Down Neck Part 2

by Doris Campbell Hector

Doris Campbell Hector passed away on June 2, 2002 at the age of 81

This narrative, on the gradual egress of the populace living in the Down Neck area of Newark, is based partially on oral history and my own subsequent observation, but after the fact.

In my previous narrative, I explained how the Diocese of Newark set imaginary boundaries necessary for the establishment of a new parish. This method continued, as the exodus started, and necessitated additional new parishes to address the religious needs of the relocated people. The actual parish and/or area where to locate these new parishes within the Newark city limits, seemed to be determined by ethnic background.

At this time, I will digress from the Down Neck exodus and briefly mention the early Newark which was the precursor of Down Neck. The early settlers chose to work and reside close to the Passaic River. That location gave them the mobility necessary to travel by boat and/or horse and carriage in their personal and business lives. (On a personal note my great-great-great-grandfather owned the Clarke Carriage Company on Commerce Street in Newark and is so listed in the 1829 Newark Directory.)

The early settlers from the late 18th century to about the 1830's lived and worked from the (now) Penn Railroad in the east, to High Street in the west and Broad Street in the north and south. This era of Newark is in need of more research and should include the Morris Canal, which was a major factor in the commercial growth of Newark.

As more affordable and reliable transportation grew, the demographic mosaic of the Down Neck section changed. The populous had other options regarding the accessibility to the workplace so the need to live within walking distance of the place of employment was no longer an issue. Thus, the gradual egress began.



As the 20th century approached, the influx of Irish immigrants to the Down Neck section of Newark leveled off. In their stead were the first-generation-born Americans whose goals and ambitions perhaps differed from their forefathers. The infrastructure of the city presented them with more options in their lives. In this time frame, Newark had several main traffic arteries East to West High Street, bisected by Market Street. It was from this point that Springfield Avenue, South Orange Avenue and West Market Street, fanned out in a westerly direction. Springfield Avenue, west-south-west; South Orange Avenue, directly straight to the west, and, West Market Street in a west-north-west direction. The remaining arteries in this grid are Broad Street, bisected by Central Avenue; and Orange Street, bisected by Mt. Prospect Avenue to the north. (The grid is factual and can be verified and perhaps honed, by reviewing a map of the city of Newark. However, the remainder of the narrative is oral history and my own observation.)

For the sake of expedience, and to remain focused on the exodus itself, I will divide the egress into three sections. I can't attest, however, to the accurate chronological order of the relocation. This can be verified by researching the records of the Diocese of Newark to determine the dates the churches were established to accommodate the exodus.

1. St. Joseph Church - West Market Street, Newark
2. St. Antoninus Church - South Orange Avenue, Newark
3. Sacred Heart Church - South Orange Avenue, Newark

1, St. Joseph Church parishioners were mainly Irish immigrants who came to America during or after the Spanish-American War. The parish encompassed Clifton Avenue to the east, West Market Street to the juncture of Central Avenue and the southside of Central Avenue east to Clifton Avenue, and to the south, 13th Avenue. Littleton Avenue is in this area, as is/was Old City Hospital, now the New Jersey Medical School Hospital on Fairmount Avenue; St. Vincent Academy on West Market Street and the Old Lutheran Hospital on Newton Street were Clara Maas was a nurse.

2, St. Antoninus parishioners reflected almost the same ethnic background as those in St. Joseph's parish. I am not too familiar with the north and south boundaries of what I call the numbered streets,

I.e., No. 10th - So 10th, etc. I am not certain about the west boundary either. It was 15th Street or perhaps Grove Street.

3, Sacred Heart - The nuclei of this parish were former parishioners of St. James Church. In the early 1930's the very, very popular pastor of St. James, Rev. John J. Murphy, was made pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Vailsburg.

It is regrettable that at the present time conditions in the areas of the last-mentioned churches make it unsafe to tour the local neighborhoods to observe the architectural structures, which would give you insight into the financial affluence at the time of their development into neighborhoods.


The relocation of the Germans in what was known as "Dutch Neck" was at a much slower pace than the Irish from St. James Parish. Those residents who chose to relocate went via Springfield Avenue from Bergen Street in the east to west direction beyond the Newark city line on to Irvington, joining the German immigrants to came to America after them, as was the case with the Irish.


Refer to the first paragraph titled "Irish". I have, regrettably, a dearth of information on this group of people and, therefore, can't give an accurate account of their exodus from the Down Neck/Ironbound section of Newark.


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