Orange Street circa 1907

Orange & GrayThis view of Orange Street is looking west from the front of the St. Rose of Lima School. The iron fence to the left still exists, as does the former Catholic school, which is now a charter school. The current St. Rose of Lima R.C. Church , which would have been out of frame in this photo, would not be constructed until the mid 1920’s. At the time of this photo the parish was worshipping in a frame church on Warren Street (now West Market), that had formerly belonged to the Methodist Church.

When the rural area that became the Roseville section began to develop after the Civil War it became Newark’s first suburb. Orange Street was initially residential in character. Homes were interspersed with an occasional commercial structure. By 1900, the intersection of Orange Street and Roseville Avenue had become the hub of a growing business district. Banks were building their own structures while vacant lots and residential structures were being replaced by two and three story structures with a storefront on the street level and apartments above. Some of these buildings may have been replaced more than once during the early twentieth century. For example, the block we see in partial view on the right became the home of the Tivoli Theater. The theater’s builder purchased a narrow lot on Orange Street where the entrance and ticket booth were located. The balance of the theater was in the middle of the block, which was cheaper land. The entrance would funnel theater goers into the lobby and auditorium. The development of early suburbs and commercial/shopping districts was not unique to Roseville or Newark , it was happening in many urban centers.

Today, Orange Street retains some semblance of vibrant commercial center it once was. Route 280 destroyed many of the structures that formerly lined the street. It’s no surprise really, that with so many buildings gone and so many people displaced, the neighborhood was destabilized Orange Street became a shadow of its former self. In fact, most of the buildings you see in the post card were demolished. In the last twenty five years, those buildings have been replaced by two-family residential buildings and  two apartment houses. One of those apartment houses occupies the site of the Tivoli Theater. While the construction of the new housing has not had a commercial element the business that remains on Orange Street seems stable.

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