A Farewell to Flanagan’s Hoboken

This Sunday, July 2, the Museum wraps up our exhibition of photographs by Michael Flanagan, “Hoboken People and Places, 1976 – 1994.” Popular not only with people who have lived in the Mile Square City since the 1970s, the exhibit has fascinated newer arrivals and visitors with its beautiful, unsentimental views of Hoboken from three decades ago, on the verge of its transformation from a working-class, industrial city into a largely upscale residential community peopled with young professionals.

The gifted photographer had an eye for telling details: the quirky window displays that made each mom-and-pop shop unique; the character etched into the faces of the de facto “mayors” of different blocks; the exuberance of Hoboken’s most colorful official Mayor, Tom Vezzetti; the graffiti-covered equipment on the city’s neglected playgrounds; the stark remnants of Hoboken’s once-bustling shipping piers; the signs of the wrenching gentrification that transformed Hoboken, including the burned-out shells of apartment buildings that would be converted to condos, and portraits of the people and buildings that make Hoboken such an interesting place to live.

Museum staff members pitched in by helping to plan programs inspired by the time period covered in the exhibition:

  • Education Curator Maria Lara hosted a weekly film screening in April featuring Nora Jacobson’s documentaries, culminating with an evening of Q&A with the filmmaker.
  • Museum Associate Bill Curran led a walking tour of Michael Flanagan’s Hoboken, visiting sites he photographed to compare how much — or how little — they’ve changed.
  • Planning and Development Associate Jennifer O’Callaghan rounded up members of the “Ambassadors” youth baseball team, the pride of Hoboken for their success in the Sandy Koufax league, who also took a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the USSR in 1988.
  • Collections Manager Rand Hoppe, a board member for the Hoboken Shelter, moderated a discussion of the ongoing challenges facing homeless Hobokenites with the Shelter’s president Mark Singleton and executive director Jaclyn Cherubini.
  • My own distinct honor was working with activist Helen Manogue on squeezing into a 40-minute presentation her 30 years accomplishments as leader of the Hoboken Environment Committee and Quality of Life Coalition. Without her vision, tireless efforts and formidable powers of persuasion, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy Hoboken’s breathtaking waterfront, clean air, and the largely preserved 19th century charm of its streetscape.

Membership and Development Associate Eileen Lynch, meanwhile, hosted the first part of our World War I centennial lecture series, “Heaven, Hell or Hoboken,” and is busy planning a second lecture series to accompany our next exhibition, “World War I Centennial: Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken,opening August 6. It will focus on the transformation of Hoboken and its residents after the U.S. entered World War I and converted the city into the main port of embarkation for the U.S Expeditionary Forces destined for Europe. More on that soon.

For now, you have just one week left to enjoy time-traveling back to the 1970s-80s through the lens of Michael Flanagan. We are open six days a week, until 7 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. If you can’t make it, we are offering a commemorative book of featured photographs in our gift shop!

— Melissa Abernathy, Communications & Volunteer Manager