The Daily

BETWEEN the day on which William A. Whitehead, at age 13, left Newark with his family for Perth Amboy and the day that he returned, at age 33, to live there once more with a new family, the place, like Whitehead, had come of age. The Newark he returned to was a far cry from … More The Daily

Library Hall

CONVERSATIONS on the New York train touched on topics from the mundane to the sublime, but among a few regular Newark commuters the talk revolved, more often than not, around books. One morning in 1846, as we’re told, the discussion veered from the contents of books to their numbers and distribution: shelves in some homes groaned … More Library Hall

Field work

CONVENING in January 1846 at the place of its birth to celebrate the New Jersey Historical Society’s first year, members could look back with satisfaction, and look expectantly ahead. They reviewed the Society’s achievements over the past eleven months, chose officers for the year to come–a formality, as the incumbents were re-elected without exception and … More Field work

Meetings of minds

LONG after the event, William A. Whitehead recalled how, through the 1845 founding of a historical society for New Jersey, he penetrated a circle of “several prominent gentlemen … whom I had never met before.”1 By many standards, Whitehead would have been regarded as an interloper. The men who gathered in Trenton that February worked … More Meetings of minds

Try, try again

MORE ancient and enduring than New Jersey’s status as a Revolutionary battleground has been its contest for self-definition. The state is often coarsely cast as suffering a kind of bipolar disorder, forever torn between the megacities it faces across its two frontier rivers. The nature of that struggle is of course far more complex, variously … More Try, try again

Moving Day

“DO you want,” pronounced an eminent journalist, “an appropriate emblem of this country, and this age? Then stand on the side-walks of New-York, and watch the universal transit on the first of May.” We could suppose the scene to which Lydia Maria Child referred was some rite of rejuvenation, an urban awakening to the warmth … More Moving Day

Fathers of invention

NEARLY ten times its breadth from stem to stern, powered by a compound engine that rendered the ride both swift and smooth, the John Potter offered as elegant and efficient a link as could be had between Manhattan and the railhead of the Camden and Amboy. Its passengers continued their trip from wharves on the … More Fathers of invention

Four Corners

NEAR the end of 1915, workers for the Public Service Railway Company took up positions at the junction of Newark’s Broad and Market Streets, and began to count. On a single weekday, from before dawn until after dusk, observers at each corner tallied all pedestrians stepping off the curb or turning, all passengers on streetcars … More Four Corners

Speed

ON the modern map of Newark, Lombardy Street barely registers. Except for two disparate but imposing twenty-story towers flanking its entrance with their faces on Broad Street, it is devoid of buildings.  It points to the Passaic but, never coming within sight of the river’s edge, offers only a quick connection to streetcars and automobiles … More Speed