Ford Times: Hoboken 1968
Everything old is new again
Millions who received the domestic automaker’s monthly mag learned there’s “A Lot to See in Hoboken.” It’s a great read. Writer Eli Waldron starts off by saying not much has changed where “The Old Clam Broth House… still serves free clam broth to all comers” and the “Manhattan skyline at night from Castle Point is more spectacular than ever.”
Waldron laments, “The breezy ferry trip across the Hudson is, regrettably, a thing of the past.”
42 years later we have it back with ferry service uptown and downtown. Waldron also refers to the PATH terminal at 33rd Street as “Gimbels’ basement” and raves about the new, air-conditioned PATH cars with “Large picture windows,” that are now slowly being replaced in the fleet.
A very different view of Hudson Street
Visitors are encouraged to venture beyond Clam Broth and walk Hudson Street, described it as “a playground for Puerto Rican families, the neat Victorian row houses gay with petunia-filled flower boxes and front yard flower gardens.”
German, Irish and Italian “boulevardiers” have “crowded into an enclave west of Castle Point: the new families Puerto Rican and Negro – are fanning out everywhere else,” he writes, using a word the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau is under fire for including on their forms.
Stevens’ late 60’s expansion celebrated
Back in ’68 the only place to find any new buildings being built in Hoboken was on the campus of Stevens Institute. Waldron describes Stevens as “dreaming glassily of the technological future.” The high-rise some say is the ugliest building in Hoboken is described as “Stevens’ pride and joy of the moment… its 14-story, $4 ½-million steel, glass and white Norwegian granite student and administration center rising from the highest pointy of the promontory.”
Hoboken’s waning Titans of Industry
If Waldron knew industry was dying in Hoboken, he didn’t mention it in the story. Keuffel and Esser, Maxwell House, Bethlehem Steel’s Shipbuilding Division and the Tootsie Roll factory are heralded as “the industries that have made Hoboken world-famous.” One by one they all closed down, taking thousands of jobs with them. K&E’s history is on display this month at the Hoboken Historical Museum at 13th and Hudson Streets.
Its factory buildings were the first to be converted to apartments (Clock Towers) and is celebrated as one of the first major successful adaptive reuse projects in America. They were supposed to do the same thing with the Bauhaus-style Maxwell House factory, but greed kicked in and it was torn down to make way for Maxwell Place.
Bethlehem Steel is now The Shipyard. Tootsie Roll is no longer at 15th and Willow. The Macy’s Parade Studio is there for now. Multinational developer Rockefeller Group owns the property and has a plan to build 40-story towers on the site. City Hall sources tell Hoboken411 Mayor Dawn Zimmer met with Rockefeller Group officials behind closed doors several weeks ago. No word on the outcome of that meeting.
“Romantic interest in the town has declined”
Rather than use photographs, Ford Times commissioned legendary magazine illustrator Marvin Friedman to paint watercolors of 1968 Hoboken scenes. The Log Cabin sits next door to the Clam Broth, The Victorian mansion south of Elysian Park is depicted (with Ford cars on Hudson Street, of course!) as well as a storefront with bilingual signs and Hoboken Terminal. Waldron wrapped up his tour by declaring, “Hoboken is still Hoboken.”
Is Hoboken still Hoboken? Have the changes that occurred since 1968 changed Hoboken for better or for worse?
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(Thanks to Hoboken resident Lane Bajardi for sharing his February 1968 copy of Ford Times, which he bought in an internet auction.)