ILLUMINATING HISTORY: Hoboken’s Iconic Clam Broth House Sign Lights Up Once Again
Those with a keen eye may have noticed a new light on the Hoboken skyscape—well, not really “new,” but new to many who had never seen it lit up before.
The world-famous Clam Broth House sign on the corner of River and Hudson—which had served as a beacon for over a century, drawing customers from the adjacent trains and ferries—was turned on once again this week.
“We knew it had been up there for thirty years or so without having been turned on,” says property owner Mario Fini, “so we took look to see what needed to be done, put in some new LED lighting and fixed it up.”
The historic Clam Broth House, a.k.a. Servanti’s Restaurant, opened in 1899 on Hoboken’s bustling waterfront, serving food, drinks, and yes—Clam Broth. It was the “bone broth” of the day, and lifts the fog off even the most severe hangover.
Nearly century ago, Woodrow Wilson addressed troops leaving for World War I from the Clam Broth House balcony, and did the same when they returned.
Frank Sinatra performed there, as his mother Dolly was a fixture at the bar. Marlon Brando became quite the regular himself during the filming of On the Waterfront. Anyone who was anyone in Hoboken had spent some time at the Clam Broth House—which later housed offshoots such as the Cadillac Bar and Boo-Boo’s Funkadelic Lounge, with the seafood restaurant playing a smaller yet vital role.
Back in 2003, however, the building showed signs of extensive disrepair—to the point that it was condemned and eventually razed. The structure that replaced it currently houses Biggie’s Clam Bar, but the sign on the adjacent building, home of REIGN Nightclub, has sat by in the dark throughout the transformation.
“We turned [the sign] back on because it’s a big part of Hoboken culture,” says Fini. “A lot of people may not know what it is and what it represents—but a lot of us do.”
The Clam Broth House was a massive draw over the years, and there’s a lot to be said for maintaining the concept of Hoboken as a destination.
“Having the historic sign restored after decades of being dark, reminds us all of Hoboken’s iconic industrial past and our connection to shipping and the sea,” says Hoboken First Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco. “I thank the new ownership of REIGN for their investment and dedication to making our downtown community a unique destination.”