Documentary Play on Hoboken’s History Is Lens on Its Present and Future

Nancy Colasurdo
5 min readApr 1

“We got you out of there.”

That was my parents’ reaction when I moved from a Central Jersey suburb to Hoboken in my late 30s to pursue a professional opportunity. They had, after all, achieved their American dream moving from Jersey City to the ‘burbs when I was seven years old.

I laughed when they said this. But I don’t think I fully got the impact of those words until I was sitting in Hoboken’s Mile Square Theatre Friday night watching writer Joseph Gallo’s documentary play about gentrification called Yuppies Invade My House at Dinnertime.

While I certainly wasn’t in the first wave of young upwardly mobile professionals to move into Hoboken, I suppose I was technically one when I came in 1998. I had a good journalism job working for “the man” in New York City. I was paying market rent. I was oblivious to the local goings-on, mostly focused on easy proximity to Manhattan as a cultural playground.

Then a few major things intervened — the emergence of the internet and changes in how people consumed news meant about 60 percent fewer journalism jobs, plus the terrorist attacks on 9/11 precipitated layoffs at my corporate media employer. Hence began my unplanned new role as an artist entrepreneur, a venture by no means for the faint of heart.

Which brings me back to Gallo’s play, which at times was like my life flashing before my eyes. His own experience of being an artist, secure in rent control for decades, then thrust into the cold reality of market rents, resonated with me. Like me, he is not a “born and raised” — or B&R, as it’s known here — but he might as well be, such is his passion for the place.

As I head into my 25th year as a Hudson County resident, I too feel much more at home here than I could have anticipated and have a kinship with the B&R. Until recently, my knowledge of my town’s history was sketchy at best. But Hoboken came up sometimes in family stories. My father knew the streets intimately having once been a milkman here. My aunt worked at Stevens Institute of Technology, part of which I can see from my window. My grandmother took a bus from the Greenville section of Jersey City to work at the Maxwell House factory.

Nancy Colasurdo

Activist Journalist, Opinion Writer, Author, Life Coach in Greater NYC area. Occasional guest columnist at Six-word bio: Zen chick with a Jersey edge.