If you enjoy this site, please consider making a contribution. A little bit goes a long way. Feature dedications are available. Thanks to all those who have given.
On

Let's return to the North Ward for a tour of another great Newark street, Broadway. Newark's Broadway may lack the theater's of its New York namesake, but Newark's own Broadway, full of unique houses of worship, terrific pre-War office buildings, and historic cemeteries has plenty of history and character to experience.

Click here for location

Newark's Broadway was called Belleville Avenue in the Nineteenth Century. Like Springfield Avenue, Bloomfield Avenue, and South Orange Avenue, Broadway is one of Newark's great radial streets. The name of the street, for reasons unknown to me, was changed from Belleville Ave to Broadway in the early Twentieth century.

Broadway begins on Broad Place, at practically the same location as Bloomfield Avenue. Broadway is anything but broad at this location, in fact, the street is one-way.

On the right we have Peskin's Hardware store, the oldest store in this part of Newark. The sign is seriously out of date, as Peskin's has now been in business 74 years.

Peskin's was founded in 1932 by Simon Peskin, a painter. Simon Peskin was having an impossible time getting work in the Depression, so he decided to make his own work here on Broadway, with an appliance store.

After World War II the three Peskin brothers took over the enterprise. One brother is still the manager. Peskin's has never considered leaving Newark and Peskin's is the oldest urban enterprise zone participant in New Jersey.

Puerto Ricans are the most prominent ethnic group in the Broadway neighborhood. El Criollo is one the best places here for authentic Puerto Rican cuisine.
At 145 Broadway, we come to Ahavas Shalom, the oldest synagogue remaining in Newark.

The North Ward was never a Jewish center, so the survival of this synagogue is not something one would have predicted fifty years ago. Basically, this congregation owes its longevity its proximity to Forest Hill and the fact that the North Ward "tipped" more slowly than predominantly Jewish areas like Weequahic, Clinton Hill, and the Third Ward. A little luck probably hasn't hurt either.

Ahavas Shalom, whose name means "Love of Peace" (the same thing as "Oheb Shalom"), was organized in 1905. Originally, the congregation met in a little white frame house next door to the present building. This modest, but fine, synagogue building was constructed in 1924. It has a 1200 sq ft main sanctuary with a 135 year old ark (chamber for torahs) that was originally made for a New York congregation. The second floor used to be the Hebrew school, but now it is just vacant space waiting to possibly be turned into the Jewish Museum of New Jersey.

Members of Ahavas Shalom say that their synagogue has recovered from the time when closing was a possibility. The congregation is racially and geographically diverse. In 1997 Ahavas Shalom had its first Bar Mitzvah in twenty-seven years. Now there are several baby namings every year.

This is the Clinton Memorial AME Zion church, the oldest black congregation in Newark, going back to 1822. The Clinton Memorial church was founded by Christopher Rush, one of the first six missionaries of the black Methodist movement. The Clinton Memorial congregation spent its first few years in a building on Academy Street.

As a denomination, the AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Zion church was founded in 1796 when black Methodists in New York left the parent church over racism. The leader of the AME Zion church at mid-19th century was Bishop J.J. Clinton, after whom this church is named. The African Methodist Episcopal church (AME) church, without the "Zion," has an identical origin, except that it was founded in Philadelphia.

The Clinton Memorial AME Zion Church made history again in 1999, when it elected the first female pastor in AME Zion history, Rev. Frances Murray-Williams.

The actual Victorian gothic church building dates from 1874. Designed by William Appleton Potter, it was originally the Belleville Avenue Congregational Church. Since 1986 this building has been on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Clinton Memorial AME Zion Church has been here since 1930.

This is the St. Michael of St. Michael's church. St. Michael's church is the largest Catholic church on Broadway. Built from in 1878/1879, St. Michael's was designed by Jeremiah O'Rourke, who was the original architect of Sacred Heart Cathedral.
This is Newark's Technology High School. The Hampton Court-esque building was originally the home of the Newark Normal School (ie, teacher college).

The Newark Normal School evolved into Kean University.

This fine Beaux-Arts building is the former home of the New Jersey Historical Society. Founded in 1844 in Trenton, the New Jersey Historical Society is the oldest cultural institution in the state.

The New Jersey Historical Society had a number of homes in Newark before it moved to this location in 1931. The $400,000 structure was designed by Wilson C. Ely, a member of the society. Rabbi Solomon Foster of B'nai Jeshuron gave the benediction.

When the New Jersey Historical Society moved up Broadway in 1931 Newark seemed to be moving north. The museum was a few blocks from genteel Forest Hill, the Mutual Benefit Company was nearby, as was the majestic Sacred Heart Cathedral. However, this neighborhood slowly slid downhill after the 1950s.

By the 1990s, only 3,000 people a year were visiting the New Jersey Historical Society. The Historical Society seriously considered moving back to Trenton, only narrowly voting to stay in Newark. In 1997 the NJHS moved into a smaller building in downtown Newark. In that first year downtown the NJHS received 15,000 visitors.

The old Broadway building was purchased by the Newark Board of Education, but the Board left the facility vacant until late 2005. It is now a student center for the Newark schools.

This building, at 300 Broadway, was the headquarters of the Mutual Benefit insurance corporation from 1927 to 1957 and then the home of Essex Catholic from 1957 to 1979.

The Mutual Benefit corporation was one of Newark's oldest insurance companies,

Like the New Jersey Historical Society, this building was designed by Wilson C. Ely of Ely & Ely. The building cost well over $6,000,000 to build, but it was barely worth $3,500,000 thirty years later. In choosing such an august edifice, the Mutual Benefit company was trying to demonstrate seriousness and stability to prospective customers.

By the 1950s this building was considered obsolete by the Mutual Benefit corporation. The company seriously considered leaving Newark for the suburbs. Mutual Benefit's possible departure caused great consternation in Newark, as the company paid millions of dollars a year in property taxes and fees. Enticing the Mutual Benefit corporation to stay in Newark, and to build a new headquarters on Broad Street, was probably the greatest accomplishment of the 1950s' New Newark Movement.

The Mutual Benefit company vacated this building in 1957. Thereafter this was the home of Essex Catholic High School. Following its students, Essex Catholic left in Newark in 1979 for East Orange.

Today this building houses two nursing homes, one for AIDS patients and another for the general elderly.

Here are the glorious gothic gates of Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. Modelled on the gates of Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery.

Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, even more than Fairmount Cemetery was Newark's high society burial place in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries. Inside this 40 acre confine are the resting places of the Clark, Dryden, Ballantine, and Frelinghuysen families. Seth Boyden is here, as is Thomas Edison's first wife. Interestingly, even high society familes that left Newark generations ago occassionally return here for funerals.

Like everything else in Newark, Mt. Pleasant cemetery's gates aged and decayed over the years. The gates, along with the caretaker's cottage, were repaired with state money a few years ago.

Opposite Mt. Pleasant Cemetery is the police headquarters for the North Ward. This castle used to be the home of the Rutgers School of Pharmacy. Sadly, along with the Rutgers library school, the Rutgers School of Pharmacy left Newark for New Brunswick decades ago.

On November 3, 1961 the gym here was the site of a fiery debate on the subject of integration between Malcolm X and William Neal Brown, a Rutgers sociology professor.

NJ Community and NY Cleaning Service Info: http://www.commercialofficecleaning.com/

City of Newark Cleaning Program

City of Hoboken Street Cleaning

NJ Green Cleaning Info

NJ Clean Communities

Puerto Rican heritage has a high profile north of Lincoln Street. Here we have one of several Puerto Rican social clubs/bars to be found on a two block stretch of street. Nearby the Boricua club is another Puerto Rican club called the Taino Club, after the original inhabitants of Puerto Rico.

"Boricua" is the Taino word for the island that the Spanish called "Rich Port." The word itself means, "The Valiant People of the Sacred House," but now it refers to Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican culture.

There are other signs of Puerto Rico here on Broadway, such as schools named for Rafael Hernandez and Luis Munoz Marin.

Puerto Ricans began to move to Newark in the 1950s. Most of the immigrants were jibaros - "Salt of the Earth" peasants. In the 1960s and 1970s New Jersey had the second largest Puerto Rican population in the United States, after New York.

Here is North End Street, the last street in Newark and one of the last to still be paved with bricks. Another brick street in Newark is Hamilton Street, off McWhorter in the Ironbound.
And finally, here we come again to the end of our tour. Here is the Second River, the border of Belleville and Newark. This little stream begins in the Watchung Mountains in West Orange, and flows in a generally northerly direction all the way to the Passaic. In past times industry congregated on this steam's many waterfalls. Unsurprisingly, the Second River is highly polluted.
|