Prince Street in the 1920s slices through
the heart of Newark's old Third Ward, a bustling Jewish community.
It is the Jewish neighborhood's main shopping thoroughfare, just
five eighths of a mile west of downtown Newark's Broad Street.
Prince Street is a mirror-image of New York's immigrant-crowded
Orchard Street on the lower East Side. Yiddish is the primary language
heard on the street.
Pushcarts line the curbs on both sides of the street. Competing
with the pushcart peddlers, in the aging wooden cold-water tenements,
are merchants in sidewalk level stores, nearly all with canvas awning
covered sidewalk displays.
Prince Street's seven block length cuts north to south through
the old Third Ward which occupied 81 city blocks. This was where
most of Newark's then estimated 50,000 Jewish population lived.
Prince Street is also the center of Newark Jewish religious activity.
There are five synagogues directly on Prince Street and eleven more
on bordering or nearby streets. The oldest, which last housed Congregation
Adath Israel Mishnayes, at 30 Prince Street, is on the National
Register of Historic Places.*
Jewish housewives shop daily on Prince Street, where the pushcart
peddlers and the store merchants sell everything from barrel pickles,
herring, fruits and vegetables, to men's work pants and various
items of clothing.
All are at bargain prices and cater to the needs of the struggling
and cash-poor Jewish home-makers, most of them emigrants from Eastern
On all of Prince Street, the busiest block is the one between
Spruce Street and Montgomery Street. It is patrolled by a Yiddish-speaking
burly 5 feet 10 inch police officer who is frequently seen chatting
with merchants. His name was Morris Brodsky.
As one walks into Prince Street from Spruce Street on the east
side of the street, there is Brownstein's Live Poultry Market, where
housewives pick their chicken purchases from cages and have them
slaughtered, plucked and cleaned while they wait.
Then, two kosher butchers follow--Menson's, and Herbert and Paul's.
Also in this area and on this side of the street is Kutakoff's Variety
Store where neighborhood housewives buy their dressmaking and sewing
supplies, and various other small household items.
After Kutakoff's is Halper's Paper Goods, which is the main supplier
of paper bags to nearly every peddler and merchant on Prince Street.
Proprietor Halper has ten children, and uses several of his sons
to make paper bag deliveries along the street.
Next is Bakalchuk the Tailor, a Russian émigré like
neighbor Halper. He sells men's and boy's pants from stacks piled
high on his wooden counter. He also does tailoring using a treadle
sewing machine. And hanging from overhead racks are lines of cleaned
and pressed suits and dresses.
The Bakalchuk family of five live in three cramped rooms in back
of the store. Their bathtub is a storage place for a wide assortment
of laundered clothing. The family takes its baths around the corner
at the Montgomery Public Baths, a short way up the block on Montgomery
Next is the Chevrah Tillem Synagogue, and then Schnur's Candy
Store. Schnur's also carries stationery and newspapers. The biggest
seller, without question, is the special Newark Edition of the Jewish
Daily Forward, printed in Jewish in New York City. The Newark dailies
are the morning Ledger, the Star-Eagle, and the Newark Evening News.
The Ledger is the only morning paper and the top English-language
Next is Kaplan's Delicatessen at No. 205 Prince with its dull
white tile floor and white tile-topped rectangular eating tables,
with bent-wire chairs. On the tables are bowls of block sugar for
the tea drinkers. Fat corn beef sandwiches sell for ten cents each
in the 1920s.
Adjacent to Kaplan's Delicatessen is Lowitz Grocery Store, a small
store with a limited selection of basic necessities.
Farther over the block is Reinfelds, another delicatessen, with
sawdust-covered wood floors, and a smokehouse in the back. Between
the delicatessens is Mittlemans Bakery, which supplies Jewish rye
sandwich loaves to both delicatessens. The two delis are kosher-style,
but not kosher. For those who are koshruth observant there is the
strictly kosher Stoffer's Hebrew National on the corner of Prince
and Court Streets.
On the west side of Prince Street, walking from Spruce toward
Montgomery, there is Mantell's Shoe Store on the corner and directly
next door to it, the Plaut Memorial Hebrew Free School. This Hebrew
Free School was a gift of the Plaut family, owners of a large downtown
Newark department store at 707-721 Broad Street adjacent to the
bed of the old Morris Canal. A plaque on the outside wall of the
Prince Street building stated that the Hebrew Free School had been
established to "bring the civilizing influence of American
democracy to our Eastern European brethren."
Going down the block, there is Gold's Shoe Store, operated by
Leo Gold , who had inherited the business from his father at the
Next to Golds is Moishe Hupert's Fish Market. The name is painted
on the double glass windows in Jewish writing that spells out "Moishe
Fisher," This translates into English roughly as "Moishe,
the fish man."
Inside the fish market is a large water filled sheet metal tank
containing live fish., From this tank , Jewish housewives shop,
mainly for their Sabbath eve mainstay, gefilte fish. The fish varieties
are pike, carp, and perch.
When a shopper makes a pick in the tank, the selected fish is
netted, killed on a wooden butcher-block table with a single blow
from a round wooden club, then scaled and cleaned for take-home.
The fish tank had been specially made for the fish market by "Zozoski
the Blecher," a Russian émigré tinsmith named
Zozoski in his store/workshop on Belmont Avenue at the corner of
Montgomery Street. It had been installed by Morris Kashefsky (Kashefsky
the Plumber) who had his plumbing store directly across Prince Street.
Beyond the Spruce-Montgomery Prince Street block are two other
Prince Street bakeries that flourished and grew in later years,
Wigler's, and Lehrhoff's.
Also on Prince Street nearer to Springfield Avenue were two small
family-owned stores that would emerge as large chains in the coming
decades. They were Prince Range, near Morton Street, a store selling
gas ranges and operated by Charlie Schultz, which would later grow
into the large Prince Range Appliance chain.
And at 167 Prince Street was Harry Marcus' Roumanian Broiling
House --an eatery frequented by Third Ward politicos who favored
the specialty of the house -- sizzling steaks, taken off the huge
grill and served on round wooden boards with sides of carnatzlach
(a Roumanian delicacy) and kishka (stuffed derma), and hot French
There was also Lechters Housewares at 120 Prince Street, which
by the end of the century would become a multi-state chain with
hundreds of stores.
But times and neighborhoods change and sometimes die as did Prince
Street. The children of those Prince Street shoppers of the 1920s
and 1930s later moved to the more affluent Clinton Hill section
of Newark, and subsequently into the Weequahic section, and ultimately
into the Newark suburbs.
By the end of the 1960s, virtually all 0f Newark's Jewish population
had left the City and the Prince Street that was once the shopping
hub for more than 50,000 Jews was now just a distant memory, brought
back to life for the first time in this entry.