CENTRO Announces New Exhibition, The Fires: Hoboken 1978–1982

CENTRO has announced the opening of the exhibition, The Fires: Hoboken 1978–1982 in partnership with the Hoboken Historical Museum, Diaspora Solidarities Lab, and New Jersey Council for the Humanities from February 1–June 30, 2024. The exhibition, first installed at the Hoboken Historical Museum, features the work of Christopher Lopez, a Puerto Rican Lens-Based Artist, Educator, and Public Historian.

“The Fires: Hoboken 1978-1982 is a multidisciplinary show that surfaces the living histories of the fires and arsons that transformed the city of Hoboken from the 1970s-1980s. Through a violent cocktail of intimidation, greed, corruption, and indifference, over 50 Hoboken residents, mostly children, lost their lives in fires that ravaged the city during the era of post- industrial urban renewal. Arriving four decades after the apex of the fires, photographer Chris López, a Bronx native of Puerto Rican parentage, critically engages the afterlives of arson, displacement, and dispossession. Unlike the historic and well documented history of fires in the Bronx, very few photographers captured images of the arsons in Hoboken and even fewer scholars have studied the phenomenon. The existing archive is deeply indebted to the work of journalists, the painstaking work of community organizers, and a few documentary filmmakers who captured the terror, uncertainty, and destruction of that time period. In this context, The Fires represents the first exhibit of its kind to visit this history alongside those who were most deeply impacted.”

—Exerpt from The Fires: Hoboken 1978-1982 // A Call to Witness, by Dr. Yomaira C. Figueroa-Vásquez, the author of Decolonizing Diasporas and the forthcoming The Survival of a People. Born and raised in Hoboken, she is professor of Africana, Puerto Rican & Latino Studies and Directora of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies (CENTRO) at CUNY Hunter.