Newark's Official Historian Visits His Favorite Landmarks
Reprinted from Rutgers Magazine Spring 2014 Issue
Clement Price, Rutgers Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor of History and 2006 inductee into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni, has been named the City of Newark’s official historian. Price GSNB’75, who has taught at Rutgers University–Newark for 45 years, will also chair the committee responsible for organizing observances of the 350th anniversary of the city’s founding in May 2016. To begin cultivating an appreciation of the rich history of Newark, Price, a longtime resident of the city, recommends visiting these landmarks.
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1. Newark Public Library
5 Washington Street
Unveiled on March 14, 1901, this grand building—by dint of its beautiful architecture and, today, world-renowned collections of prints and New Jersey resources, among other gems—represented a commitment to fostering a civic culture and an educated citizenry for a new century. It’s an iconic symbol of Newark in the modern age.
2. Newark Museum
49 Washington Street
John Cotton Dana, an eminent figure in early 20th-century Newark, founded the museum in 1909 on the fourth floor of the Newark Public Library. Department-store mogul Louis Bamberger financed the construction of the current building, which opened in 1926, the largest and most prestigious of New Jersey’s museums and among the nation’s most inventive arts institutions.
3. Statue of Abraham Lincoln
Essex Historic Courthouse
470 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
Head up the grand steps of the Essex Historic Courthouse, a 1904 Beaux Arts creation of architect Cass Gilbert, and stop at Gutzon Borglum’s famous statue of the 16th president of the United States. You will want to sit beside the seated president, as have scores of visitors for more than a century. The statue was unveiled in 1911 before thousands of onlookers, among them former president Theodore Roosevelt.
4. Old Fourth Precinct
17th Avenue and Livingston Street
This area was ground zero for Newark’s nadir during the years following World War II, the place where “the riots” erupted on July 12, 1967. Today, it’s a commemorative public space and still a police precinct, standing as one of the oldest buildings in a new neighborhood: testimony to lessons learned about community design and Newark’s long struggle to recover from civic unrest.
5. Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart
89 Ridge Street
The idea to build and consecrate this stunning cathedral, one of the largest in North America, took root before the Civil War and ended with its dedication in 1954. Several architects battled over its design and construction, with Jeremiah O’Rourke emerging in the lead role.
6. New Jersey Performing Arts Center
1 Center Street
The last major performing arts center built in 20th-century America, opening to fanfare, and some cynicism, in 1997, NJPAC reintroduced Newark to itself and has, to date, enriched the lives of seven million patrons, a million of them children. It’s been a critical component in Newark’s revitalization from an American post-industrial city and its emergence as the Garden State’s most important city.
7. Ferry Street
The Ironbound district
Walk down Ferry Street, lined with restaurants and brimming with the hustle and bustle that exudes the powerful presence of immigrant narratives in Newark’s past, present, and future. Make sure to brush up on your Portuguese beforehand and, later, saunter down to the Passaic River by way of the newly opened Riverbank Park, full of walking and biking trails, a riverside boardwalk, and more.
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