The Stevens Family
As the Stevens family's innovations and businesses continued to blossom, the town they founded grew.
Attracted in part by the efforts of the Hoboken Land and Improvement Company, big European shipping companies began establishing docks in Hoboken in the 1840s. The town's population swelled, in large part from German and Irish immigrants. In 1849, the township of Hoboken was formed and its boundaries separated from North Bergen. On March 28, 1855, Hoboken was incorporated as a city.
Between 1850 and 1860, the population jumped from 2,668 to 9,662. It again increased to 20,297 in 1870 and continued to grow throughout the nineteenth century.
Land sales and development plans were largely worked out at the Hoboken Land and Improvement Company's offices at 1 Newark Street. The handsome building was designed by architect Charles Fall and features detailed brickwork on the outside. The Stevens family had requested the central staircase inside to resemble a ferry's staircase. The HLI Co logo remains on the south side of the building in a design featuring a clock and sea motifs.
The HLI Co and the Stevens family donated land for public buildings, schools, and parks as the city grew. Over the course of the nineteenth century the Stevens family divested itself of much of the land they still personally held, which included areas between Washington Street and the Hudson River. By 1900 the family held only a parcel of land between seventh and tenth streets. While they had been enormously successful and influential in business, they never tried to make Hoboken into a company town, content to let others build flourishing enterprises on the lands they laid out and sold.
The Stevens family had launched the development of Hoboken, a city that within a century rose from a broken down old farm to a busy metropolis known internationally as a center of shipping.
History, Stevens Institute of Technology.
"Points of Interest." Hoboken Historical Museum.
Header image: Hudson Square Park, Hoboken, ca. 1880. Hoboken Historical Museum Collections.