Thursday, December 19, 2019

City Council unanimously votes to honor the victims of the 1970s & 1980s Hoboken Fires

City of Hoboken will honor the victims of the Hoboken Fires with memorial at Tom Olivieri Park

Last night, the City Council unanimously approved installation of a plaque at Tom Olivieri Park to honor the victims of the Hoboken Fires in the late 70s and early 80s.

A plaque will bear witness at the park remembering the dozens who perished and thousands displaced during the tumultuous times in the Mile Square City. Many among the hundreds of reported fires occurred due to arson.

The effort for the memorial is led by Rose Orozco, founder of the Hoboken Fire Victims Memorial Project.

Rose Orozco, Founder of the Hoboken Fire Victims Memorial Project speaking to the City Council last night.


City Council President Jen Giattino sponsored the resolution.


RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING INSTALLATION OF A PLAQUE HONORING THE MEMORY OF VICTIMS OF THE HOBOKEN FIRES IN THE LATE 70s & EARLY 80s AT TOM OLIVIERI PARK AT 13TH& WILLOW

WHEREAS, the City of Hoboken suffered a series of devastating fires in the late 70s and early 80s and,

WHEREAS, Hoboken residents faced hundreds of fires, many suspected originating by arson with horrendous loss of life numbering in the dozens and,

WHEREAS, many thousands of Hoboken residents suffered displacement as highlighted by historian Dylan Gottlieb published in the September 1, 2019, Journal of American History article, “Hoboken is Burning: Yuppies, Arson, and Displacement in the Postindustrial City” and,

WHEREAS, the Washington Post featured a September 19th, 2019 article “How gentrification caused American cities to burn,” and highlighted the “Hoboken arson wave” from 1978 to 1983 and,

WHEREAS, the City of Hoboken wishes to further recognize the service of tenant activist Tom Oliveri, and honor the memory of Hoboken residents who perished in the Hoboken fires of the late 70s and 80s at the renamed Teofilio Olivieri Park at 13thSt. on Willow Avenue and,

WHEREAS, Rose Orozco, a member of the Hoboken Rent Leveling Board and resident who lived through the time of the Hoboken fires and is the founder of the Hoboken Fire Victims Memorial Project and,

WHEREAS, the City of Hoboken desires to honor all the victims of the Hoboken Fires in the late 70s and 80s.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the City Council and the City of Hoboken, that a plaque honoring the memory of the dozens of Hoboken residents who died and the thousands displaced by the Hoboken Fires be installed at the Teofilio Olivieri Park as provided by the Hoboken Fire Victims Memorial Project.

Meeting Date: December 18, 2019 


A spring date will be announced for the official ceremony with the plaque installation at Tom Oliveri Park, Willow Avenue at 13th Street.


The Hoboken Fire Victims Memorial Project committee:

Rose Orozco is the 2018 Founder of the Hoboken Fire Victims Memorial Project. She was a nurse at the former St. Mary’s Hospital and witness to the tragic consequences of the Hoboken fires.

Councilwoman Jen Giattino is the current Hoboken City Council President. She sponsored the resolution to honor the victims passed unanimously at the December 18, 2019 City Council meeting. “I’m very pleased to support the efforts Rose undertook to honor the victims of the Hoboken fires."

Elaine Ellis Thomas is the Rector of All Saints Episcopal Parish and is planning to organize community conversations, prayer walks and a memorial service. “All Saints played an important role in helping those displaced by the fires, and I am interested in discovering how the church might help in healing some of the most painful memories of those who lived through this traumatic time in Hoboken’s history,” she said.

Holly Metz is the editor of the Hoboken Oral History Project, a project of the Hoboken Historical Museum and the Friends of the Hoboken Public Library. Those efforts have allowed her to hear the stories of many Hobokenites, including Rose. For Holly, this memorial project is part of that listening and documentation of our lives here.

Roman Brice is the editor of The Hudson Mile Square View and has covered Hoboken government, politics and corruption over the past decade.