Hoboken, New Jersey: Washington Street

Summary

Vibrant and lively, Washington Street's unique sense of place is defined by its seemingly endless row of historic storefronts pressed against the edge of sidewalks; cross street intersections affording views of the Hudson River and New York City skyline;  concentration of popular restaurants, lounges, shops, and boutiques; and connections to  the Hoboken waterfront.

Designated Area

Sixteen blocks between 15th Street to the north and Observer Highway to the south.

Washington Street's historic buildings are complemented by 19th-century style lampposts and street clocks. Pedestrians enjoy wide, brick sidewalks and street-side dining. Photo courtesy Jerry Lore.

Planning Excellence

Vibrant and lively, Washington Street's unique sense of place is defined by its seemingly endless row of historic storefronts pressed against the edge of sidewalks; cross street intersections affording views of the Hudson River and New York City skyline;  concentration of popular restaurants, lounges, shops, and boutiques; and connections to  the Hoboken waterfront.

At one time a major warehouse and shipping port, Hoboken suffered major economic turmoil in the 1960s. With the introduction of containerized cargo, the city's undersized warehouses became obsolete and business activity along Washington Street declined.

A wave of new residents — young urban professionals from Manhattan — helped restore life to Washington Street in the 1980s and kept its storefronts open. Hoboken's discovery by so-called "yuppies" led to escalating real estate values and in some places long-term residents being priced out of their homes. In response, Hoboken's city council approved an ordinance in 1988 requiring affordable housing, including units along Washington Street, to be made available to low- and middle-income and disabled households.

The city also took steps to keep the historic character of Washington Street and adjoining blocks intact, creating a downtown historic district in 1981 and approving building height restrictions in 1982. Streetscape improvements also were made, including 19th century-style lamp posts and street clocks.

The annual St. Patrick's Day Parade is one of many occasions where Washington Street closes to car traffic for festivals, parades and celebrations. Photo courtesy Jerry Lore.

Defining Characteristics, Features

Historic Heritage

  • Southern Hoboken Historic District (city designated, 1981) includes both sides of Washington Street from Observer Highway to 15th Street
  • Hoboken City Hall (1883), 94 Washington St., added to National Register in 1976; designed by Franklin George; Second Empire structure with Beaux Art Classicism exterior
  • Yellow Flats (1890), 1200-1206 Washington St., built by Hoboken Land and Improvement Company; added to National Register 1987; home of Hetty Green,  first woman to have substantial impact on Wall Street
  • Hoboken Engine Company No. 2 (1880), 1313 Washington St., one of six Hoboken fire departments in the National Register of Historic Places (added 1984); designed by Charles Fall in Neo-Romanesque style
  • 19th century-style lamp posts, street clocks, brick sidewalks

Commitment to Planning, Design Guidelines

  • Growth in Hoboken and along Washington Street guided by original street grid developed in 1804 by city founder Colonel John Stevens
  • Affordable housing along street located at 1300-1312 Washington St. (Elysian Estates, 56 units) and at  58-72 Washington St. (Eastview Apartments, 79 units)
  • Historic District Commission, created in 1978, keeps historic character of street intact; approves all building and demolition permits (including signage and exterior alterations)
  • Height restrictions adopted 1982 to protect historic character; 40 feet maximum between 15th and 4th streets, 50 feet between 4th Street and Observer Highway

Vibrant Downtown

  • Carlo's Bake Shop, 95 Washington St., is setting for TLC Network television show Cake Boss featuring pastry chef Buddy Valestro; bakery celebrating 100th anniversary in 2010
  • Street hosts special events throughout the year including St. Patrick's Day Parade, semi-annual Arts Festival and St. Ann's Feast, an Italian tradition in Hoboken also celebrating 100th anniversary in 2010
  • Well-known and up-and-coming bands comparable to those performing in Manhattan draw young and lively crowd to Maxwell's, 1039 Washington St.
  • Some 175 shade trees line wide sidewalks, which allows for outdoor patio seating at restaurants and cafes, and people to congregate outside
  • New Jersey Transit buses 126, 22, and 89 operate on street; connect Hoboken Terminal and Manhattan; bring in visitors from all around
  • Signals, crosswalks at every intersection slow traffic, improve pedestrian safety

Design guidelines, reviewed by the city's Historic District Commission, keep Washington Street's architecture harmonious by limiting building height to 50 feet. Photo courtesy Jerry Lore.