Today, the terms "Down Neck",
"Ironbound," and "East Ward" are basically used
interchangeably, but the real Down Neck was not the whole of the
Ironbound. It applied to a small "neck" of land down along
the lower Passaic River.
I'm not certain of its exact boundaries, but if you start at Riverbank
Park and follow Raymond Blvd (and/or the old Morris Canal bed it
was built on) east to where it joins the Rtes 1 & 9 Truck Spur
to cross the river you have it's approximate length. It's width
was seldom more than three to five blocks south of there.
It did not cross Ferry Street until after St Charles. Christie
Street was the first street to still be a part of Down Neck south
of Ferry. Likewise, east of Chapel Street, where the Passaic pulls
away to form an oxbow, that land is not part of Down Neck.
Down Neck's neighbors were "Dutch Neck," and "The
Island." "The Island" was the land within the oxbow
to the northeast of Down Neck. It got it's name because it had been
cut off from the rest of the city by water when the canal was active.
"Dutch Neck" was the German (Down Neck and The Island
were mostly Irish and Slavs -- mainly Poles) neighborhood to the
southwest. It began at Ferry Street between Hamburg Place (Wilson
Ave) and St Charles and continued between those two streets to at
least Komorn, perhaps farther.
The Island was mostly take up by various factories along the river,
and by the great Farmers' Market which filled most of the center.
There were a few residential areas around the Farmers' Market, on
streets such as Esther, Joseph, and Cornelia (all off of Albert
When I was growing up, there were three ways onto and off of The
Island. Chapel Street to the west, Lockwood Street to the east,
and "the Jungle." This was the railroad right-of-way.
It was overgrown with weeds and small bushes (hence the name), and
in order to cross Raymond Blvd, you had to walk on the tracks across
the bridge, but if you were walking, it was preferable to going
north to Lister Street and dodging the factory traffic to get to
Chapel so you could come south again. "The Jungle" opened
up on Ferry Street just east of Manufactures' Place, which made
it convenient to get to Hayes Pool, or to school (or on Sundays