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Newark in the Early 20 th Century: Sweet Success Turns Sour Honors Section Professor Barr.

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Presentation on theme: "Newark in the Early 20 th Century: Sweet Success Turns Sour Honors Section Professor Barr."— Presentation transcript:

1 Newark in the Early 20 th Century: Sweet Success Turns Sour Honors Section Professor Barr

2 Review of Major Themes: Urban Changes in the Early 20 th c.  Migration: Cities swelled with internal and external migrants in search of work.  Transportation Changes: –Car and truck allowed for new mobility –Wealthy begin leaving inner city.  Zoning: –Rationalized econ. activity [nuisance zoning] –Allowed wealthy in suburbs to keep out poor [fiscal zoning] and factories and other businesses that might lower property values [nuisance zoning]. –Effect: rich paid less for more land and more services in suburbs.  Annexation –Allowed population to expand in city. –Rationalized inter-urban competition. –Allowed rich to stay and maintain property taxes.

3 Newark’s Problems at Turn of Century: Themes  Massive housing shortage.  Little annexation of suburbs.  Flight of business class.  Rising Expenditures due to: –Population influx. –Increased need for city services: education, police, fire, etc.  Rising tax rates on land: –Less income from rich. –Higher tax rates cause more flight.  Mixed-use zoning in Central Ward.  Lax pollution controls.

4 Newark’s Housing Shortage  Newark experienced a terrible housing shortage between 1890 and  Population growth far outstripped developable land (much land was marshland).  City did not expand to keep up with pop. growth.  By 1915 “Residential possibilities of Newark has nearly been exhausted.”  1919: b/c large pop. influx, City Commission allocated funds to erect a tent colony.

5 Newark’s Housing Shortage  Newark was lower middle class due to industrial base.  No wealthy nds, mostly working class housing (flight of wealthy to suburbs).  Poor could not afford to move to suburbs, while rich moved out of city.  Lax pollution controls allowed housing to be side by side polluting factories.  Made rich more likely to flee and poor had to live next to pollution.  In 1880s there were 10,000 cesspools in Newark: each a breeder of disease, sickness and death. Jackson (2000)

6 Pollution  Newark historically allowed polluting industries to coexist in proximity to residential neighborhoods.  Leather goods and tanning, paint and varnish manufacturing, and brewing caused enormous pollution problems.  Industrial pollution increased in the 20th century due to the complexity and size of chemical plants.  The Passaic River eventually made it to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of the most endangered waterways in the nation, owing to cancer- causing dioxins produced as a by-product of the pesticide plants which released these wastes directly into the river. Source:

7 Pollution and Sewage  By 1870, there were only 12 miles of sewers.  Following the Civil War, sewers were built on the outskirts of the city as real estate promoters acquired cheap land in the hope of attracting new residents to the area.  Public improvements “ran mad...Streets were laid out in pasture lands where they would not be needed for years to come...Sewers were built in streets that were not graded, and while all this was going on, the center of the city was neglected.”  For a city with the largest and densest population in the state, a city attracting more and more factories and warehouses, a city building outward every year, the pace of sewer construction was woefully inadequate.  Newark’s Common Council pursued a policy to keep taxes low and avoid public debt in an effort to attract capital and labor to the city. While this policy did have the desired effect of promoting industrial growth, it bankrupt the city with regard to all public improvements.  As a result, sewers were financed by assessing all property owners to be connected. Consequently, private sewers accounted for almost 12% of all sewer miles by While private financing allowed for new sewer construction, it precluded the possibility of designing an integrated system. It also ensured that sewers were built in only the more affluent areas, leaving the poorest and most overcrowded areas without means of sanitation.  By 1919 Newark had sewered over 95%of its improved area, and its mortality rate had dropped nearly 60%. Source:

8 Newark’s Changing Economy  Depression era Newark was already slowly losing factories and industrial jobs in the 1920s with a shift to a white-collar economy.  Banking, insurance, county government, communications, and transportation became the dominant corporate employers (Public Service, New Jersey Bell Telephone, and Prudential for example).  Rapid expansion of mass transit and the frenzied construction of new highways, the modern pattern of suburban residency (in restricted white communities) and commutation was already a fixture by the mid-1920s as tens of thousands of white, suburban commuters streamed in and out daily. Source: Schwartz: “Roth, Race and Newark” and Stellhorn (1982)

9 Newark’s Changing Economy cont.  No longer did workers, owners, and financiers live together in the city: the ruling elite and wealthy professionals vacated the city almost completely -- moving to upscale Essex county bedroom suburbs or down the Jersey shore to Spring Lake (Irish) or Deal (Jewish).  In 1925, the Chamber of Commerce magazine, The Newarker, for example, could review this pattern and claim 'No one lives in Newark.'  By 1925 more than 40% of attorney’s who worked in Newark lived in suburbs. By 1947 it was 63%: 1963, 78%  By 1932 >86% of officers and board member of Newark Chamber of Commerce lived outside Newark.  In general due to automobile: which segregated people and neighborhoods by income, race and lifestyle.

10 Zoning and Newark  In the Central Ward where almost all of the landlords, store owners, and tavern owners were white, the area continued to be zoned as industrial allowing for the highest population densities, the worst city services, the highest crime, and the jumble of tenements, stores, factories, and stables that created the ghetto in the first place.  Newark's population grew from 250,000 in 1900 to 450,000 by the 1930 census. With its city boundaries rigidly fixed and with almost 20 percent of its land uninhabitable, the eighteenth largest city in the country was the third most densely populated, and nowhere more so than the central ward. Source: Schwartz: “Roth, Race and Newark”

11 Newark and Zoning  By contrast, the newer residential districts were developed within residential zoning restrictions and thoughtful urban planning that kept businesses on the main streets, single to four- family houses on the side streets.  In a 1927 front-page article on real estate developer Morris Rachlin, The Jewish Chronicle included background on his development in 1906 of Clinton Hill (some 45 acres and the construction of 152 houses) and said how it was a model of residential planning. Source: Schwartz: “Roth, Race and Newark”

12 Annexation in Newark  Mayor of Newark in 1900 “East Orange, Vailsburg, Harrison, Kearny, and Belleville would be desirable acquisitions. By an exercise of discretion we can enlarge the city from decade to decade without unnecessarily taxing the property within our limits, which has already paid the cost of public improvements.”  But for some reason, Newark delayed and by the 1930s it was too late: Newark started to turn down and wealthy suburbs, rather seeing joining Newark as benefit saw it as a liability.

13 Annexation in Newark cont.  : A plan for Greater Newark developed with projected annexation of much of Essex and Hudson counties and parts of Bergen and Union counties, including the city of Elizabeth.  Newark sought to become the fourth largest city in the United States, ahead of St. Louis in population, manufacturing, banking and property valuation.  The strategic impediment to Newark’s annexation of territory depended on the relative sophistication and maturity of targeted towns’ infrastructure.  Elizabeth’s Water company (founded 1854), drew on the Elizabeth River to fill two reservoirs. In 1889 the company operated forty-six miles of water mains, serving 35,000 individuals. Its capacity was sufficient for foreseeable future development in the eyes of its directors.  In addition, Elizabeth had railroad service since 1836 connecting it to interior towns like Somerville as well as New York City ferries. Its internal street railway dated from Electricity arrived in 1888 and the telephone followed a few years later. Highways to adjacent towns by 1890 boasted macadam or stone pavers, an advantage for "wheeling clubs" and their cycling members. The city circulated seven newspapers in  A strong city infrastructure was the key to the city’s independence and progressive spirit in the early years of the 20th century and a defense against Newark annexation.

14 Annexation in Newark cont.  1869: Newark added Clinton  1871: Woodside  1897: Rest of Clinton township  1905: Vailsburg  The failure to annex more due to was poor municipal leadership  During 1890s Kearny and Harrison were willing to join, but political leaders delayed and towns had grown so that did not want to cede power to Newark.

15 Newark Development cont.  In summary, on the eve of the mass Black migration from the South, Newark was experiencing great stress from its rapid rise as an industrial powerhouse and its decisions regarding zoning, pollution and annexation.  By the 1920s, Newark was mostly a lower middle class, immigrant city, suffering from a tremendous housing shortage, large pollution problems, and rising taxes and expenditures.  As shown in map (handed out), Newark by 1910 was more a city of ethnic enclaves than coherent city.  Nonetheless, because of its industrial economic base Newark remained a tremendous draw to Southern blacks, especially during WWI, after the drop off of European immigration.


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