The 81 city blocks that made up Newark's
old Third Ward ceased to exist as a unique neighborhood of Newark
in 1954 when the City of Newark erased the old Third Ward lines
and made the neighborhood a part of a larger, current Central Ward.
At least four writers who had lived in the Third Ward neighborhood
during its life, authored books which described some aspects of
Third Ward life -- two factually in autobiographical works, and
two fictionally in widely-acclaimed novels.
The two biographical works were written by Third Ward neighborhood
Newarkers who spent their boyhood in the Third Ward and went on
to fame and fortune elsewhere. Both were white and Jewish.
The first was Dore Schary. From his Newark neighborhood environment,
he went on to become head of MGM studios in Hollywood for eight
years, wrote numerous plays and classic film scripts that won numerous
awards, among them nine Motion Picture Academy awards or nominations.
Schary grew up on High Street (now King Blvd.) near Court Street,
where his family operated a kosher catering establishment "Schary
Manor." It operated out of two High Street locations, and later
on Clinton Avenue--all bordering the Third Ward. He attended and
graduated from Central High School.
Schary also helped direct plays at the old High Street 'Y' where
he got his first stage experience.
His 1961 book was titled "For Special Occasions." It
was taken from his family's catering establishment sign which read:
"Schary Manor - Catering for Special Occasions."
The second autobiographical work was by Ed Koch, three-time New
York City Mayor, and five-term New York Congressman. The book's
title: "Citizen Koch."
Koch spent his boyhood on Spruce Street, between Quitman and Monmouth
in Newark's old Third Ward and attended Monmouth Street School.
He had lived there from the age of 8 with his impoverished family
which had moved in with relatives while it struggled for survival.
Koch, in his book, recalled with great bitterness working with
his father and brother in the checkroom of the Krueger Auditorium
on Belmont Avenue near Springfield, their entire income derived
from the ten-cent tips earned at dances and special events held
The two novels that dealt with Newark's Third Ward were written
by acclaimed African-American writers and dealt with African-American
life in the black ghetto that was part of Newark's Third Ward.
The first novel was written by Curtis Lucas, who had moved to
Newark's Third Ward in 1946 from rural Georgia. He had written his
critically-acclaimed African-American crime fiction novel while
a Newark resident titled "Third Ward Newark."
The second novel was written by Nathan C. Heard in 1968 -- a former
Third Ward resident. It was written inside the Trenton State Penitentiary
while Heard was serving a seven-year sentence for armed robbery.
The book's title "Howard Street" bore the name of a
black-populated crime-ridden Third Ward street.
It offered a firsthand experience of black life in a Newark black
ghetto and thrust its author into the literary spotlight as one
of the most accomplished African-American writers in the late 20th
"Howard Street" provided a unique insight into the psychology,
motivations, and lingo of what one reviewer called "a street
of doomed souls, whores, junkies, pushers, thieves, and corrupt
Heard subsequently wrote several more novels touching on his neighborhood
experience in Newark's Third Ward.1
Philip Roth's Father Recalls Third Ward
Pulitzer Prize novelist Philip Roth, a native of Newark's Weequahic
section, deals with his father's recollections of Third Ward happenings
in his award-winning 1991 testimonial to his father, "Patrimony."
Roth's father, Herman, had plod the streets of Newark's Third
Ward as a sales agent for the Metropolitan Insurance Co. and knew
the neighborhood intimately.
He relates his father describing "the kingpin Newark mobster,
Longy Zwillman" and his gang of "Jewish boys around the
Third Ward" who took care of the "Polacks" who attacked
Third Ward Jews with beards.
This so-called "gang" also occupies a chapter in Dore
Schary's book "For Special Occasions." Schary described
it as a loosely-organized group known as "The Happy Ramblers'
who defended Jewish peddlers on Prince Street, the Jewish shopping
hub, from attacks by gangs of marauders from outside the Third Ward
All of the above mentioned books are out of print. However, copies
exist in scattered libraries around the country and sometimes can
be obtained by inter-library loan. I was able to re-read "For
Special Occasions" recently through an inter-library loan from
the Cranford Library.