Newark, New Jersey
Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know … ?
- Branch Brook Park was America’s first county park opened to the public (1900).
- Newark originated as a theocracy founded in 1666 by disgruntled Puritans from Connecticut.
- Inventor Thomas Edison set up his first laboratory and manufacturing facility in Newark (1871).
- The 2,000 cherry trees in Branch Brook Park outnumber and are more varied than those in Washington, D.C.
- Newark, in 1837, counted 155 makers of patent leather.
One city’s rebirth
Newark, the largest city in New Jersey, is a metropolis with a history. All too often, the history best known to potential visitors relates to race riots of the 1960s and high crime rates in the decades that followed. Although the route hasn’t been smooth or quick, the city has recovered to a degree, attracting visitors on a regular basis. Tourists particularly appreciate the prices in Newark, which are lower than those in New York City, only eight miles to the east.
Some overnight visitors choose Newark as a cost-effective way to visit the Big Apple on day trips, but the New Jersey city these days competes head to head with its near neighbor offering, for example, Broadway shows, opera, pop artists in concert, museums and galleries, professional sports and historic districts with distinctive charms.
Newark’s renaissance is linked to new venues meant to make the city an entertainment destination. Those venues are the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (1997), hosting Broadway shows, dance programs, concerts and special events; the Riverfront Stadium for Minor League baseball (1999), and the Prudential Center (2007) hosting hockey, basketball, concerts and special events. Further, the Red Bull Arena (for soccer) opened just outside Newark in 2010.
The city already boasted a culinary district, called Ironbound, noted for its Portuguese, Brazilian and Spanish cuisine.
As for the metropolis with a history, the story begins in the 17th century when Newark’s founders purchased land from the Hackensack Indians for goods worth about $750. They initially named the new settlement Milford.
After the American Revolution, several industries prospered; the Ballantine Brewing business, several insurance companies and the very numerous leather tanning operations are examples. Newark’s industrial growth brought several inventors to town, including Thomas Edison.
The most visible outcome of the city’s boom years is in the architecture of historic commercial buildings, fine churches and the homes successful entrepreneurs built for themselves.
There are around 75 Newark entries on the national and New Jersey registries of historic places. They include buildings, cemeteries, parks, statuary and entire historic districts. All that old stuff promises another way to look at Newark
Things to do for Venturers
- Dance to the sounds of the samba and other Brazilian beats at an Ironbound nightclub.
- Get on stage at the Bradley Hall Theater on Rutgers’ Newark campus. The theater specializes in interactive experiences where the audience is invited to be part of the play. Or, tap your toes to jazz, also at Bradley Hall.
- Buy the tickets and schedule your Newark visit to see and hear a big-name pop performer at the Prudential Center.
- Attend a service at the Greater Abyssinian Baptist Church, New Hope Baptist Church or Newark Gospel Tabernacle for the music. Churches have been the home turf for rhythm and blues singers.
- Come in July to the free Lincoln Park Music Festival for the gospel, hip-hop and jazz performances — also, for the healthy lifestyle programming (massages and yoga among other features) and for the green/sustainable marketplace with food and arts-and-crafts vendors. The event is dedicated to revitalizing the historic Lincoln Park section.
- Gutzon Borglum, the Mount Rushmore sculptor, has four works in Newark, most notably “The Indian and the Puritan” in Washington Park. Pursue an interest in the sculptor and discover more of the city by looking for the other three.
Things to do for Centrics
- Eat Portuguese food in the Ironbound district, an area noted for its restaurants. Also, try a caipirinha cocktail made from Brazilian sugar cane liquor.
- Rainy days don’t get much better. Head to Newark Museum, the state’s largest museum complex with 80 galleries of art and science plus a small zoo, planetarium, sculpture garden, schoolhouse and the 1885 Ballantine House, a National Historic Landmark.
- Come to Newark in the spring for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, held in the Branch Brook Park.
- Take a guided walking tour of the Ironbound district (offered by the New Jersey Historical Society and the Ironbound Business Improvement District). Also, visit the catacombs under the district’s Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.
- Make historic districts a sightseeing theme, starting with the James Street Commons Historic District, comprising about 20 blocks of townhouses along Washington Park and bordering the Newark Museum and Rutgers Business School.
- Attend New Jersey Devils hockey game or a Seton Hall men’s basketball game at the Prudential Center.
Things to do for Authentics
- Shop at Jersey Gardens in nearby Elizabeth. It is the state’s largest outlet mall, with more than 200 stores. There is no sales tax on shoes and clothing.
- Play golf at the Weequahic Park Golf Course.
- Attend an organ recital at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Or hear the Newark Boys Chorus School’s choir sing at one of its many area concerts.
- Watch the Newark Bears play Minor League baseball at Riverfront Stadium.
- For free entertainment, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center presents an outdoor music series Thursday evenings June through August. Alternatively, consider the Newark Museum’s Jazz in the Garden summer concert series, set for Thursday afternoons in July.
- Attend a Broadway show at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. For ballet, the opera or symphony, head to Symphony Hall.
For additional information, consult the Greater Newark Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.newarkhappening.com