HOBOKEN, NJ -- In its latest episode, HomeGrown focuses its lens on the city of Hoboken, NJ. This mile-square town, nestled just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, has changed much in the past 50 years, evolving from a gritty industrial center to the upscale urban community it is today. 

HomeGrown Host Stephanie Willoughby talks with Hoboken residents and small business owners about Hoboken’s past and present, and how the community comfortably blends its history with all the promise of its future. 

“Every town changes,” said Robert Foster, Director of the Hoboken Historical Museum, who has been a Hoboken resident since 1981. “Everyone wants the town to be like it was when they first grew up here or moved here,” he said. “You just have to accept that if you’re in a city where real estate is highly valued and you’re close to New York City, things are going to change.” 

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Willoughby stopped into the Hoboken Historical Museum to explore highlights from Hoboken’s past, view their exhibit on Frank Sinatra, Hoboken’s most famous native son, and discuss with Foster the recent changes that have come to Hoboken. 

Hoboken’s success is tied up with its proximity to New York, Foster explained. “We joke that Hoboken is the sixth borough,” he said. “A lot of its success is location, location, location.” 

The next stop for Willoughby was Little City Books, co-owned by two longtime Hoboken residents, Kate Jacobs and Donna Garban. Jacobs explained that the town is evolving from the singles bar scene, for which its well-known, into a more family-friendly destination.

“People love to buy books for their kids. Everyone has memories of growing up with a local bookstore or the library,” said Jacobs. “So it’s really great to feel like we are the bookstore for these kids.” 

“I think there’s a real cultural renaissance happening in town,” Jacobs added. “There’s more disposable income that can support things like bookstores and theater,” she explained. “And, we’re a part of that.” 

Washington General Store is a neighborhood gift shop owned by Meghan Lukin, who has lived in Hoboken for eight years. “Our community is very much focused on shopping local,” she explained. “They’ll make a point to go out of their way to shop here and give a gift from here because it feels special, and it feels Hoboken.” 

“For me, what’s so important about living here is you live the urban lifestyle,” said Lukin. “I barely ever get in my car, I can walk to everything I need, but at the same time, I pass familiar faces all day long.”

“Hoboken has a little something for everyone,” said Willoughby. “My hope is that Hoboken can hold onto that balance that makes it so special.” 

Stay tuned for Part Two of HomeGrown: Hoboken, which will air on TAPintoTV in July.