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A Walk Through Newark - with David Hartman and Historian Barry Lewis
History of Newark See the Sites About the Program Resources
A Walk Through Newark - with David Hartman and Historian Barry Lewis History of Newark Join thirteen recieve a gift
Colonial Founding
Industrial Revolution
The Riots
2002 and Beyond

Built in the 1820s, the Morris Canal (below) was one of numerous thoroughfares that made Newark an industrial capital.
After the Revolutionary War, cottage industries that had begun developing along Broad Street in the late 1600s were spurred by Newark's first major business, leather tanning.

Bark from the locally abundant tamarack trees provided tannin for leather tanning, and with the completion of the Morris Canal in the 1830s, the development of the Essex Railroad, the turnpikes between Newark and Elizabeth, Belleville, New Brunswick, Springfield and Pompton, and Newark Bay, Newark was situated in the middle of a burgeoning modern transportation network.

Officially achieving city status in 1836, Newark was suddenly the epicenter of one of the nation's major industrial hubs. In 1770, there was one leather tannery in Newark. In 1792, there were three. By 1837, there were 155 patent leather manufacturers in the city, producing an amount of leather then-valued at $899,200. Besides the production of leather for shoes, Newark manufactured carriages, coaches, lace, and hats. Founded in Newark in 1840, the Ballantine Brewing plants covered 12 acres in the1880s, making it the sixth largest brewer in the nation. The city was also known for its cider and quarries.

In the 1800s, the city's industrial boom was made possible by the first wave of immigrants moving to Newark. Specifically, the Irish came to the area in the 1820s to work on the construction of the Morris Canal, which at its peak carried 899,220 tons of freight through a system of 23 water-powered inclined planes and 34 locks that climbed 914 feet above sea level across New Jersey. German immigrants began arriving in the 1840s and '50s as refugees of the failed revolution of 1848. By 1865, a third of Newark's population was of German descent, and between 1840 and 1870, Newark's population increased from 17,290 to 105,000.

Many nineteenth century European immigrants settled in the Ironbound neighborhood, just southeast of Penn Station.
African Americans began moving to Newark in the late 1800s, and especially during the World War I factory boom. Almost 22,000 blacks arrived between 1920 and 1930. War-related industry prompted another boom in the African American community, which tripled in size between 1940 and 1960, at that point 34 percent of Newark's population. As many former Newarkers moved to the suburbs, African Americans composed 54 percent of the city's population by 1970.

Newark's industrial boom attracted enterprising inventors like Thomas Edison, who created the ticker tape machine while in Newark. Seth Boyden invented the process for making patent leather and malleable iron, in addition to developing a hat-forming machine and an inexpensive process for manufacturing sheet iron. John W. Hyatt developed celluloid (for camera film), which he went into the business of selling with his brothers in 1872. D. Edward Weston's Weston Electrical Instrument Company created the Weston standard cell, the first accurate portable voltmeters and ammeters, the first portable lightmeter, and many other electrical developments. Such developments helped the city enter early into the manufacture of plastics, electrical goods, and chemicals.

The intersection of Broad and Market was one of the busiest in America.
Manufacturing wasn't the only big business in town, either. In 1804, the Newark Banking and Insurance Company opened, followed by the Newark Mutual Assurance Company (The Newark Fire Insurance Company) in 1810, and the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company in 1845. John F. Dryden founded the Prudential Insurance Company in Newark in 1875.

The Civil War hit Newark hard. The city had been exporting a sizable portion of its goods to the South, and the war forced Newark to change its focus from commercial trade to government contracts. The Great Depression dealt another blow to Newark's manufacturing industry, forcing many out of work and establishing a trend of suburban-bound exodus.

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