Hoboken in Washington Post
Today’s Washington Post details the “struggle” Hoboken residents like Jonathan Gordon have been suffering with since the financial sector “collapse.”
How bad do you think the “crisis” is for the mile square?
As Wall Street Slips, N.J. City Stumbles
Home to Financial Workers, Hoboken Feels Strain of Crisis
By Keith B. Richburg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 13, 2008; Page A03
HOBOKEN, N.J. — Jonathan Gordon is a survivor.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Gordon, a longtime Hoboken resident, was working for the financial firm Instinet on the 13th floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower when the first hijacked plane hit. He recalls clambering out of the burning tower “one step at a time,” and reaching the sidewalk only to look up at the second plane striking the South Tower. He had to run to avoid being hit by debris.
“I view it as a relatively good day because I got out unscathed — a number of my friends didn’t,” Gordon said.
This year, Wall Street experienced another type of crisis: a financial meltdown that saw some of New York’s most storied investment and banking houses fail, be forced into mergers or get rescued through government bailouts.
This time, Gordon’s luck ran out.
In March, his new firm, Bear Stearns, was taken over by J.P. Morgan Chase. The day after Labor Day, Gordon returned to the office after two weeks off for surgery and was told he was being dismissed.
With tens of thousands of layoffs in the financial sector and few jobs to be found, Gordon, 55, has been forced to leave Hoboken, his home of the past 24 years and where he had become well known as a community activist and constant presence at City Council budget meetings.
Late last month, Gordon resettled in San Antonio. “I found a job — a lot of my friends aren’t so lucky,” he said in a telephone interview from his new home. He said he knows of other colleagues from Bear Stearns who have relocated for jobs in other parts of the country.
Gordon said he will miss Hoboken, calling it “a wonderful community.” Speaking of the city’s inextricable link to the fortunes of the financial capital across the Hudson River, he said, “When Wall Street sneezes, Hoboken catches cold.”
A generation ago, Hoboken was probably best known as the birthplace of Frank Sinatra and the gritty setting for the Marlon Brando film “On the Waterfront.” But since the boom days on Wall Street during the heady and prosperous 1990s, Hoboken has been able to reinvent itself as a city of pricey high-rise condos, top-rated restaurants and thriving, often raucous, nightlife — all based on its proximity to Wall Street, a few minutes away by ferry or PATH commuter trains. Its most famous resident now is New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
Just across the river from Manhattan, Hoboken was often jokingly called New York’s sixth borough. But being tied so closely to Wall Street also carries huge vulnerabilities, as Hoboken saw with the 2001 terrorist attacks. Hoboken was the area, by Zip code, to suffer the largest number of casualties per capita, with 57 residents killed. (The official numbers vary because some Hoboken victims carried driver’s licenses from other jurisdictions.)
“We’re a city which is a square mile with 50,000 people living in it, but in the greater metropolitan area, we had the largest loss of life in the world,” said Hoboken Mayor David Roberts, who was mayor on Sept. 11, 2001. “That’s not a laudable statistic,” he said. “It’s just a fact of life that we are so linked to the city. We are so linked to Wall Street, and so many of our people are in the financial industry.”
See the rest of the article at the Washington Post.