Why a web site on Newark? I’m asked
that question quite frequently. Maybe it’s because I was born
there? I don't really know.
I was born in St. Michaels’ hospital in 1951. The Sisters
of the Poor of Saint Francis incorporated Saint Michael’s
Hospital in 1871 making it one of Newark’s first hospitals.
The hospital, now a medical center, still stands on the corner of
Central Avenue and King Boulevard. Newark’s
early hospitals were all religiously affiliated, St. Michael’s
– Catholic, St. Barnabas – Episcopal, and the German
Hospital – Lutheran/Reformed. It wasn’t until ten years
after the organizing of these hospitals did the city of Newark finally
cut through the bureaucracy and build a hospital. Since my family
was Reformed, when I was young, I always wondered why I was born
in a Catholic Hospital. The answer, of course, was simple. It was
where my mother’s doctor was affiliated.
After a few days in the hospital I was brought home to the Geisheimer
residence at 33 Hawkins Street. It was a 2 and a half story house,
that are all over the Ironbound. I lived there for 3 years until
we moved to the suburbs. What do I remember about my time there,
nothing. Hey, I was young. But I do have pictures and movies from
that time. Not many but they do give me a glimpse into my past and
the time there before I was born. My paternal grandparents owned
the house on Brill Street, right behind the house on Hawkins Street.
Across from the Brill Street house was the parking lot for one of
Newark’s biggest breweries, Ballantine. My grandfather and
both my uncles worked for the brewery. My grandfather had long passed
when Ballantine closed but my two uncles still worked there. One
of them retired and one moved over to the Pabst Brewery on Grove
Street and South Orange Avenue. Pabst was soon to close leaving
Newark, which once had many breweries, with one. The remaining one
being the Budweiser
plant on Route 1 & 9 by the airport. The irony is that with
all the breweries that originated in Newark, the last one is an
My family went to the Trinity Reformed Church on the corner of
Hawkins and Ferry Streets. This was a small church that was organized
in 1869 as the East Reformed Church. The church still stands but
I don’t think Reformed services have been held there for the
past few months. Other than the church services my memories include
their annual church fairs. These were held in the meeting room off
to the side of the church. Games included throwing rubber rings
onto hooks and tossing
a beanbag through various holes in a board. My grandfather was an
elder in the church and was in charge of fundraising. When we moved
to the suburbs my family still attended the church for a short period.
On the trip home I can recall always seeing a man selling pretzels
under the Route 1 & 9 viaduct. Trinity Reformed Church never
held Christmas Eve services, instead they worshipped with the St.
Stephan’s congregation at St. Stephan’s at the corner
of Ferry Street and Wilson Avenue.
Other than the occasional trip back to Newark, I didn’t
return until late 1969. It was in that year that I enrolled in Newark
College of Engineering. The easiest way to get to the college from
home was taking the Penn. Central train into Penn Station. Once
in the station I would
go down two flights from the elevated tracks to the City Subway.
I would then take the converted trolley cars to the Warren Street
station. The City Subway was built on the bed of the old Morris
Canal. The canal was filled in over the subway tubes and South and
North Canal Street became Raymond Boulevard. When I rode the subway
there was only one tunnel, which followed the canal bed, but in
earlier years there were other branches of the subway. Some of these
branches fed the lower floors of the major Department stores and
originated from the Public Service building, which stood on Park
Place, in front of the current building. These tunnels still exist
but are closed.
After school, I took a job with the Newark Newsdealer Supply Company
at 520 South Orange Avenue. The company was in an old bus repair
building surrounded on one side by a Jewish Cemetery and across
from the trailer parking lot for Pabst Brewery. The NNSC was a newspaper
wholesaler. We delivered all types of newspapers to stores in the
northern counties of New Jersey. We also delivered the Newark Star
Ledger. These stories will have to wait for another day.
In those times I knew very little about my ancestors. When I made
to NCE from Penn Station on the City Subway, I never realized that
I passed under my great-grandfather’s brewery on South Canal
Street. To make matters worse, I never knew that in my trips from
the Newark Newsdealers to the Star Ledger, I would pass my grandfather’s
grave in Fairmount Cemetery, a mere 150 feet off the roadway. But
I now have that knowledge, so maybe I built this website, not because
I was born there, but maybe because my ancestors lived in the city
for over 100 years……..