “trust fund types” and recent grad’s whose rent is being subsidized by their parents? Yes, it does.”

One harshly stamps Hoboken living as, “fake city living”.

Fairness::

As in any city living, there are the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’. Every city has the ‘highlights’ and the ‘blights’. It’s just a territory which is inherent to lands that house multiple thousands of human beings. It just is.

After all, a city is a civilizational excuse, with which is built for the convenience between individuals to individuals. And much of the time, like many things in the world, ‘machines’ get worn out, re-routed, broken down, re-thought and re-invented.

And some of the changes rubs some the wrong way.

Some will tell you, compared to just about 30 years ago, Hoboken was part of the coast cities in NJ to have an “edge”. And when stating Hoboken was “edgy”, it meant it had many empty decrepit buildings, sectors of the city was underdeveloped, citizens were a bit ‘seedy’, and Washington Street (current heart of Hoboken small business activities) was a fraction of today.

But this is a matter of opinion, of course. We all remember the 70’s, the 80’s and the 90’s, and when a city was destitute it was very, very dangerous.

So, as in any incorporated business (yes, the township of Hoboken, is a business entity), it has to survive. There isn’t any surviving (thriving) without bodies living and paying taxes within its walls. And Hoboken had to re-invent itself.

And how did Hoboken achieve this? By marketing its fabulous location. Just needed ‘time’ to pass.

Just as realtors repeat “location, location, location”, Hoboken was destined to be valuable as it is now, again. The city’s primary “ace in the hole” is its location, and the undeniable property values draw new customers, left and right. 1970’s speculations started the land revolution, culminating into how Hoboken is perceived and treated in the current environment.

On the Waterfront. Marlon Brando. (1954)

Marlon::

Recognize this? “I could have had class. I could have been a contender. I could have been somebody. Instead of a bum…which is what I am.”

Many of us recognize the quote above. It’s the famous line from “On The Waterfront”. A film which was directed by the famous Elia Kazan, and the quote famously said by, non other than Marlon Brando. Did you know, the much of the filming was done on Court St, Hoboken’s Railway Station, Hudson St, and in the Waterfront.

Once, famous and overly recognized shoes walked in Hoboken.

Class::

It’s part of the human experience. The way we miss or reminisce about the past, of a city, we once live isn’t a unique explanation.

We as animals have a propensity to pick and choose how we remember reality, in many cases. Certainly a psychological uniqueness.

There’s absolutely no fault in how we remember focused aspects about “things” surrounding us. Our brains are just built that way.

As for Hoboken, it is what it is. Expensive, haughty, noisy (at times), young, elite, historic, and ‘classy’.

Wouldn’t say it’s Marlon Brando classy, but it is one great alternative places to live. Just bring the wad of cash and you’re “in”.

Be classy, y’all!

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City of Hoboken (NJ) city seal (thehobokenjournal.blogspot.com)

Hoboken NJ is a (not so) quaint and high powered town located in the coveted “Gold Coast” of NJ. What is the Gold Coast one asks? The coast is “Gold” because of its strength as a real estate powerhouse for the well to do. The “well-to-do” work up and down the North NJ coast and most distinctively, in Manhattan (NYC).

Nick named “The Mile Square City” unofficially, it has come through the decades from surrounding poverty, infrastructure degradation and up to the current financial triumphs. In the last 35 years, the town (and in sync with its neighboring Coast cities) has increased it reputation leapfrogging from strength to strength.

Baseball:

To many, when someone says baseball, no one equates it to Hoboken. However, the very invention of baseball was from and played in Hoboken NJ. Go figure, right? Except to the die-hard baseball fan, it’s pretty safe to say that this fact isn’t very well know. Kudos Hoboken, however, just like the “sports announcer” who’d never had any athletic experience, Hoboken has lost its “baseball” branding, a long time ago.

Transplanting Phenomenon:

Because of its incredible location to the Hudson River, its accessibility prowess, and closeness to its bigger and more well known city across the river (NYC), it had to be just a matter of time the benefits took fruit for Hoboken. And they did, starting from the 80’s to the current times. Today, Hoboken is one of the most prized and often reviewed for dwellings from college graduates to the already wealthy. The city of Hoboken, one can say, could not have become the way it is today, with out the Manhattan and its financial industry.

Rail

Another important trait of an up and coming city or an established city is the Rail and Mass transit system. For the sacrifice of paying for the privilege of living in Hoboken, there are a complete list of mass transit options, including: NJ Transit, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, and PATH. Each one connects up an down the coast reaching from Newark NJ to NYC, and deep as South NJ and surrounding Gold Coast cities (especially Jersey City). And just like in any “financial transaction”, transaction of residents guarantees revenues.

The city’s done a great job of marketing and branding itself as one of the most convenient of Gold Coast cities to reside. It’s family friendly, business friendly, and transportation friendly. It’s a good start.

Just need some coin to live well, however.

Lets explore that in Part 2 of this article.  

Photo Credit: DailyHarrison.com

Newark. Core city revitalization in the making. But will it be quick enough?

Looking at the city of Newark on Google Maps, it has all the potential for a super city. Superb location… check. Diverse gateway infrastructure… check. Dynamic downtown large business base… check. Blue collar industrial workforce… check. Within arms-length from powerhouse neighbors (i.e. the Meadowlands, Jersey City, Morristown, NYC)…. check. Large population…. check. And hub for national and international transportation infrastructure (i.e. Newark Liberty International Airport)… check.

So, with such potential, why has there been such slow progress.

And is it too late for Newark? Will it be permanently, a slumbering giant which will never achieve its full potential- again?

“The mayor of Newark wants to set up a citywide program to improve residents’ health. The health care program would consist of a bus ticket out of Newark”- Conan O’Brian 2009.

Like any other “Gotham”, it has its dark sides and the scars to prove it.

Newark NJ‘s story is long and socially checkered. But recent and large scale efforts have been planned for the next decade. Developed for the betterment of the community, this human endeavor has driven the city to how it is now- with substantially wider stance and athletic poise.

That seems to be the first phase of the plan.

As cities go, Newark has had its ups and downs. And no other social earthquake more represented the downward spiral than the Newark Riots of 1967- historically noted as the most central event which officially helped accelerate Newark’s economic and social disintegration.

Fast forward to today, the scars are still apparent. The city has 28.4% of its population and 25.5% of families below the poverty line (that is less than $11,000 per year for an individual). City’s unemployment rate has been hovering at 9.4-10%.

Progress has been slow and the middle class of Newark hasn’t grown enough, in the past 40 years.

Directly born out of mis-management of its policies and corruption from it’s head executives (6 prior mayors identified in corruption since the 1930’s), Newark had major hurdles and difficulties. Of course, the city wasn’t the only one to be affected by rampant corruption. But it surely had defaulted in systematically trying to catch up to the levels of today’s comparable cities. Newark simply was at a stand still and “wasn’t functioning”.

Since the hay-days of the 1940’s, Newark had lost 100,000+ of its populous, ever lower production, and wider gap in income levels. Crime had accelerated at a steady pace throughout the city. Deaths had grossly solidified the public’s attitudes. In 1996, TIME magazine elected Newark as the most dangerous city in the Nation (although by 2007, Newark made great headway and was better ranked at #22). This was non more apparent, then when Conan O’Brian and Mayor Cory Booker (current mayor) was in a 2009 public “feud”. Conan fired the first large salvo stating in a monologue on his show:“The mayor of Newark wants to set up a citywide program to improve residents’ health. The health care program would consist of a bus ticket out of Newark”. Although, the two protagonists shook hands and ‘made up’, the sentiments on the ‘brand’ of Newark, was still dark and tarnished in the eyes of the public.

Despite of it all, Newark is (and still can be), a large and important part for the State of NJ– helping drive the narrative for the state as a whole…

The Strengths, Strengthened::

Despite of it all, Newark is (and still can be), a large and important part for the State of NJ- helping drive the narrative for the state as a whole- successfully developing and nurturing its middle class, strengthening its resolve, communities, and revitalizing the city’s brand. Although it can be seen as a ‘drain’ on resources, in many ways, but there’s no doubt that the history of Newark (both good and bad) is the soul of NJ.

Newark’s biggest strength is that it’s a gateway nationally and internationally, and being a hub of air, road, rail and ship traffic. For example, Newark Liberty International Airport is the 2nd busiest in NYC area airports and the 14th busiest in the US. Port Newark is the 15th busiest in the US. Largest port in the eastern seaboard. The city easily has access from major arteries, including NJ Turnpike and the Garden State PWY. All significant railways stop at Newark’s Penn Station including PATH, NJ Transit, AMTRAK, Newark Light Rail, AirTrain Newark

The city also boasts the NJ Performance Arts Center, The Prudential Center, Newark Symphony Hall, NJ State Opera, Garden State Ballet, Newark Library (largest in NJ); the Newark is also the home of NJ Devils (NHL), NJ Nets (NBA), Red Bulls (MLS), Newark Bears (Can-Am League), NY Liberty (WNBA), and so forth.

These income pillars will give Newark the leeway, which it will need.

With a renewed “Citizens First” criteria, the plan has been to move light speed forward to a newer economy, which would attract, settle, and develop higher paid and higher educated Newark citizens.

The Future of Newark::

Yes. There certainly can be a bright future for Newark and its residents.

Leap Frogging” can summarize what Newark and its administration has been pushing, in the last several years. With things being equal and the city not made a “police state”, it certainly is an energizing initiative.

The plan has been to (1)leverage the strengths of Newark, (2) benefit by strengthening the core attributes of Newark, (3) strengthen its educational philosophies & practices, and (4) supply opportunities to its citizens- both residents and businesses. The city aims to tackle these by implementing smarter land development, better business partnerships, water protection, green neighborhood initiatives, smarter energy consumption, green workforce, and public health agendas.

It’s a hearty and hefty task, to be sure. A legacy like Newark will be hard to steer on to the better rails, quickly. However, the vision is high and achievable- albeit a plan that can take decades.

With a renewed “Citizens First” criteria, the plan has been to move light speed forward to a newer economy, which would attract, settle, and develop higher paid and higher educated Newark citizens.

And the very important middle class, can return.

Summary::

Founded in 1666, by Connecticut Puritans, Newark’s glorious decades started in the industrial revolution- initially powered on the back of leather refining. It has come a long way, and has even a longer way to go. But in some sense, the city has turned a corner and out of that hole it had dug itself in from its past.

Simply, the city is getting ready for the ‘money shot’. And the public and its residents can’t wait to see the city get there.

The question is, will Newark be ‘lost’ in its way, again? Who knows.

But as a premier NJ powerhouse city, Newark no doubt has the constitution to recover (sans government corruption).

And for opportunity seekers, out there, Newark can be a great place to look.

Lets just keep the fingers crossed.

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Article by Jason Kim appears on CityJuJu.Com HERE

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