Finally getting recognition for something other than cakes and traffic, Hoboken's liveliest artery, Washington Street, is now one of the "Top 10 Great Streets in America."
The American Planning Association honored the "vibrant and lively" 16-block boulevard for retaining its history and standards through recent decades of gentrification.
Washington Street joined 29 other locations around the nation on the Chicago-based association's annual compilation of great neighborhoods, streets and public places. Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square and New York's Bryant Park each made the latter list.
The selections "represent the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement, and a vision for tomorrow," the APA said in a statement on the program. Among the criteria for selection are architectural features, accessibility, functionality, and community involvement.Washington Street and Hoboken suffered from a decline in the local shipping industry during the 20h Century, but then led the area's transition to a "Gold Coast" of stores, housing and restaurants. The association noted the transformation created some problems of its own, but praised the city's reaction.
"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," the association said. "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."
It also praised the designation of a historic district in 1981, including the neo-Romanesque Engine Co. Number 2, which dates to 1880, and the 1883 City Hall.
Just slightly more recent attractions include Carlo's Bake Shop, the setting of "Cake Boss" on the TLC Network.
The APA, which includes planners, elected officials and others, also cited Hoboken for maintaining the area's livable scale by setting limits on building heights.
With the notable exception of nine blocks of 5th Avenue in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter, almost all the other streets on the association's 2010 list are located in small towns. Lawrence, Kan., whose Massachusetts Street is cited for its similar mix of history and commerce, is the only other place more populous than Hoboken to have a thoroughfare honored.