Late 1920s Business Life in the Third Ward

by Nat Bodian


In 1927, a Third Ward "political club" was established with political, business, and social motives and after its first year had acquired approximately 300 members. The Ward's population at that time was heavily Jewish.

Its stated aim, in a statement of its organization, was to "unite the voting power of the district *...the real melting pot of the city, and to uplift conditions therein."

A side benefit of organization membership was protection by Ward-based "musclemen" who took care of any troublemakers.

The club held its first social event in the fall of 1928--its "First Annual Pre-Election Dance"--and published a Souvenir Program for it in which approximately 100 neighborhood merchants and supporters of the club placed advertisements.

In an inspection of the Souvenir Program nearly three quarters of a century later, one can pretty much visualize what Third Ward life was like in that era before the Great Depression, and what goods and services the residents of the Third Ward required to sustain their daily life.

1928 Advertisers


Advertisers included a butcher, a poultry market, a fish market, 13 restaurants, two luncheonettes, five delicatessens, a bakery, a pickle works, a seller of wholesale produce, a seltzer bottler, and a beer wholesaler.


Advertisers included a stationer, numerous stores selling men's hats, clothing, and furnishings, a tobacconist, a furniture store, three jewelry stores, and a coal and fuel dealer.

Service Trades:

A carpenter, a mason, three plumbers, a painter, three contractors, two barbers, a shoe shine parlor, a cleaning and dying establishment, a printer, and a horse shoer.

Transportation and Moving:

Five auto storage garages and repair facilities, two auto parts dealers/wreckers, two truck dealerships, one taxi company, one horse and wagon rental stable, and one mover.


One optometrist, one funeral director, several lawyers.


One steambath, one boxing gym.


One finance company, three insurance agents/agencies.

Some Ad Excerpts

Mercer Baths: "Russian Turkish Baths for the Treatment of Gout and
Rheumatism" ... "The Best Rubbers in the City"

Twentieth Century Cab Company: "Every driver an owner" ... "Look for
the diamond on the door."

Harrison's Fish Market: "Live Fish Our Specialty."

Livingston Auto Parts: "We buy old cars and trucks for wrecking purposes."

Kane's Restaurant: "Where you get your seven course dinner for 60¢ with
beer free"

Waverly Garage: "The ideal home for your car" ... Cylinder Grinding ...
Auto Laundry."

Joe Frucht: "Horses, Wagons, Carriages to hire by hour, day, or week."

J. S. Gold, Wholesale Tobacconist: "Distributor of Topic 10¢, Bold 2 for 15¢
and Recal 5¢ Cigars of Quality."

Max Meyerson: "High Class Barber."

Sam Becker: "Horse Shoer."

(Not advertising, but also doing business in the Third Ward in 1928 were numerous mom n' pop groceries, hardware stores, dry goods stores, a kitchen appliance store, a window glass and mirror store, a corsetiere, a Yiddish theatre, and a store selling Jewish books, religious goods, and artifacts).

* * *

In addition to business advertisers, the Souvenir Program also included greetings form well-wishers. Prominent among them was William J. Brennan, "Honorary Member" who was then Newark's Commissioner of Public Safety.

Brennan, a Newark labor leader before his election, was the father of eight children, the second of which was William, Jr., a 22-year old law student who would later serve 34 years on the United States Supreme Court (1956-1990), write 1360 opinions, and earn recognition as "One of the greatest justices of all time."

Also prominent in the Souvenir Program was Meyer C. Ellenstein, Attorney-at-Law, who would serve as Newark's first and only Jewish mayor (1933-1941).

* * *

* Third Ward consisted of 81 blocks bounded by High Street (5/8 mile west of Broad Street) on the East, Belmont Avenue on the West, Springfield and South Orange Avenues on the North, and Clinton Avenue on the South.


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