#HobokenTBT: How Hoboken Got Its Name

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Welcome back to our #HobokenTBT series! Hoboken has been called many pet-names by both those who live here… and those who don’t. The Boken, Bokes, Hoboken No Jokin’ {ugh}, Mile Square, Boken — just to name a few. But can you imagine Hoboken being called anything else but Hoboken? Although the name is just as unique as the residents that reside within it, the Mile Square just wouldn’t feel like home-sweet-Hoboken if it were called anything else. Let’s take a look at how Hoboken got its name in the first place, shall we?

Okay first things first: Hoboken, New Jersey is filled with rich history. It was first discovered by Native Americans, settled by the Dutch and quickly became the bustling, cultural center that we know it as today. Once an island seasonally inhabited by the Lenni Lenape Indians, who lived there during the summers {the original Bennies}, Hoboken actually has two name origins, says the Hoboken Historical Museum. The first comes from its native seasonal residents, who had referred to it as “Hopoghan Hackingh,” or “Land of the Tobacco Pipe.” Our historic Hoboken was once rich in green rock {yes, like the bar} that was used for pipes that were carved for smoking tobacco.

The Dutch, who later settled the same area, called it “Hoebuck,” which meant “high bluff,” thanks to Henry Hudson. He was, of course, referring to Castle Point.

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It was in 1784 that Colonel John Stevens, a treasurer and Patriot {and another name origin solved}, bought the island for 18,360 pounds {$90,000}. Stevens had a vision for the land and settled on the name “Hoboken.”


John Stevens brought several inventions such as the first steam ferry, America’s first steam locomotive, and he even contributed to the U.S. patent system. John Jacob Astor’s {of those Astors} home was often occupied by authors like Washington Irving and William Cullen Bryant.

And if you love baseball, beer, and zippering your pants, you can thank Hoboken for that, too. It hosted the first official recorded baseball game at Elysian Fields, and it’s also home to America’s first brewery thanks to Nicholas Varlett and Peter Stuyvesant. The ever functional zipper was created in Hoboken and manufactured by Hoboken’s Automatic Hook & Eye Co. The first wireless phone lived in Hoboken’s DL&W Terminal — to connect to Manhattan — and Hoboken’s DL&W is the same place where the first U.S. central air system lived in.

Hoboken has been home to many celebrities, historical figures, and events dating from its origins as the Land of the Tobacco Pipe, to its present day as the Land of the {equally historic} Taco PizzaOne thing is for sure — no matter how they original named our little town, Hoboken is where so many of us now call home.



What’s your favorite thing about living in our historic little city?

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Katie is a freelance graphic designer, writer and photographer based out of the great state of New Jersey. In her spare time she likes to blog and obsessively decorate her planner. When she's not Instagramming her pups and cat, she's planning her future house on Pinterest or obsessing over everything that's happening in Hoboken.