We had a phenomenal conversation with author Pete Hamill a few months ago, leading up to Sinatra’s centennial. In addition to our Frank discussion, we chatted about another topic that resonates here in Hoboken—Gentrification.
A renowned Brooklynite of the “old school,” Hamill talked about the stark changes in his own neighborhood. “Someone asked me, ‘aren’t you disgusted about this gentrification? And I said, ‘No—gentrification is better than heroin.’”
Hamill has always been pretty good at getting to his point… and he’s not wrong.
When industry leaves an urban area, you’re ultimately left with two options—development or decay.
To some, Hoboken north of the viaduct was symbolic of our city’s spectacular industrial heyday. To others, it was little more than the dimly lit no man’s land between the Spa and the Squeeze. While there’s only so much we can do about the factors that removed certain industry from our city, we can control how we respond to it.
Hoboken absolutely has development concerns—that can’t be overstated. In the land rush of the past few decades, mistakes were made, infrastructure overwhelmed, and the logistics of urban life were all-too-often left to work themselves out. At least north of the viaduct, there’s an outward appearance of conscious consideration to some of these factors. I suppose we’ll see how it goes.
As we collectively groan about the growing pains here in Hoboken, we lose sight of the fact that we are growing. Cities nationwide would envy the position we’re in—which obviously has a hell of a lot to do with geography.
I’d like to take this opportunity to applaud those who remain engaged with the issues that shape our community’s development. Many residents are blissfully unaware of the challenges we face here, but at least some are making the effort to face them. Your vigilance is noted, and appreciated.
There’s a happy medium to be found somewhere between apathy and obstructionism. Hopefully we can move forward and still celebrate our past.
Personally I take some solace in the fact that, as Hoboken’s perennial metamorphosis marches on, there’s one thing you can always count on—we still have great mutz.
Christopher M. Halleron
Publisher – hMAG