Today's Hoboken is a vibrant city with a host of positives. It has quality pubs and restaurants. It has elegant brownstones, reminiscent of a bygone era. It has Stevens Institute of Technology, which may have the prettiest campus with the best view in the country. It has Carlo's Bakery, and a mile-long line of people waiting to get into it. It bustles with young, upwardly-mobile professionals, many of them stunningly handsome or beautiful, depending upon your perspective.
Not bad for a plot of land purchased by Colonel John Stevens for about $100,000 in today's money.
Today, that amount might buy you an apartment with a view of Manhattan. For a year.
Or it could help you pay for parking--and parking tickets, which seems to be a major source of funding for the city government. The city is friendly in many ways, but not to cars or their drivers. The roads are old, narrow and uneven. Take Ninth St. up to the Stevens Campus for proof.
The city says that walking is easy around this "mile-square" city, but it is decidedly not pedestrian-friendly during the type of heat wave we are currently experiencing.
To make matters worse, there are no meters per se, especially on the main drag of Washington St. There are these skinny little inconspicuous towers that will ingest your money if you know where to go to feed them. That's if they are working properly, like the one at the legendary Pilsener Haus that wasn't.
At one famous pub, The Tilted Kilt, for example, there is no parking lot and patrons must use the street. No one will tell them that parking on the left side of Jackson St. is verboten and only for residents, while parking on the right side might be ok for four hours, depending upon the mood of the parking patrol.
And while The Cake Boss may be a real nice guy, his counterpart, The Boot Boss, is not and will slap a boot on your tire and pinch your wallet faster than you can say Frank Sinatra.
Which, by the way, is a great pub to visit. Nicely laid out with a spacious, yet somehow intimate, feel, the pub runs a special on Tuesdays at 5 PM called "Half-Off Everything." Hence, yours truly enjoyed a big juicy, perfectly done-to-order burger, a mound of fries and an excellent Goose Island Pale for a grand total of $8.44.
Another unique Hoboken place that warrants a pub-lover's attention is called Elysian Cafe. There's some history here as a meadow called Elysian Fields was a popular recreation spot two hundred years ago. Elysian Cafe can now make the same claim. It's the oldest continually operating bar in Hoboken--although it hasn't always been just a bar. The interior was completely restored by current owners Eugene and Joyce Flinn.
The Pilsener Haus. There's not a bad beer in the Haus, the food is authentic (especially the brats) and decor-wise, you'll think you've been transported to 1940's Austria. Yesterday's beer special was Hacker-Pschorr Maibock at $6 the half-liter. I paired it with some very good weisswurst, and I would have stayed for more, but I had had a disagreement with one of those skinny little inconspicuous parking towers.
Bottom line is that Hoboken is a neat place to visit.
But you shouldn't have to be like the guy who went out and bought a car because he finally found a parking space.