Newark the Beautiful: Description in America's First Geography in 1820's

by Nat Bodian


Newark, nearly two centuries ago, was described as "one of the most beautiful towns in the United States."

This description of Newark was in America's first geography book, first published in the late 1820s.

How I came by this description and made it public is the subject of this "Old Newark" memory.

In 1960, I was sales manager of The Baker & Taylor Company, at that time American's largest suppliers of books to libraries and bookstores.

Baker & Taylor was then located on North Broad Street in Hillside, a short distance from the Hillside-Newark line. It had been founded in the 1820s as a book publisher, and had turned to wholesale book distribution in 1911.

In the spring of 1960, as I was making plans to host my company's exhibit at a New Jersey Library Convention at the Hotel Dennis in Atlantic City, I searched for give-aways for the librarians. I also made up a "Press Kit" containing news releases related to company activities which could be taken by either librarians or the visiting press.

While writing the Press Release handouts, I dug into a box of old books that had been published by Baker & Taylor in its earlier years up to 1911.

Hidden in its depths, I discovered a dust-covered, musty book titled "Modern Geography." It was an 1834 seventeenth edition of a book first published in the late 1820s.

In its opening pages, it explained that this was the first attempt at a textbook on the subject. It had a separate page listing for several New Jersey cities. Among them was a page on Newark.

I was taken by the historic book's description of Newark as "one of the most beautiful towns in the United States."

I wrote a News Release on the description of Newark and included it with the other Press Kit entries.

The "Newark" geography release was subsequently printed verbatim in the Newark Sunday News. It carried a banner "Special to the Newark News."

I recently came across a clipping of that Newark Sunday News story that I wrote 43 years ago. I now share it with others who may also enjoy reading about the beautiful town of Newark of the late 1820s as described in America's first geography book.

Newark Sunday News - Sunday May 8, 1960


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