There’s a direct connection between the glitz of New York’s Times Square and the once rundown Hoboken, New Jersey, across the Hudson River. The link is Frank Sinatra. This week marks a hundred years since the leader of the pack was born in a tenement flat on Monroe Street in a town where ships carrying immigrants docked and ferries whisked them to Ellis Island. Most headed for new homes in New York. The Sinatra clan found its way back to Hoboken. But Frank burst into the big time at the Paramount Theater under the bright lights of Broadway. Today Hoboken has risen from the past as young professionals move in, bringing restaurants, shopping and entertainment not seen since the days of the mighty railroad barons. But the Sinatra legacy is imprinted on the town. There’s a Sinatra Park, Sinatra Drive and Sinatra walking tours. On a recent getaway to New York, I took a PATH train ride to Hoboken to see what’s new. If you’re in the neighborhood, it’s a fun Sunday with the best view of the Manhattan skyline. Here’s a look. — Jay Lloyd
It’s a 15 minute ride from midtown Manhattan to Hoboken on a comfortable subway that carries you under the Hudson River to the fabled New Jersey waterfront and it’s once bustling transportation hub that linked the Garden State with western destinations. The one-way fare is $2.75, but you can use Metro Cards that offer discounts and senior discount cards are available. So where do you arrive?
THE HOBOKEN WATERFRONT
You’ll be right in the middle of what was once a mighty railroad hub where the Lackawanna Station still operates, and near former docks that became the stepping stone for waves of European immigrants. I remember arriving here after passing the Statue of Liberty when returning from a year-long European assignment. That dock is now part of the Erie-Lackawanna Park. Have a seat on a waterside bench and enjoy a spectacular view of New York skyscrapers. The focal point is the iconic Empire State Building.
HOBOKEN HISTORICAL MUSEUM
1301 Hudson Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030
The museum is the place to begin a walking tour in this very walkable town. But first take in some of the exhibits for a throwback to the days when Hoboken was an American Transportation hub, where railroads opened the country, The Hoboken docks were studded with vessels carrying cargo to and from this vibrant port, and new arrivals who populated towns and cities across America. Catch up on how Sir Thomas Lipton came to choose Hoboken to headquarter and pack his classic tea. The museum is also the spot to pick up handy maps for self-guided walking tours including the Sinatra walk.
Walk up Monroe Street to Fourth for a look at the site of singers birthplace. That’s about it, a site. The tenement building is gone. A sidewalk plaque marks the spot. But if you’re a fan, it’s a spot to stand and maybe hum a few bars of, “One for my Baby”. Then on to the theaters where he got his start, the fire company where dad worked, later Sinatra homes and a restaurant (Italian – what else?) devoted to Frank and a lot of memories.
200 Grand Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030
If you want a photo bio of The Man, especially the old black and white days with a side of pasta, park it at Leo’s. The place has been here for over 75 years. The background music is Sinatra and the old saloon songs are prominent in the mix. If you just want to stop for a drink, you can count on hearing, “Angel Eyes.” If you’re hungry. The prices are reasonable. A $12 plate of pasta and meatballs can feed two of you.
WHAT BROUGHT ME TO HOBOKEN
133 Clinton Street
Hoboken, NJ 07039
When the lines grew too long at Brooklyn’s fabled Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, I hopped on the PATH train for Hoboken. Same pizza, no waiting. Try it. You’ll like it.
On a recent visit, the venerable seafood eatery, The Clam Broth House near the waterfront was closed, but the old rusting sign remains as a memorial to the past.
Tip: While the town is walkable, it takes in a lot of territory. Public transit buses cover Hoboken at $1 a ride. Seniors and kids under 12 ride free. And, cruising cabs are plentiful.
Even if you never heard of Sinatra, a Hoboken sojourn is still a pleasant way to spend a day. enjoy.