Newark - The Financial Capitol of the State

by Jule Spohn

My first job after getting out of the Marine Corps was in early 1967 in the Trust Department of National Newark and Essex Bank at 744 Broad Street - the Grand Daddy of them all. It was established in 1804 as the Newark Banking and Insurance Company. It was the first bank in the State of New Jersey and the forty-fifth bank in the country. I first worked in the "securities cage" handling the physical stocks and bonds that the customers brought into the bank for safekeeping, and I then became the "trader" for the bank and did the buying and selling of securities for itself and it's customers.

In those days Newark was the financial capital of New Jersey. The city abounded with banks, trust company's, brokerage firms, law firms, and insurance companies. Many millions were made and lost right here in Newark.

Some of the other banks and trust companies were Howard Savings Institution, which was the first to open accounts for the school children; National State Bank of Newark; Bank of Commerce; Fidelity Union Trust Company; Bessemer Trust Company; and the United States Savings Bank.

There were many brokerage firms in the city. Some of them have since merged with other firms over the years, and many of them simply have gone out of business. Almost none of them are left in Newark today. Some of the major firms were A. M. Kidder; Adams & Hinkley Alexander Reid; Auchincloss, Parker & Redpath; Bruns Nordman; F. I. DuPont & Co.; Eastman Dillon; Edwards & Hanley; Winslow, Cohu, & Stetsen; Halle & Stieglitz; Harris Upham; Ira Haupt & Co; Hayden Stone; Heller & Meyer; Hemphill Noyes; Hirsch & Co; Kean Taylor; Kidder Peabody; Laird Bissell; Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Bean (later known as Smith); Nugent & Igoe; Oppenheimer & Co; Owens & Co; Reynolds & Co; Spencer Trask; Winslow Cohu & Stetsen; and a slew of smaller firms.

There were a whole slew of Insurance Companies and agents. Of course the Granddaddy of them all is the Prudential which was founded by John Fairfield Dryden in 1873. Then there was Aetna; American Insurance Company; Allstate; Equitable Life; Hartford, Metropolitan Life; Mutual Benefit; State Farm and Travelers.

The oldest insurance company in the city was the Newark Mutual Fire Assurance Company which was founded in 1810; and the Firemen's Insurance Company, which had it's original building on the corner of Broad and Market streets, and had a wooden statue of a fireman standing on top of the building.

It was the Prudential Insurance Company and Mutual Benefit Life who literally saved Newark from sinking further than it did after the 1967 riots. They decided to stay in the city and led the way for the early "rebirth" of the city that took place in the 70's and 80's and is still going on stronger than ever at this point in time.


Email this memory to a friend.
Enter recipient's e-mail: