Recalling Parades that Started at Lincoln Park

by Nat Bodian

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One of the joys of my early childhood in the 1920s, growing up on Montgomery Street near High Street, were the various parades that took place down the hill on Broad Street, not too far from where I lived.

All of them, as I recall, would line up at their start in the streets adjacent to Lincoln Park, a triangle of land facing three streets, Broad Street, Clinton Avenue, and a street named Lincoln Park.

The Broad Street side of the Park faced Camp Street and Pennington Street. The side which was the start of Clinton Avenue faced the start of two main Downtown Newark streets, Washington Street and Halsey Street. The street named Lincoln Park faced Pennington Street.

It was on these side streets around the Park where the marching bands and various parade components would form up and then march up Broad Street to the Washington Park termination point.

The parade route was always the same, The marchers would step off on Broad Street and proceed up five blocks past Newark City Hall where there would always be a wood-framed and flag-bedecked reviewing stand with the Newark City fathers in attendance, then on three more blocks past the Four Corners, and on another three or four blocks to the end at Washington Park.

I do not recall the names of the various parades, but the one that stands out most vividly was the annual Armistice Day Parade commemorating the signing of the Armistice on November 11th in World War I.

I was always so filled with pride when the veterans of the 312th Infantry of the 78th Lightning Division ("Newark's Own") marched by. Their Infantry Home was on High Street near my home.

I fondly recall that these Armistice Day parades always had at least one open car carrying aged Civil War veterans, often wearing their old uniforms or military hats. For me, it seemed like seeing a living part of early American history.

There were also St. Patrick's parades with Newark's proud Irish community strutting with broad green ribbons across their chest, or green uniforms; also the Columbus Day parades in which Newark's large Italian community participated.

Also the Holy Name Parade, held around Columbus Day in October, with participation by most of the Catholic churches in Essex County. It would draw huge crowds along Broad Street from Park to Park.

A Lincoln Park Building

One of the more imposing buildings facing Lincoln Park on its Clinton Avenue side was the Medical Tower at No. 33. It was opened in 1927 when I was six years old, built specifically for members of the medical profession. It had quickly filled up with doctors and dentists who lived nearby or could walk to their practice.

The first time in my early life that I came in contact with anyone who had lost a member of their family was at the time of the Stack Market crash on 1929. Two friends, brothers, who were members with me in a model-building club at the High Street 'Y', lost their father as a result of the crash. he had committed suicide by jumping from one of the upper windows in the Medical Tower.

Some Lincoln Park History

Lincoln Park, I had once read, was almost as old as the City of Newark, having been established by Newark's first settlers.

It has first been known as the South Common, and later as South Park. Four years after President Abraham Lincoln's assassination, in 1869, the City officially changed its name to Lincoln Park.

In the decades immediately prior to my 1920s youth, the Lincoln Park neighborhood was one of Newark's most fashionable residential areas, with some of Newark's most prominent families having their homes on the streets facing Lincoln Park.

The reason, I'd read, was that the Newark business tycoons who occupied these stately brownstone mansions could walk or ride quickly in their horse-drawn carriages to their factories, banks, and downtown businesses.


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