HOBOKEN, NEW JERSEY, is a community that simultaneously enjoys the benefits of a big city and the neighborliness of a small town. Children walk to school and play on the sidewalks. Streets are swept with brooms and carts. Neighbors gather on front steps amid flowerpots planted with geraniums.
Between the Hudson River and the Palisades, the Lincoln and the Holland Tunnels, Hoboken is just about one mile square. You can walk to everything, yet the city is also a transportation hub, with a subway, ferry, light rail, bus and railroad terminal.
Known as the birthplace of Frank Sinatra and of baseball, Hoboken’s character and charm have been remarkably well preserved for over 150 years. The city is arranged in a tidy urban grid lined with cherished Victorian row houses, turn-of-the-century churches, quaint storefronts, and converted factories of faded brick.
As you take your walking tour of Hoboken, you will find yourself traveling back in time to a warm, human-scaled world that is still alive and well in the Mile Square City. Welcome to Hoboken!
Allow 2 – 3 hours to visit all the stops on this tour at a leisurely pace.
|The Machine Shop, 1891 |
1201-1321 Hudson Street
This two-and-a-half story, 36-bay brick structure is one of the oldest buildings on the Hoboken waterfront. Built by the W & A Fletcher Company, then acquired by Bethlehem Steel, it was the center of the region’s vital shipbuilding and repair industry. During World War II, Bethlehem Steel’s 11,000 employees worked around the clock on more than 4,000 ships. It closed in 1984. Applied Companies adapted the building for residential and commercial use in 1992, and donated space to the Hoboken Historical Museum, which opened in 2001.
|Lipton Tea Building, 1905 |
15th St & Washington St.
Visible the length of Washington Street, this massive pair of buildings were once the epicenter of Scotsman Sir Thomas Lipton’s (1850 – 1931) vast tea empire. Ships delivering cargoes of tea anchored alongside the building in North Hoboken Harbor (Weehawken Cove) to unload directly on to its dock. Converted to residential “loft” apartments at the turn of the 21st century, the building is now known as the Hudson Tea Building.
|Engine Company No. 2, 1880 |
1313 Washington St.
Charles Fall, architect. Neo-Romanesque.
Hoboken’s firehouses provide distinctive examples of 19th century architecture: Seven are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This firehouse was restored outside and modernized within following a severe fire in the 1980s. Consult the map for additional historic fire stations in Hoboken. Some have towers where firehoses were hung up to dry.
|Yellow Flats, circa 1890 |
1201 Washington St.
Built by the Hoboken Land & Improvement Company, these apartments were once home to one of the wealthiest women of her day, Hetty Green, nicknamed the “Witch of Wall Street,” whose reluctance to spend money was legendary. The composer and performer “Blind Tom” Wiggins also lived here the last years of his life until 1908.
|The Columbia Club, 1891 |
1101 Bloomfield St.
The Columbia Club was built by a gentlemen’s society composed of one hundred men from Hoboken and New York City. The design, with a conical tower, rounded archways, and horizontal bands, reflects the unknown architect’s interest in a style known as Richardsonian Romanesque. The gardens along the median strip of Eleventh Street are maintained by a group of neighborhood gardeners.
|Dorothea Lange House |
1041 Bloomfield St.
This four-story 19th century brownstone with period awnings is the childhood home of photographer Dorothea Lange (1895 – 1965). Her photographs are among the most memorable images documenting the plight of farmers and their families during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
|Elks Lodge, 1906 |
1005 Washington St.
Lodge #74 was founded in Hoboken in 1888 in the Gayety Theatre building at 1015 Washington Street. The edifice at 1005 Washington was designed especially for the Elks, and is the oldest lodge in New Jersey. Many of the original features remain, although the bowling lanes built in the basement are gone. The Lodge hosts a wide variety of community gatherings.
G.B. Mclntyre, designer.
|Elysian Park |
Hudson Street, between 10th & 11th Streets
Created in 1893 from land donated by the Hoboken Land & Improvement Company, the park was named after the Elysian Fields, a large field in the mid-1800s where the first recorded baseball game was played on June 19, 1846 [see baseball monument at 11th and Washington Sts.]. The name alludes to the part of the underworld reserved for heroes in Classical mythology. Marlon Brando flirted here with Eva Marie Saint in the 1954 Academy Award-winning film On the Waterfront. Just east of the park was the first home of the New York Yacht Club. In the middle of the park stands a bronze monument to World War I soldiers, designed by C. H. Niehaus (1855-1935) and dedicated in 1922.
|Stevens Institute of Technology |
Castle Point, enter from 6th, 8th or 9th Streets
Stevens Institute was founded in 1870 with a land grant and $650,000 bequeathed by Edwin Augustus Stevens. Stevens Institute consistently ranks among the top engineering schools in the country. Notable alumni include the co-inventor of bubble wrap, the designer of the Quonset hut, and Alexander Calder, the American artist (1898-1976) best known for his mobiles. The Williams Library collection includes a Calder mobile, as well as scale models of the multitude of inventions patented by generations of Stevens family members.
|Castle Point Observation Terrace |
Adjacent to the Administration Building.
At 100 feet, Castle Point Observation Terrace is the highest elevation in Hoboken, offering a magnificent vista from the Verrazano Narrows to the George Washington Bridge, with sweeping views of Manhattan. In 1854, Hoboken founder Col. John Stevens built a grand 64-room mansion, dubbed Stevens Castle, atop this promontory of green-veined serpentine rock. The building stood until 1959, when it was razed to make room for the present administration building. The bluff was mentioned in the 1609 log of Henry Hudson’s ship, the Half Moon.
|Stevens Gate House, circa 1856 |
Sixth Street off River Street
The oldest structure on campus, dating to the Stevens family era, is constructed of the same serpentine rock mentioned in Henry Hudson’s log. It was the grand entrance through which all guests approached the “Castle.” A nearby flight of steps descends to the River Walk below.
|Sybil's Cave |
Frank Sinatra Drive, below Castle Point
Sybil’s Cave is the oldest manmade structure in Hoboken, created in 1832 by the Stevens Family as a folly on their property that contained a natural spring. By the mid-19th century, the cave was a popular recreational destination within walking distance from downtown Hoboken. A restaurant offered outdoor refreshments beside the cave. It became notorious in 1841 as the site where the body of cigar shop salesgirl, Mary Cecilia Rogers, washed ashore, triggering a nationwide news story and inspiring Edgar Allan Poe’s detective novel, The Mystery of Marie Rogêt. By the late 20th century, the site had been covered in building debris. In 2007 the cave was rediscovered and cleared by the City of Hoboken. The City erected a new cast stone arch where visitors can peer into the entrance to the cave behind a protective enclosure.
|World War II Memorial & Pier C Park |
Frank Sinatra Drive, just north of 4th St.
Before the trans-Atlantic shipping lines came to Hoboken, the waterfront was lined with the floating clubhouses of rowing and sailing clubs. These were crowded out in the late 1800s by the massive piers serving the likes of Holland America, North German Lloyd and Hamburg American Line. In 1954, Holland America Lines’ Pier C had a starring role in the film, “On the Waterfront,” along with a small floating clubhouse that survived from the earlier era. The waterfront remained Hoboken’s economic engine until the late 70s, when the piers were left to sink slowly into the river. In 2008, the city dedicated a memorial to 159 Hoboken soldiers who paid the ultimate price in World War II. In 2010, Hoboken christened a modern kidney-shaped park built on new pilings above the site of the old Pier C.
|Stevens Park & Little League Field |
Between Hudson Street and Sinatra Drive, from 4th to 5th Streets
Originally Hudson Square, the park was renamed in 1955 in honor of the Stevens family who donated the land. The Civil War statue by Karl Gerhardt (1853-1940) was dedicated by William Tecumseh Sherman in 1888. The adjacent cannons are from the USS Portsmouth, a Civil War vessel that was decommissioned at the Fifth Street Pier in 1901.
|Edwin A. Stevens Hall, 1870 |
Hudson St. at 5th St.
Richard Upjohn, architect. Italianate/Second Empire.
The “A” Building was the first on campus and housed classrooms, offices, and a lecture hall. The original wood-vaulted hall, now known as DeBaun Auditorium, hosts theatrical productions and Hoboken community meetings.
Architect Upjohn also designed Trinity Church in New York City.
|Alfred Stieglitz Home |
Sea Bright Apartment Building, 500 Hudson St.
This 19th century apartment building was one of several Hoboken addresses where the family of noted photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) resided. Stieglitz is known as the principal advocate of photography as a fine art. His New York salon, called “291,” was one of the first galleries in this country to exhibit photography alongside paintings by such modern masters as Picasso and Cezanne. He was quoted as saying “I was born in Hoboken, I am an American.”
|Court Street |
Between Hudson and Washington Streets, from 7th to Newark Streets.
Court Street originally provided access to the residents’ mews or stables. A film location in On the Waterfront in 1954, when Hoboken was home to many dockhands and sailors, today it is a picturesque access for homes and businesses. The cobblestone paving stones served as ships’ ballast in the 1800s, and recall Hoboken’s seafaring past.
|All Saints Episcopal Church, 1856 |
701 Washington Street
Richard Upjohn, designer, Deutsche & Dietz, Hoboken architects. Gothic.
All Saints was originally consecrated as Trinity Episcopal. It was enlarged and re-consecrated as All Saints in 1882. The church is notable for its vaulted interior and fine stained glass. It serves an active Episcopalian congregation today, hosting a school and many other activities.
|Stephen Collins Foster House |
601 Bloomfield St.
The composer (1826-1864) lived here in 1854, when “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair” was published. “Hoboken” is penned on the original manuscript. This typical pre-Civil War brick dwelling is Foster’s only known intact residence. Some other compositions by Foster are “Camptown Races,” “Oh! Susanna,” and “Beautiful Dreamer.”
|Willow Terrace, circa 1885-1886 |
Between Willow Avenue and Clinton Street from 6th to 7th St.
In this usage “terraces” are streets serving a section of row houses. These compact homes (12 feet six inches wide!) were commissioned by Martha Bayard Stevens for workers at Stevens Castle and the Hoboken Land & Improvement Company. They were patterned after similar workers’ houses she had seen on a trip to Scotland.
|Church of the Holy Innocents, 1874 |
Willow Avenue at 6th St.
Edward Tuckerman Potter and Henry Vaughn, architects. High Victorian Gothic.
Dedicated to Julia Stevens, daughter of Martha Bayard and Edwin Augustus Stevens, who died in Rome of typhoid fever at age seven. Built to serve German and Irish immigrants, it did not charge a pew fee to be seated, unlike the norm for the time. Potter’s banded arches emphasize the polychromatic exterior of brownstone and white and red sandstone. The choir was added in 1913 and the baptistery in 1932. Though no longer in use for religious services, the former Episcopal church is used occasionally for community events.
|Free Public Library, 1897 |
500 Park Ave.
When the library was dedicated in 1897, it became the third library in New Jersey. It is built of Indiana limestone, with upper stories in yellow brick and terracotta. The copper dome was recently restored. Built on land donated by the Stevens family, it was designed by local architect, Albert Beyer.
|Church Square Park |
Bordered by 4th, 5th, Garden St., and Willow Ave.
A popular park for young and old, Church Square Park, in the heart of Hoboken, is sited on land given to the city by Colonel John Stevens in 1804. The park plan dates from 1873. Near Willow Avenue is the 1891 Firefighters’ Monument by Caspar Buberl (1834-1899) with Taps, a canine mascot, buried at its base. Across the park, the Four Chaplains Monument by Arturo Dazzi (1881-1966) honors clergy of differing faiths who died while attending the crew of the torpedoed USS Dorchester in WW II. The pedestal commemorates Marconi, the inventor of the wireless.
|Our Lady of Grace Church, circa 1878 |
400 Willow Ave.
Francis George Himpler, Architect. German Gothic.
Once the largest Roman Catholic Church in New Jersey, Our Lady of Grace Church was constructed after a design by Himpler, who also designed City Hall. Gifts of paintings and ceremonial vessels were sent by Victor Emmanuel, Emperor Napoleon III, and other Italian and French royalty when the church was dedicated. These and the lavish interior decorations by George Ashdown Audsley (1839-1925) are gone, but Audsley’s pipe organ, circa 1899 and designed especially for the chuch, plays on.
|Keuffel & Esser Complex, 1906 |
Third St. at Grand and Adams Streets
In 1867 William J.D. Keuffel and Herman Esser, Hoboken residents, began importing precision instruments for the architectural, engineering, and drafting professions. Their products were used in planning the Brooklyn Bridge and Panama Canal. In 1880, they built their first factory on 3rd Street in Hoboken, between Adams and Grand Streets, then expanded to another factory building across Adams Street in 1885. In 1891 their factory produced the first slide rule manufactured in the United States. They supplied Navy periscopes in WWI and Army range-finders in WWII. Spiders were raised in the basement to supply web filaments as cross hairs for gun sights. The West Plant, known locally as the Clock Tower Building, was built of reinforced concrete in 1907 to replace a prior structure that burned. In the mid-1960s Keuffel & Esser relocated. In 1975 the building was converted to housing and has been cited as a premiere example of adaptive reuse of an industrial building.
|United Synagogue Of Hoboken, 1915 |
115 Park Ave.
Max J. Beyer, architect (son of Albert Beyer, architect of Hoboken’s Public Library).
Perhaps modeled after the Great Synagogue of Frankfort-am- Main, Germany, this building was dedicated in 1915 as the Star of Israel Synagogue. With arched entranceways and windows, third-floor portal windows, and two copper domes, its style combines the Moorish and Gothic Revival architecture popular before World War I. Meticulously restored in 2011, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and today serves the very active congregation of the United Synagogue of Hoboken.
|Frank Sinatra Post Office, 1933 |
89 River St.
Art Deco style.
This art deco-style building was commissioned by the Federal Government, James A. Wetmore, supervising architect. The exterior and lobby remain unchanged since its opening day. In 2003 it was officially named the Frank Sinatra Post Office in recognition of his contribution to the country. Frank Sinatra was born in 1915 in Hoboken at 415 Monroe Street and lived in Hoboken for the first nineteen years of his life.
|World War I Memorial, 1925 |
First Street at Pier A
Dedicated by Knights of Columbus in 1925, this World War I American Expeditionary Forces Memorial honors the two million troops who passed through Hoboken, the official port of embarkation. The slogan, “Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken by Christmas,” became popular after a speech by General John J. Pershing as the war entered its final campaign. President Woodrow Wilson sailed from Hoboken in 1918 to attend the Paris Peace Conference, where he proposed the formation of the League of Nations. Since 1999, Pier A has become a popular recreation space with families, fishermen, office workers on lunch, and hosts summertime festivals, fireworks, and movies under the stars.
|Hoboken Land & Improvement Office, 1889 |
1 Newark St.
Charles Fall, architect. Myles Tierney, mason.
The Stevens family’s real estate holding corporation oversaw the city’s street plan and development of its residential, business, and industrial areas. The building is notable for its exceptional brickwork, with recessed panels and contrasting mortar. The Stevens family requested the central staircase resemble a ferry’s staircase. High up on the south facade (in the shady cobblestone “private” walkway) is a terra cotta clock surrounded by sea motifs and the company’s monogram. The two sets of narrow-gauge railroad tracks on the south side are remnants of Hoboken’s once extensive trolley system.
|Erie-Lackawanna Terminal, 1907 |
Kenneth Murchison, architect; Lincoln Bush, engineer. Beaux Arts style.
The entire structure is built over water on a steel and concrete foundation. On a typical weekday, 60,000 commuters use the facility to connect across five modes of transportation: Six ferry slips and fourteen commuter rail lines sit atop the underground PATH train, with an adjacent shed that once accommodated an extensive trolley system, long since replaced with buses and the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system. The individually roofed train shed arches are an innovative design by Bush. The entire structure is copper-sheathed. The original clock tower, destroyed by a storm in the early 1950s, was restored in 2008. A statue of Sam Sloan (1817-1907), president of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad, stands watch across the parking lot.