I looked out of place as I strolled cautiously into the office space, and a man in coveralls asked if I needed help. I asked about the plaque that can be seen behind the barred fence on Sinatra Drive. “Charlie” in the next room piped up amiably “It predates me,” and he has been with the company since ’91. The property is owned by Union Drydock, which according to Charlie moved there in 1984.
The Drydock is the last vestige of the once-mighty Hoboken dockyard industry, which reached its zenith as a major outfitter for U.S. ships during WWII, servicing over 4,000 vessels. The scale was immense and the work dangerous. An oral history by Charles Kosbab given to the Historical Museum estimates 1-2 fatalities a year. The origins of the plaque are a mystery, but it continues “surviving,” to mark the Drydock and the memories of a bygone era.