History Comes to 'Light' in City of Hoboken
NEWARK, NJ — An illuminating night in the City of Hoboken: a fitting tribute for a transportation pioneer and a glowing return for a historic landmark high above the Hudson River Waterfront.
NJ TRANSIT today dedicated Hoboken Terminal’s grand entrance and newly restored clock tower to the late George D. Warrington, the agency’s former Executive Director who championed innovative services and ground-breaking projects, including one to allow for the restoration of the historic terminal. That project reached a significant milestone this evening with the ceremonial lighting of a replica of Hoboken Terminal’s original 1907 clock tower.
"George Warrington was a dedicated public servant who devoted most of his professional life to serving his home state of New Jersey," said Governor Jon S. Corzine. "His contributions to improving the state’s transportation network touch the thousands of commuters who rely on NJ TRANSIT each day and will help ensure the mobility of the region for future generations."
Elected officials joined the transportation leader’s colleagues, family and friends for a dedication ceremony and plaque unveiling at Hoboken Terminal’s cobblestone plaza—renamed Warrington Plaza in his memory.
"George Warrington helped build NJ TRANSIT into the first-class commuter rail system that it is today. His leadership helped improve a rail system that not only gets thousands of residents to work every day, but also serves as a national model for other cities and states to follow," said U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg. "We want George's service and his commitment to transportation to be remembered—and to inspire future generations. The dedication of this plaza is a fitting tribute to his work."
"The restoration of Hoboken Terminal was a priority of George Warrington’s, not just to preserve a piece of railroad history, but to keep this transit hub as vibrant and relevant as it was when it was built by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad 101 years ago," said U. S. Senator Robert Menendez. "With his history and connection to Hoboken Terminal dating back to the very beginnings of his career, I can’t think of a more appropriate tribute than naming Warrington Plaza in his honor."
"George Warrington recognized the importance of preserving Hoboken Terminal as both a piece of New Jersey history and as a bustling transit hub that plays an important role in our regional economy," said U.S. Representative Albio Sires. "I consider it an honor to work diligently to ensure continued funding of this vital transportation project."
As twilight fell tonight, attendees gathered along Pier A to watch the newly restored clock tower light up the Waterfront, reclaiming its rightful place among the most celebrated New Jersey landmarks.
A celebrated landmark returns
NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Richard Sarles said, "Through his tireless work and partnership with Mayor Roberts and the City of Hoboken, George Warrington ensured that this gateway to the Hudson Waterfront would be restored to its former glory. Let the light from this clock tower remind us all of the importance of making a difference."
"On behalf of the City of Hoboken, I join NJ TRANSIT in paying tribute to George Warrington—a valued partner to the City who shared my vision for celebrating Hoboken’s past while paving the way for the future," said Hoboken Mayor David Roberts. "The clock tower stands as a symbol of yesterday and tomorrow, as our historic terminal is restored to its former grandeur, but with modern amenities to serve our community’s needs."
"George Warrington was a visionary leader who inspired others through his determination to capitalize on the state's transportation assets in order to benefit our residents and communities," said Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman Kris Kolluri. "Hoboken Terminal as it stands today is a testament to George's influence as a transportation leader."
Hoboken Terminal was constructed in 1907 by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad with the clock tower as part of the original Beaux-Arts design. Standing 230 feet tall, the tower was lit at night with thousands of incandescent lamps and featured four-foot-tall illuminated letters spelling the word "Lackawanna" on all four sides, as well as four pediment clock faces and a large hipped roof topped by a flagpole.
The terminal and clock tower were clad entirely in copper, patinated for dramatic decorative effects. By the post World War II period, the clock tower had lost much of its copper sheathing to high winds, and after weakened in a storm, it was removed from the building around 1950. It was replaced by a radio tower that stood for more than half a century, until it was dismantled in June 2006 to make way for the new clock tower.
The new clock tower was modeled after the original 1907 design by architect Kenneth Murchison. The tower was replicated using the same exterior copper cladding as in the original tower, but the inner steel and aluminum structure of the new tower is engineered in accordance with current wind and building code requirements. The exterior cladding will age to a green patina to match the copper on the terminal building.
While resurrected as a replica of the historic landmark, the new clock tower is engineered with the latest fiber optic technology in place of the once incandescent lighting. This technology is more energy efficient and allows the clock to stay lit from twilight to midnight daily.
In homage to the original, it includes four-foot-high copper letters spelling out the word "Lackawanna" and is surmounted by an illuminated clock with four 12-foot diameter faces, one on each side of the tower.
A historic terminal reborn
In early 2003, NJ TRANSIT and the Port Authority entered into an agreement to allow for the rehabilitation of the Hoboken Terminal ferry slips and supporting infrastructure, ultimately to restore permanent ferry service to the historic building and create a new ferry waiting area for customers.
The project was divided into three phases. The first phase, which began in April 2004 and was completed in September 2005, included repairs to the terminal’s substructure and superstructure.
Work on the second phase, which is nearing completion and included construction of the clock tower replica, began in December 2005. It included marine construction of five of the original six ferry slips, as well as restoration of the exterior copper facade and lighting on the river side of the terminal, structural repairs, roof repairs and demolition of the finger piers and wooden fenders.
Construction of the ferry loading area will be completed in the third phase, which will include work on the ferry service ticket offices and waiting area, passenger amenities, utilities, ferry barges and gangways. The overall project is expected to be completed in 2010.
Hoboken Terminal currently provides travelers multiple transit options including commuter rail, light rail, PATH and bus service. More than 50,000 people use the terminal daily. Ferry service at a temporary facility was reintroduced in 1989, but the current project will restore service at the original ferry slips.
A visionary transportation leader
Born in Bayonne and raised in Ridgefield Park, NJ, Mr. Warrington graduated from Syracuse University and went on to receive a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Syracuse’s Maxwell School.
In 1975, Mr. Warrington became a New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) official, working to pass a bond referendum that would fund the creation of NJ TRANSIT. During that time, he also delivered the check for $322,000 to the federal government from the state that enabled NJ TRANSIT to acquire historic Hoboken Terminal.
Mr. Warrington later held various positions with NJ TRANSIT, NJDOT, the Delaware River Port Authority and Amtrak. He served as NJ TRANSIT’s Executive Director from 2002 to 2007, returning to the corporation he helped create.
During his tenure, Mr. Warrington led the agency’s project to allow for the restoration of permanent ferry service to Hoboken Terminal, with funding secured by New Jersey’s congressional delegation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
"Even in the earliest days of his career, George’s energy, organization and persuasiveness were recognized, as he was a major force in the passage of the 1979 transportation bond referendum, the first bond issue of its kind to succeed in more than a decade. That bond issue started the physical revival of New Jersey's public transit system," said Martin E. Robins, NJ TRANSIT’s first Acting Executive Director and a founder of the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center.
"George transformed the way of thinking about the Access to the Region’s Core project so that it was recognized as equally vital to sustaining mobility and the economy on both sides of the river—without his involvement and personal commitment, the project would not have made such significant progress to date."
About NJ TRANSIT
NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing nearly 865,000 weekday trips on 240 bus routes, three light rail lines and 11 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 164 rail stations, 60 light rail stations and more than 18,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.