Thursday, June 21, 2012

More of NJ's storied corruption at the Hoboken Historical Museum


HOBOKEN -- Every resident of Hudson County knows the Pulaski Skyway. But how many know the Skyway was the scene of a bloody labor war? Or that the fighting led to a sensational murder trial? Or that legendary political boss Frank Hague was a key player in the construction of the Skyway and the first superhighway project in the nation?

Author and journalist Steven Hart will speak on these topics this Sunday, June 24, at 4 p.m. in the Hoboken Historical Museum, 1301 Hudson Street, as part of the museum's 85th anniversary of the opening of the Holland Tunnel and the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Lincoln Tunnel. Hart, a former Hudson County resident, is the author of "The Last Three Miles: Politics, Murder, and the Construction of America's First Superhighway" (The New Press), a critically acclaimed account of a little-known chapter of American history. "The Pulaski Skyway was the final link in the Route One Extension, which was built in response to the planned opening of the Holland Tunnel," Hart says.

"State officials understood that the streets of Jersey City and the roads across the Meadowlands would be unable to handle the millions of vehicles pouring out of the tunnel. The Route One project was meant to take that traffic across the Meadowlands as quickly as possible." Hart will explain why the Depression-era highway project touched off fighting so intense that local newspapers referred to it as "the war of the Meadows." He will also reveal the design flaws and political interference that made the Skyway into the dangerous rollercoaster ride dreaded by millions of commuters each day. And he will show how Frank Hague, Jersey City mayor and ruler of the most powerful political machine in America, played a central role in the story.

Copies of "The Last Three Miles" will be on sale in the museum gift shop, and Hart will be available to sign purchased copies. Hart's talk begins at 4 p.m. in the Hoboken Historical Museum. For more information, call the museum at (201) 656-2240.