These eight and 92 other pivotal contributions are celebrated in a new book from the Hoboken Historical Museum called 100 Hoboken Firsts, written by Hoboken Historian Jim Hans.
The work has been many years in the making. Hans, one of the museum's founders, discovered and researched hundreds of notable events before selecting 100 to highlight.
The aesthetics were designed by artist Joy Sikorski and printed in full color. It is illustrated with historical photographs, maps, line drawings, old-time advertisements, and snapshots from Hans' family scrapbook.
"The large and credible number of 'firsts' related to Hoboken brings weight to the idea that Hoboken is a perfect microcosm for the nation and is ... representative of the nation's ambitious progress," Hans says in the book. "In this list, we see an array of scientific knowledge, brave achievements, and everyday wizardry from which present and future generations will benefit."
The following are a few excerpts from Hans' book:
First brewery, 1641
"It is fitting - with Hoboken's long reputation as a German saloon/beer garden town - that New Jersey's first brewery was built here in 1641. Starting n Jan. 1, 1641, Hoboken was leased to Dutchman Aert Teunissen Van Putter for 12 years. He cleared the land, fenced the fields and constructed a brew house, becoming the state's first brewer."
First U.S. patent, 1790
"[Hoboken Founding Father] Col. John Stevens, shortly after purchasing Hoboken in 1784, began to develop his remarkable ability as an inventor and engineer. As early as 1788, he began experiments in the application of steam. In 1790 he petitioned Congress for protection of inventors, which resulted in passage that year of America's first patent law. Stevens shared the honor of receiving the first U.S. patent with two other invertors working on the steam application, John Finch and James Rumsey. The three patents all bear the date of Aug. 26, 1791."
First steamboat, 1802
"The first application of steam to a screw propeller, which would become standard on all ships, was made in 1802 by Colonel Stevens on the Hudson River. Steven's steam screw propellers, in operation on the Hudson, were the first to navigate the waters of any country, the Stevens Indicator noted in April 1893. Stevens patented his engine and multi-tubual steam engine boiler, placed it on a boat, the Little Julianna, constructed for that purpose.
"With the assistance of his son Robert, a lad of 17, he successfully navigated the Hudson River in May 1804, many years before screw propulsion was introduced commercially."
The first T rail: 1830
"The world's first T rail, used by virtually all railroads, was designed in 1830 by Robert Stevens for the New Camden & Amboy Railroad. There were no rolling mills in America to make all iron rails at the time, and Stevens thought the rails made in England were impractical. During a long voyage to Liverpool, he whittled wood into various shapes, and finally came up with the T-shaped rail that is still in use today. For a half century it was called the Stevens Rail or American Rail."
The first baseball match: 1846
"The date, June 19, 1846, has been handed down from publication to publication, from one varied source to another, for 150 years (at least from 1866), as the date of the first organized match of the game of baseball played under a regular set of rules, also called the first formal game of modern baseball. ...Since nine players on a team is attributed to Alexander Cartwright of the Knickerbockers, from his rules made before their first match game (the one played in Hoboken, June 19, 1846), it is understandable that with that new rule and others, the Knickerbockers would [lay claim] to the first baseball team of modern baseball."
The first chewing gum: 1871
"In 1990, a reporter for the Hudson County Review claimed Hoboken as the 'Birthplace of Chewing Gum,' but as it turned out the writer was stretching to facts a bit (no pun intended). 'Actually,' the article noted, 'Hoboken may share part of the distinction with Jersey City Heights.' It is believed that Thomas Adams, recognized as the father of Modern Chewing Gum, sold his new gum in a Hoboken Drug Store on Valentine's Day, 1871. Adams used to live near the corner of the Palisade and Hoboken Avenue in Jersey City Heights just over the Hoboken Border. He is believed to have actually begun hawking his 'Adams New York No. 1 Snapping and Stretching Gum,' on the streets of Hoboken and Jersey City as early as 1870."
The first ice cream cone: 1903-1904
"The first edible cup in which ice cream could be served was created by Italo Marcioni, an Italian immigrant, who, after arriving in this country in 1895, Americanized his name to Marchiony. In 1903 he patented the first 'mold' to produce 'ice cream cups and the like.' As Jane Marchiony Paretti recalled in the 'The Man who Invented the Ice Cream Cone,' published in Hoboken History, Winter 1992, Mr. Marchiony opened his 'sun light plant,' in 1904 at 22-225 Grand St., Hoboken. The same year, while he was among the exhibitors at the St. Louis World Fair, he ran out of his 'Hoboken ice cups' and asked the waffle-maker at the next booth to roll the waffle into the next best thing - a cone."
The first public air-conditioning: 1907 "The old Delaware Lackawanna Railroad Train station in Hoboken, a registered state and national historic site built in 1907, housed the first device meant to air-cool a public building in the United States: electric fans blew chilled air off of large blocks of ice through air ducts and into the public area."
The first zipper: 1913
"Everyone is familiar with the zippers, that ingenious little mechanism we probably use everyday. The first successful zipper, the "hookless" fastener as it was originally called, was perfected in Hoboken in 1913. The man responsible was a Swedish engineer named Gideon Sunback who was assigned the task in 1906 at the Automatic Hook and Eye Company's factory at 11th and Adams Street."
The first girl on a Little League team: 1972
"In 1972, when Maria Pepe joined the Hoboken Young Dems Little League team, she was its first girl player and the first female Little League baseball player in the United States. Little League officials balked, saying that girls were not allowed. The lawsuit filed on her behalf (successfully concluded in 1974) allowed generations of girls to follow in her footsteps."
Pick up your copy
Hans said that it's fitting that 100 Hoboken Firsts, written by the organization's founder, is the first book published by the museum. The museum received support for the publication from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Cultural Affairs in the Department of State.
The publication party was scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 17 at 4 p.m. at 1301 Hudson St. with the author, designer, editors, friends, and many Hobokenites who recommenced favorite firsts for this inaugural event. For more information, go to www.hobokenmuseum.org.