Ethnic Neighborhoods

by Bill Newman

Like most cities Newark was divided into a few major groups the prominent ones in Newark being the Italian section, the Jewish neighborhood, a small Chinese area and the Portuguese neighborhood. The Portuguese neighborhood was referred to as "The Ironbound Section" because of the heavy industry situated there or as "Down Neck." There was a reason for the "Down Neck" name, though at this time I can't recall what it was.

The Chinese area was along Mulberry Street and consisted of about five restaurants and a few novelty shops. Most parts of Mulberry Street could easily qualify as "Skid Row." For that reason the Chinese area did not flourish as it did in other cities. It seemed to continually shrink and in the 40"s was just about gone.

The business district of the Italian section was mostly restaurants and grocery stores. As I write this I get a yearning for an Italian hot dog. This was a hot dog on a triangular piece of Italian bread smothered with deep fried potatoes, onions and peppers.

Pizza pies were a big favorite in the 30's but they were not called pizza pies. We always knew them as tomato pies or La Beetz. This must be an Italian word that I am sure is misspelled. A slice of pizza in those days sold for .05¢.

The Jewish neighborhood, mainly Hawthorne Avenue is described and referred to in many places on this web site. There is no need to elaborate again.

"Down Neck" was a great place to go as there always seemed to be a block party or a carnival in progress. It was a long walk to "Down Neck" and back but it was worth it. Sometimes we had no money and made the walk just to be part of the excitement. If we did have some change we would not spend it for bus fare. It made much more sense to spend it on food or drink or maybe for a roller coaster ride.


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