Hoboken, New Jersey has been defined by figures like Frank Sinatra, the Stevens family, and photographers Dorothea Lange and Alfred Stieglitz. Sitting just across the Hudson from Chelsea and Greenwich Village, this waterfront New Jersey town has also been home to a French emperor, one of the “richest women in America,” and a famous composer. In this list, a continuation of our top 10 secrets of Hoboken, we explore even more fascinating stories from the neighborhood including a museum in a former shipyard to the invention of some sweet treats!
1. A Hoboken studio produced floats for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
For well over four decades, a Hoboken studio in an old factory produced dozens of floats for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. From around 1960 to 2011, float-builder The Parade Studio created witty and savvy floats out of an old Tootsie Roll factory on Willow Avenue and 15th Street. John Cheney, who joined in 1976, was one of the masterminds behind the studio’s success, as outlined in a recent profile by the Hoboken Historical Museum. Manfred Bass, the studio’s chief designer, would plan and implement projects for 30-foot-tall floats after illustrations on a paper towel. The space allowed for such tall construction projects, with 44-foot-tall ceilings, reinforced concrete walls, an overhead crane, and 16,000 square feet of space.
In 2011, the studio relocated to a larger space in Moonachie, New Jersey, located north of the Meadowlands Sports Complex. The Hoboken space, meanwhile, was demolished after serving as a Superstorm Sandy relief center. The new space is quadruple the size of the former Hoboken facility, at 72,000 square feet. It also features more advanced cutting and imaging technology. The new building also has 44-foot-tall ceilings and a five-ton overhead crane. As for Cheney, who led construction projects for the parade for decades, he continues to work on other projects including floats for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade.