Why We Call Ourselves “NoHu”

Why We Call Ourselves “NoHu”

NOHU - what does that mean to you?

Back in the early 2000’s, around 2004, there was a movement by the Jersey City Museum to name the northern portion of Hudson County, NJ, “NoHu” – similar to the way Soho came to be known as the area in Manhattan “South of Houston Street”. Lots of popular cities around the U.S. have some kind of shortened nickname, in fact. SoBe was popularized in reference to South Beach in Miami Beach, FL. New Orleans in Louisiana is commonly and lovingly referred to as NOLA

Note: NoHu consists of the towns North Bergen, Guttenberg, West New York, Union City & Weehawken in New Jersey.

No. NOHU wasn’t created as some kind greedy realtor conspiracy to bring in the yuppies and hipsters from pricey New York neighborhoods to price out the Hudson County locals and gentrify our communities. Yes, some of this is happening right now but trust us, it has nothing to do with the word “Nohu”. Two things: capitalism + market forces. If you have a solution for this, we’re all ears. [Contact Us to be part of our next livestream.]

These nicknames have been around for a long time (Soho since the 17th Century) and they don’t take away from the character of the neighborhood or the rich history they had produced. These were loving, endearing terms that were coined to help people identity a unified culture that characterized that geographic area. Obviously, Manhattan is worldly famous and most people just call it New York City, even though the city is actually 5 much larger boroughs each with their own unique identity. Within Manhattan, there are other famous neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, Fidi (Financial District) and Harlem. The borders of these “areas” are contentious and it really depends which historian is drawing those lines. 

However, north Hudson County is unique to the American urban landscape because all the small towns that make part of Nohu sit on a single continuous grid connected by large artery streets like Bergenline Avenue and both J.F. Kennedy Boulevards, East and West (that alone is cool and unique about us!). Have you driven on any of these main artery streets from one end of Nohu to the other and you just can’t tell where one town begins and the other starts? I bet we all have. However, there is one thing that does unite us and it’s our collective identity as a culturally diverse population, deliciously worldly cuisines and densely urban developments.

 

Bergenline Avenue Then and Now
Shot of Bergenline Avenue facing south toward 32nd Street, in Union City, New Jersey, circa 1900. Taken from a municipal giveaway calendar, which was produced by the city. Right: Shot of Bergenline Avenue facing south toward 32nd Street, taken January 22, 2010 by Luigi Novi.

The first thing you notice when you visit us is the widespread latinx (yes, this is a gender-neutral term we prefer to use) influence on all of NoHu’s towns. The Hispanic population is a majority at 43% [of Hudson County in total according to 2010 census]. North Hudson has one of the largest foreign-born populations in the county, contributing to our rich cultural diversity. Cuban-Americans are noticeably the largest immigrant population, although the transient nature of this area has made the demographic makeup continuously fluctuate. You only have to spend some time in any of NoHu’s towns to see people speaking in different languages, people of different skin color and parades and festivals celebrating their home countries. 

So back to why we want to be Nohu…

Because we freegin’ feel like it. 😉 

Just kidding! We do it because we all feel like we live in a hidden gem and we want to celebrate who we are. We want to be on the map, to be written in the history books, to be a cultural destination. We should be. We deserve it and we will shout at the top of our lungs that we’re awesome! People all over the world should know what’s so special about #Nohu, not just the other big NJ cities with their own PATH train stop (we’re talkin’ to you Hoboken and Jersey City, even Secaucus has a direct NY train, the Secaucus Transfer)  If it turns out they want to move here too, great! Welcome! Just please… don’t kick out the longtime residents. 


The true solution to gentrification is home ownership, but we know it’s a long complicated topic, so we’ll save for another day.

 

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