Hoboken Relationships Mural on Observer

Hoboken Relationship Mural – residents LOVE graffiti!

Here’s a bump from a story we published over six years ago – about the Hoboken Relationships Mural painted on the NJ Transit Building along Observer Highway. You can see that story (about why the “mushroom cloud” was painted over amidst “public outrage” back in 2005…)

Relationships Mural Hoboken NJ mushroom cloud 2005 and before - Hoboken Relationships Mural on Observer

Mushroom cloud art “bad” – rampant vandalism “no big deal”

I was thinking about this the other day. The sheer “political correctness” of today’s society is nauseating. To forever remove an artistic piece like that mushroom cloud sucks (you can’t erase history – “A-bombs” in fact blew up…)

But on the other hand – we have a glaring example of societal DECAY – in the form of graffiti. This isn’t part of an organized community art project. It’s the work of a lone degenerate, and not meant for the enjoyment of residents. WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE HERE?

How come “angry” residents aren’t petitioning City Hall to “paint over” this eyesore?

I say bring the mushroom cloud back – and restore that to it’s original glory.

Relationships mural Hoboken NJ graffiti instead of mushroom cloud - Hoboken Relationships Mural on Observer

Hoboken Relationships Mural


hoboken mural relationships - Hoboken Relationships Mural on Observer

Relationships Mural originally created in 1994

Back in 1994, NJ Transit decided to infuse some “artistic expression” to give character to the rather mundane industrial look & feel of the rail yards. They hired English-born artist Andrew Maishman to create the mural you now see every day on the Hoboken Engine House Building. The project was never finished, and has even been scaled-back since it’s creation.

Not what was originally planned

NJ Transit wanted to portray a theme about commuting, but Maishman wanted to create a deeper, more socially relevant image that made a statement about human extremes. His original concept was to show images of Hitler, The Tao (Chinese for “the path”), the yin/yang symbol, and leading up to an image of Gandhi (“peace”).

They rejected the idea of showing something as provocative as Hitler, and eventually the design was replaced with an atomic bomb mushroom cloud, a peace symbol, and the phrase “Relationships” instead of “The Tao,” since it was more understandable to the average citizen.

relationshipatomiccloud - Hoboken Relationships Mural on Observer

Nuclear image eventually offended the sensitive

The summer project was worked on for about five months, and NJ Transit reimbursed about $7,000 to the artists (15 of them in total). However, the artists were unable to raise the rest of the money needed to complete the mural, and it remained un-finished. It stayed the same for over a decade until some new issues arose.

During a council meeting back in 2005, Hoboken resident Mo Degennaro said that seniors from Columbia Towers took offense to the image of the nuclear mushroom cloud and demanded that it be removed. The transit director complied and removed the image by painting over it. Some believe that it was the 9/11 incident that spurred the complaint. NJT did, however, ask the original artist for approval prior to removing it. In November 2005, the cloud was gone forever.

History and future?

The Hoboken Engine House was originally built by the Erie Lackawanna Railroad Company in the 60’s. It was initially used as a storage facility, and became an engine house in the early 80’s. The over 30,000 square foot facility used to be used for repair and maintenance of train engines and cars, and even employed over 40 employees at one point.

The building will likely be coming down before long. In the past few years, all work and maintenance inside have been transferred to another location out of town. When the mural was originally proposed, the artists were told that the building was slated to be demolished eventually. No one has made any official statements regarding the future of this location, but don’t be surprised to see towering residential condos lining Observer Highway in the next 5-10 years.

You can see some related articles about the NJ Transit Rail yards below:

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And why is the person nameless?


:mrgreen: Anybody else live in proximity to the incredible noise level coming from in and around that shed – imposed on us usually ALL NIGHT LONG by our “good neighbors” NJT! – – Talk about “RELATIONSHIPS!” The seniors in my building who have windows facing Garden St. about half a block from Observer, have to keep those windows closed, even on nice nights, in order to get some sleep.

I’ve long wanted to find out how others in nearby buildings deal with the continuous roar and loud steam sounds that come from the engines being tested out 6 or 7 nights a week on the adjacent tracks just west of the work shed. Are there any noise-level regulations that they are violating? I know people as far away as 2nd & Park who have wondered where that noise is coming from late at night.

Hey 411 – No way has “all work and maintenance … been transferred to another location out of town” as stated in your article. That info must have come from some PR put out by NJT to clean up their image to soften us up for their condo plans.

BTW, who the hell can believe they actually decided to remove the mushroom cloud part of the mural because of the “demand” of one “nameless Hoboken resident?” When was the last time anyone saw them readily responding to the residents of this town?


At least the mural on the bsaeball field retaining wall at Stevens Park is decent. I assume school kids painted it.


I never cared for it. It reminded me of what a gradeschooler or freshman might come up with for an art project. It wasn’t very original in its concept and the design was banal, with or without the mushroom cloud.

I wonder why NJ Transit would commission a mural where they wanted a commuting theme, but would partially compromise with the artist and his intended theme. Couldn’t they find another artist at the time? I heard the original outlay was around $55K.


I think they should have something that fits the block it’s on: Surfers and bouncing fishing boats to ride the waves that usually form on Observer Highway after a half-hour of rain.