City StoriesNew Jersey

Newark, NJ

Newark Ghetto Story of “Brick City”

A story on the Newark ghetto that shows how the city became what it is today, the true story of the largest city in New Jersey that has often been referred as the 6th Borough of New York City.

The Real Newark History

Between the 1940s and 1970s, the city’s population was decreasing as white families were relocating outside of the city, especially as many of Newark’s factories were closing.

The acts of redlining, refusal loans, denying bank mortgages and block busting helped contribute to the change in Newark’s demographics.

With these practices, blacks were at first only able to live in certain areas of Newark like the Central Ward community.

Eventually, African-Americans moved into the other wards and communities of Newark as thousands of people were leaving the city.

During the late 1960s the Newark ghetto experienced one of the worst riots in the country.

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The cause of the riots was due to a black man being 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, all created the frustration in the community.

After the riots, the city gained its first black mayor as most of the population became predominantly African-American and Latino.

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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 still makes up the majority of the city.

Hispanics reside mostly in the North Ward and parts of the East Ward, while the Central, West and South wards are home to most of Newark’s black population.

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Newark Gangs and ‘Hoods

The streets of the Newark ghetto and what has been portrayed in the media has given Newark a fierst reputation.

A reputation 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.

A reputation of Newark hoods as the city is divided into separate sections of the North Ward, South Ward, East Ward, Central Ward, and West Ward.

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With numerous of legendary neighborhoods in the Newark ghetto, the amount of blocks and old housing projects has 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 some complexes for white families and others for black families.

Before the city began to demolish most of its housing projects, starting during the early 1990s, Newark’s projects were some of the most known neighborhoods in the Tri-State 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.

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West Ward

The South Ward is mostly in the Clinton Hill and Weequahic areas, which include Lyons and Bergen, Chancellor Avenue, Clinton Ave and other blocks like Rizin City, Hawthorne Avenue, Osborne Terrace or Avon Avenue.

The South Ward is also known for Frelinghuysen Avenue, which has ‘hoods like Dayton Street and the Seth Boyden projects.

North Ward was Newark’s old Italian community until many left the city, making the community to be largely part of 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 oldest housing projects, especially off of Springfield Avenue where the once Prince Street (Stella Wright), Hayes Homes, and Crazyville (Scudder Homes) were located at.

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The Little Bricks

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.

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*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 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