The "77 Steps" Area

by Newark Talk Collective


I lived on Mt. Prospect Ave. near Ballantine Parkway and Clifton Avenue, (1956-1961) anyone know where I am talking about. Right near Dr. Russoneillo's and Dr. Rizzolo (dentist), anyone know them?

Danny B.:
Welcome to Old Newark. I grew up at the foot of the 77 steps (you may remember them (Mt. Prospect & Abington is the top of the steps). Mt. Prospect was famous for all of the doctor offices, pretty much from Second Ave all the way to Elwood Ave. On Mt. Prospect South of Second Ave to Bloomfield Ave., there were about 4 or 5 funeral homes. I don't even want to think that there is any correlation between the proximity of the 2 types of businesses!

I walked a beat in that neighborhood, know it well. I walked the 77 steps, up and down and even had a foot race with one of my brother officers to the top of the steps.
Was that a White Castle or a Red Tower hamburger stand near the bottom of the steps?

Jule Spohn:
Know the area well. Live nearby on Van Wagenen Street over by the old Essex Catholic school on Broad street. The area you are talking about is still a very beautiful area. All of the homes have been well maintained and if you come back now you would never know you left that area 40 years ago. This area is predominately Hispanic now but these newcomers have done a great job of keeping up these beautiful old homes in that area.

I was so young I never heard of the 77 steps in Forest Hills. What exactly are they? I would love to know. Isn't Abington Avenue right on the other side of the old Clark mansion? My parents and I lived on the other side of the mansion, in the apartments on Mt. Prospect Avenue (Cromwell Terrace) when I was a very young. They turned the Clark mansion into a school, (Maybe Montesorri) and I was to start there but we moved to Belleville. Does anyone remember Dr. Russomano, he lived a little further down on Mt. Prospect and Dr. Rizzolo even further down.

Danny B.:
There was a Blue Castle a few blocks down Arlington Ave. On Broadway, next to the Boys Club.
Regarding the 77 steps, they were there at least since we moved onto Summer Ave in 1957. It was the only way to get down from Forest Hill to Summer Ave and beyond for over a one mile stretch from Second Ave to Elwood Ave.

Perhaps you are confusing the Red Tower hamburgers with Towers coffee shop, it was on Mt. Prospect Ave. one or two blocks down after Abington Avenue. Then directly down a few blocks was Essex Catholic and Broad Street. I used to go there with my father a lot, and every Sunday for the newspaper. Then when he visited friends his Forest Hill Civic Club when we lived in E. Orange and Belleville. It was a great coffee shop. Do you remember the owner, Dave Sobel? He had a pretty wife and two children my age or younger.

Danny B.:
Towers coffee shop - SE corner of Mt. Prospect and Second Avenue. Yes, I remember it very well, my two oldest brothers worked there as an after school job when they attended Barringer HS in the mid-late 60s. As for me, I had many a fountain soda or coffee and slice of pie - Towers had a pretty long counter (probably about a dozen seats), but I think it was more famous for magazines, newspapers and other odds and ends - I know my family bought all of their stationary supplies there, especially poster paper & colored pencils for school projects.

There was a little corner store on the SE corner of Summer and Arlington (I lived diagonally across on the NW corner), but it was always a candy store (The Sugar Bowl?) or later, what some now call a bodega.

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