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Friday, February 24, 2017

Should we embrace the new?

I like Hoboken, NJ. I really do.

I was thinking about it when I was writing about the many changes around Coconut Grove, because a lot of Hoboken's waterfront, most in fact, is all brand new high rises, including a W hotel, which was not there maybe 10 or 15 years ago. The waterfront from what I remember was low-rise warehouses and such. Now it's elegant high-rises and I like it. But why don't I like the Grove's changes? I think perhaps because the high-rises in Hoboken engage the public; each one has businesses on the bottom - bars, restaurants, stores. They aren't self-contained, cordoned off condos.

The Hoboken waterfront itself is not blocked, which is the case with most of New York and New Jersey - it's all open parkland along the Hudson River. This is the Lackawana Ferry building, which not only houses the ferry, but this a major train station, 100 years old, that takes commuter rails out into the country. It's where you take the PATH subway train from Manhattan to New Jersey and vice versa. Right on the beautiful waterfront.

I took all of these photos in November.

The reason I was reminded of Hoboken is that I never really cared much or visited Hoboken before the new high rises were built. I would see it across the river from Greenwich Village, but it only became enticing when the new buildings went in, then I took a PATH train over and fell in love. 

It's a fast ride from New York City, only one train stop from Greenwich Village, you come up in the old historic train terminal and you enter through cobblestone streets. The new buildings along Frank Sinatra Drive on the waterfront hide the old brownstones behind it, which is where people live. It's connected to Jersey City, which is right next door, which also has new buildings on the waterfront and the old-fashioned city behind it.

Hoboken is small, only one square mile. It is it's own city, with its own mayor and government and only one square mile in size! It reminds me of an urban Coconut Grove. It's small, a village, along the water, it's quaint and everyone knows everyone. I like to describe it as Green Village without the tourists. There's an old newsstand where I get the Jersey papers and they have their own one-of-a-kind bookstore and there are restaurants and bars. Washington Street is their main business street. Their City Hall is in an old historic building, Starbucks is in an old bank building. I think most of you would like it. The parks along the waterfront is where people meet and have 4th of July and picnics and town events. It has a small town, small village feel. Well, it is a small town and it has all the charm of that. The new high rises didn't take that feel away, again, I think because they are integrated into the streetscape. As you walk down the street and enter a bar or club or store or whatever, you don't realize that there is a condo or hotel above you. I guess that is a northern thing.

The new buildings along the waterfront were probably not appreciated by old timers, just like some don't like all these new structures going in around Coconut Grove. But 100 years from now, these new structures will be old structures and people then will probably complain about changes to these glass houses and buildings. I remember looking up one day from the New York side and seeing wall-to-wall high rises from the tip of Jersey City, all up along the waterfront through Hoboken. I remembered it as being low rise in the past and nothing like a wall of buildings which it is now. It all happened so fast, when I wasn't paying attention.

But this view from the old ferry building/train station, with the old tugboat on the Hudson River and Manhattan in the background, can't be beat.

I think the new glass houses in the Grove may bring new life like the high-rises along the waterfront in Hoboken brought new life. It's still quint and historic in Hoboken, but the new high rise residences brought new life to a dying town and maybe the new glass houses will do the same here. While there are new structures in Hoboken, most of it is old, very old, and it's a part of the history of the town that is still thriving.

Magnificent view of Manhattan from the waterfront parks in Hoboken.
Hoboken streets almost look like a movie set from a time long ago. But it's thriving and alive with people.

For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The answer is yes! just do it smartly!

February 25, 2017 12:49 PM  
Anonymous swlip said...

Change of heart? This blog has previously advocated against mixed use development in the Grove - often quite vehemently so.

February 25, 2017 4:19 PM  

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