Monday, November 12, 2012

Reporter's Photo Tour of Hoboken Terminal

By Karl Vilacoba

My visit to Hoboken for the story "Turning Back the Clock (Tower) on Century-Old Ferry Terminal" marked the first time I'd set foot in the building in about 10 years. A lot had changed, thankfully for the better.

Unfortunately, I could only squeeze in a handful of photos of this classic station in with the printed article. There's a lot to see. Below are a few scenes that didn't make it in.

I happened across the top black and white photo in our archives the other day. I don't know exactly when it's from, although I'd guess the mid-80s. (The current shot on the bottom was provided by the project's lead consultant, STV Inc., and taken by Eduard Huber). The difference is stark. What caught my attention most was the condition of the facade behind the LACKAWANNA lettering. Pieces of the bronze siding had gradually fallen into the water over the years, and it was no doubt much worse once the project began. The green pieces in the bottom photo represent the remaining original parts that could be saved.

Before the restoration project, the ferry area's floor was all at the same elevation as the area at the bottom of the steps. The floor was raised a few feet to make it more resistant to flooding. The rising water levels caused by Hurricane Sandy overcame the higher floor, but reportedly caused no major structural damage to the ferry terminal.

Here's a view of the terminal from the land side. The water in front is an old dock area that was carved out for boats. The bronze exterior on the rectangular section of the building to the right, which is now used by the Hoboken YMCA, will soon be refurbished with new pieces like the river-facing side.

A closeup of some of the bronze details on the building's exterior.

The terminal's elegant waiting room was renovated in 2004 and has been used as a set in several movies. Its stained glass work was done by Louis Comfort Tiffany (unfortunately, my camera doesn't do it justice).

The old machinery on the ceilings above the ferry slips was left intact to contribute to the building's historic industrial atmosphere.

Part of the strategy for keeping that industrial feel intact was the use of materials like steel, concrete, glass and hard woods, as were used for the arches along the ferry slips.

The original deteriorating wooden pilings were replaced by 100 ton steel pipe pilings. A challenge facing the foundation engineers was to drive in the new pilings from within the existing structure with only about 10 feet of headroom, according to the lead consultant, STV.

Two wide view and a closeup of a new steel mural along the wall of the boarding area. The green silhouettes show Hoboken terminal riders and workers from many eras. Soft fiber optic lights shine through the perforations in the metal. 

Five of the terminal's original six ferry slips were restored. This one was left as is for historical purposes.