More than 125 years apart, two Washington Street buildings hosted schools dedicated to feats of refined athletic skill: The Hoboken Turn Verein, a German gymnastic club, which was established at 1st and Washington Streets during the first wave of German immigration to the city in the 1850s, and Hoboken Circus Arts, which was founded in 1979 in the Lining Store building, 412 Washington Street, by two former stars of the Moscow State Circus.
Later in the century, from 1979 to 1981, Hoboken Circus Arts founders Nina Krasavina and Gregory Fedin offered students instruction on juggling, clowning, tumbling, trapeze, ballet, and high-wire walking, among other circus skills, on the second floor of the Lining Store building. The space boasted ceilings of more than 20 feet high, making it suitable for acts that might involve riding a unicycle across a tightrope or creating human pyramids.
And of course there’s Hoboken’s YMCA, established at 1301 Washington Street in 1927. It was established to provide housing to men of modest means and to offer recreational programs, including swimming and track, to children and adults citywide.
The Hoboken Turn Verein (“turners”) began as a club for men to receive instruction in gymnastics and to promote German culture. By the 1860s, women’s auxiliaries had formed. The club continued into the years just before the First World War.
Washington Street has also been home to more conventional sports. Politics—one form of local sport—was twinned with bowling at 327 Washington Street. In the 1920s, the Hoboken Republican Club had a few lanes there; when the Hoboken Democratic Club took over the space in the 1930s, they bowled the same lanes. Evidence of their recreational pursuits was uncovered in 2020, when renovators took up the floorboards and discovered the lanes and dozens of duck pins (shorter, heavier pins that were set by hand by “pin boys”.)