Newark Ghetto Story of “Brick City”
A story on the Newark ghetto that shows how the city became what it is today, from the history of the communities to the Newark gangs, tells the true story of the largest city in the state of New Jersey and often known as the 6th Borough of New York City.
Between the 1940s and the 1970s, the city’s population was decreasing as people were relocating outside of the city, especially as the city lost many of its manufacturing companies.^
Before the 1940s and 1950s, redlining, the refusal of loans, the denial of bank mortgages, and block busting, helped contribute to people moving out of the city and Newark becoming a city with a majority black population.
With these practices blacks were only able to live in certain areas, mostly the Central Ward community, and later African-Americans moved into the other wards of Newark as people were leaving the city.^
During the late 1960s, around 1967, the Newark ghetto experienced one of the worst riots in the country, after a black man was brutally beaten by the police, as this event escalated the already tension within the black community.*
Rioting in Newark became so bad that the state police and National Guard had to be called in. After a few days of rioting, over 20 people were killed and fires and looting caused around 2 million dollars’ worth of damage.*
The ability to have no influence within the local politics or in the school district, harassment by the police, and the decision to turn parts of the all-black Central Ward into a medical college, created frustration in the community.*
After the riots, the city gained its first black mayor as the majority of the population was predominantly black and Latino. Blacks have been in the city for generations, while the Latino community has been in Newark since the 1950s.
Today, even though the city is experiencing gentrification, the black and Latino community makes up the majority of the city, with Hispanics residing mostly in the North Ward and parts of the East Ward. The Central, West, and South Wards are home to most of Newark’s black population.
Newark Gangs and ‘Hoods
The streets of the Newark ghetto and what is portrayed in media of Newark, with Newark gangs of the Bloods and Crips from G-Shine to Grape Street as well as the Hispanic gangs of the Latin Kings or Trinitarios (3ni) of the North Ward, has given the city the biggest reputation in the state.
The city of Newark is divided into separate sections of the North Ward, South Ward, East Ward, Central Ward, and West Ward. With the number of legendary neighborhoods in the Newark ghetto, the amount of blocks and definitely all of the old housing projects led to the city to be known as “Brick City”.
Beginning in the 1940s the city began to build a number of housing projects in the city. When first created the housing projects of Newark were segregated with ones for white families and others for black families.
Decades later, before the city began to demolish most of its housing projects in the early 1990s to the present day, Newark’s projects were some of the most known neighborhoods in the tristate area.
Down Bottoms or the East Ward that began as a diverse community with multiple races, has neighborhoods like Pennington Court, Hyatt Court, and Riverview Court.
The West Ward, which is near the city of Irvington and the Garden State Parkway, is mainly the Valisburg area that is divided into Ill Hill (Ivy Hill) and Hoodaville, along with the Bradley Court projects.
The South Ward is mostly in the Clinton Hill and Weequahic areas of the city, with neighborhoods around Lyons and Bergen, Chancellor Avenue, Clinton Ave and other blocks like Rizin City, Hawthorne Avenue, Osborne Terrace or Avon Avenue.
Another section of the South Ward is Frelinghuysen Avenue, with the Dayton Street and Seth Boyden projects.
North Ward was Newark’s old Italian community until people left the city, now its Newark’s Latino community.
North Ward was once home to the old Columbus Homes high-rise and the Thomas Walsh Homes (Grafton Avenue Projects), together with SCP (Stephen Crane Village) and the Spiers (Garden Spiers).
The Central Ward is known for the majority of the city’s old housing projects, especially off of Springfield Avenue where the once Prince Street (Stella Wright), Hayes Homes, and Crazyville (Scudder Homes) were located at.
Other neighborhoods were the Little Bricks (Felix Fuld Court), Brick Towers and High Street (MLK Blvd.), Slash T (Baxter Terrace), and Norfolk Street.
As stated before, the city of Newark is heavily gentrifying its communities, especially in the Newark ghetto that has led to most of the projects to be demolished. The city’s Land Use Plan is providing future planning of building and construction in the community, as the city’s population is slowly growing.
*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.
Newark, NJ History Fact Sources:
*”Report of the National Advisory Commision on Civil Disorders”. New York Times. Bantam Books.1968
^ Curvin, Robert”Inside Newark: Decline, Rebellion, and the Search for Transformation” Rutgers University Press. 2014