Prince Street was Newark’s version of New York’s lower east side. It was here that Newark’s Jewish population was concentrated in the early part of the twentieth century. Mostly poor, the residents lived in crowded cold water flats. The buildings all had a similar layout- retail on the street level and flats above. While sanitary facilities were limited in these buildings, Montgomery Street had a public bath house for the use of neighborhood.

Many stores had items displayed on the sidewalk under their awnings. You could by anything from a kosher chicken to new pots and pans. Bargains abounded and the variety was unsurpassed! Some of these stores remained  in business until the 1960’s, still providing bargains, long after their original clientele had departed.

Many of the residents were of Eastern European origin, unlike the previous wave of Jewish immigrants who had been primarily German. Already well established , the German Jews sent up various organizations and charitable societies to help their newly arrived brethren learn English and acclimate to their new homeland.

Very few of the structures visible in the post cards featured in this post still exist. One notable exception is, 32 Prince Street, the headquarters of The Newark Conservancy which occupies a former synagogue ,that was constructed in 1884. The building later became a church. In 1995 it was saved from demolition by a group of citizen activists. They created the beautiful garden and classroom building on the site where they provide environmental education, create urban farms, provide job training and so on.

As an aside, both post cards were printed in Germany which was the norm prior to WWI. The name “Newark” is spelled as “Mewark” in the lead card in this post. I wondered why the card wasn’t returned to the vendor and corrected. That story is truly lost to history. Perhaps they simply said:” Oh just use the card no one will ever notice”!


One thought on “PRINCE STREET NEWARK,NJ 1905

  1. My grandparents lived on Prince Street. When I was a young boy in the Fifties, they had bought the building that they had occupied earlier as recent immigrants and moved to Orange Avenue in Irvington, just up the road on Springfield Avenue. My grandfather wanted to own land and farm which he couldn’t do in Poland.

    Their building on Prince Street had two commercial spaces, and if one tenant left, they ran the business until another tenant could be found. At various times, they ran the Ideal Dairy Kosher Restaurant (not certain of the name), a millinery store and a butcher shop. I have a showcase from the millinery shop in my home.

    In the Sixties or Seventies the property was condemned by the City of Newark and bought to acquire land for public housing. My grandmother felt that she was seriously underpaid for her property. I felt that if the buildings were going to be torn down that what was built on the land should be beautiful and at a minimum provide decent housing. I was very disappointed at how ugly the buildings that were finally constructed were. They became instant slums.

    Those new towers were illustrations of everything that was wrong with America’s vision of public housing. To paraphrase current events: Black lives didn’t matter. I recently read Isabel Wilkerson’s Book, The Warmth of Other Suns. Throughout my childhood, I never realized that I was living through The Great Migration of black people to the North. I did feel sorry for the people who lived in those buildings, and I felt sad for my grandmother who had lost a momento of her youth to the wrecker’s ball.

    I currently live in Canada.


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