History of Newark
The city was founded 1666 by Puritans from the New Haven Colony. The name “Newark” probably derived from “New Ark,” or “New Work,” as the Puritans felt they had a new task to fulfill in this new colony. The land along the Passaic River was bought from the Hackensack Indians.
Real growth of Newark came with the Industrial Era. The town used to produce leather but real progress in this sector came in 1815 with the invention of patent leather manufacturing. By 1870 the city produced almost 90% of the nation’s leather. Another significant sector was iron and this industry grew even bigger after the completion of the Morris Canal in 1831.
The first railroad arrived to Newark in 1834. As a result, the city grew even bigger in population and its industrial base expanded and diversified. Waves of Irish and German immigrants moved to Newark in the mid-19th century. The city also became an insurance center and a transportation and shipping hub.
By the mid-20th century, Newark was a bustling East Coast city. With a great number of department stores it was also a retail center for the region, surpassed only by New York City. It also had many live theatres and a vibrant nightlife. Traffic soon became so heavy that the city had to convert the Morris Canal into Newark City Subway. At the time, only a few American cities had an underground transportation system.
New immigrants arrived after World War II, including those from Southern and Eastern Europe, and the city became even more culturally and ethnically diverse. This period, however, also marked the beginning of the decline for Newark. The industrial base was not as strong as it used to be and housing became a real issue for the city. Construction of new highways displaced many residents and further divided the city. Many residents moved to suburbs and the inner city was destined to decay. Poorer residents moved to low-income housing or “projects,” and in those areas crime rates were extremely high.
In 1967, Newark was the site of the most violent riots in its history. It is believed that 26 people died, 1,500 were injured, 1,600 arrested and the property damage amounted to $10 million in a clash between African Americans and the police. The city never really recovered after these riots. In the following decades Newark did complete some large urban renewal projects, built several important structures and brought in major companies, but it still went on to become one of America’s most decayed and dangerous cities.
Geography and Climate
Newark occupies an area of 26,107 square miles, of which some 7.3% is water. It lies on a large basin sloping towards the Passaic River and the altitudes range from sea level to 230 feet. The marshland on and around Newark Bay was reclaimed in the 20th century and used for the port and for the airport.
Climate in Newark is humid subtropical. The summers are hot and often very humid, and the winters are mild to cold, with plenty of snowfall and occasional snowstorms and large blizzards.
Newark is divided into five wards: North, South, East, West and Central Ward. Most of the historic places are located in the Central Ward. This ward also contains four universities and many company headquarters. The North Ward still has many colonial homes and the West Ward is probably the most dangerous area in the city. The South Ward is today populated mostly by African Americans and Latinos and the East Ward consists of the Downtown area and the Ironbound neighborhood.
Population of Newark
According to the 2010 Census, Newark has 277,140 inhabitants. The racial makeup is 52.35% Black or African American, 33.83% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 26.31% White, 1.62% Asian, 0.61% Native American, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 15.22% some other race and 3.85% two or more races.
The economy of Newark is today based on services, finance, insurance, industry and the port-related activities. The city is the third-largest insurance center in the USA and home of the Prudential Financial and Mutual Benefit Life.
Other major companies with headquarters in Newark include Manischewitz, New Jersey Transit, Public Service Enterprise Group, Audible.com, Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey, IDT Corporations and others.
The city hosts several consulates and diplomatic missions, including that of Italy, Portugal and Central African Republic.
Culture and Landmarks
Newark is home of the New Jersey State Opera, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and the Newark Boy Choir. Major venues in the city include New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark Symphony Hall and the Prudential Center. It is also home of the largest museum in the state, the Newark Museum, and has a number of art spaces and galleries.
Architecturally significant buildings in the city include the Essex County Courthouse, the Newark Public Library, Eleven 80 building, National Newark Building and the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, one of the largest gothic churches in the USA.
Education and Sports
Institutions of higher education in Newark include Rutgers University-Newark, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Seton Hall University School of Law, Essex County College, University of Medicine and dentistry of New Jersey and a campus of the Berkeley College. Most of these institutions are located in the University Heights district.
The only professional team that plays in Newark are the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, playing at the Prudential Center.
Transportation and traffic are very important parts of Newark. The city is an air, rail, ship and road hub and a gateway to the New York area and to the northeastern USA.
Newark Liberty International Airport is the second-busiest airport in the New York region and the 14th busiest in the country.
Major highways in Newark include the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95), I-78, I-280, the Garden State Parkway U.S. Route 1/9, U.S. Route 22 and Route 21.
Newark is largely a commuter city. Mass transit is provided by New Jersey Transit, Port Authority Trans-Hudson and AirTrain Newark. Amtrak offers service to Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia.