While walking on the heavily shaded path at Elysian Park on Hudson Street in the uptown section of Hoboken, you may not realize that more than 150 years ago, the first organized baseball game was played nearby.
The story is that the New York Knickerbocker Club, led by Alexander Cartwright, rented a property in Hoboken called Elysian Fields to play baseball for $75 a year. The Fields were more than double the size of the current park. The first recorded organized game was June 19, 1846. The Knickerbockers were defeated by the New York Baseball Club 23-1. Word spread about the game, and magazines and newspapers began to announce Elysian Fields as the birthplace of organized baseball. Hoboken was on the map.
The park got its name from city officials. Elysian Fields is the name given to any place or state of perfect happiness or paradise. In 1893 the Fields were split up for various purposes, and Elysian Park, the recreational area we know today, was created. Part of the land was donated by Hoboken's Stevens family, and the rest was purchased by the city, according to Hoboken Historical Museum Director Bob Foster. The park has seen its share of facelifts throughout the years, and it has been preserved regardless of the urban development which keeps occurring around it.
"It's a great shaded park where many families take their kids," Foster said.
There's a large statue in the middle of the park serving as a memorial for World War I veterans. The name of Hoboken soldiers are etched on the base. A regular-size basketball court is next to the statue and more than a dozen benches surround a small dog run and a children's play area. The New York City skyline offers a terrific backdrop to the serene park.
During a recent visit, Hobokenite Cynthia Leon walked her infant daughter Carla near the basketball area. The personable but camera shy Leon frequents the park often when is warm out.
"I love coming here. I like the view, and I get to enjoy a quiet part of Hoboken with my daughter," Leon said.
In 1954, scenes from On the Waterfront, the classic Hollywood film starring Marlon Brando, were filmed in the park. The film went on to win eight Academy Awards.
Elysian Park is located on Hudson Street between 10th and 11th streets in Hoboken. It closes at night and residents are warned to "use the dog run at your own risk."
The Current will be visiting a different Hudson County park each week throughout the summer. Do you have a favorite park in Hudson County? Let us know by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. q