Newark & Washington Park in the 19th Century

Newark & Washington Park in the 19th Century (HM1S7T)

Location: Newark, NJ 07102 Essex County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 44.55', W 74° 10.318'

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Newark Museum

OverviewThis land on which the Polhemus House was located (and where the Museum is now) is part of the James Street Commons Historic District, listed in the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places and geographically defined by Washington Park. The James Street Commons Historic District is significant for its association with the development of Newark from its founding in 1666 to its transformation into a vibrant industrial city in the post-Civil War period. The house's period of significance began c 1863—its approximate date of completion—and ended in 1948, the year in which it was sold for commercial use and ceased being the home of the Polhemus family. It was the last remaining 19th-century townhouse on Washington Park.

The house was constructed of load-bearing brick masonry with a timber-framed roof. The primary (east) façade featured bold projecting ornament in the Italianate style. This house set the architectural tone for the affluent homes that ringed Washing Park in the 19th-century.

From Agriculture to Industry
Newark was a rural, mostly agricultural community until the 19th century, when industry gradually took on a larger and larger role in the life of the city. By the time the incorporation of Newark in 1836, the city was teaming with leather-makers, shoemakers, hatters, politics, tin markers, tailors, blacksmiths, masons, carpenters, carriage makers, and the buildings needed to house them. The city's waterfront location, the 1831 opening of the 102-mile Morris Canal across New Jersey linking Phillipsburg to Newark, and the establishment of the New Jersey (NJMRR) and Morris and Essex (M&E) Railroads in the 1830s accelerated mechanization and industrialization.

The 1840s through the 1860s were a period of rapid growth for the city. The 1840s was the beginning of Newark's rise as an industrial center, known for the production of rubber, soap, beer, thread, glue, leather, trunks, shoes, hats, silver, jewelry, cutlery, tobacco products, varnish and fertilizer. Newark's importance as a major manufacturing center brought with it a rapidly expanding population, from 17,290 in 1840 to 181,000 by 1890. Growth was fed by immigration, first from Ireland and Germany, and later from Italy and Eastern Europe. As the state's largest city, as well as its financial and business center, Newark quickly developed from a rural outpost into a dense urban cityscape of industrial and commercial buildings, residences, schools, houses of worship, hospitals, and other institutions, (in the early 20th century Newark's manufacturing opportunities made it a focus of Great Migration of African Americans from the Southern United States.

Residential Neighborhood
The Washing Park neighborhood's 19th century development was very much a reflection of Newark's development into a major industrial city. In the 19th century, before zoning laws segregated uses, the area around the James St. Commons/Washington Park developed as a mix of residential, commercial, and institutional properties. Between the late 1850s and the late 1880s, the resulting rise of the merchant and professional classes created a demand for appropriate housing and commercial and institutional services, including new houses of worship.
20th Century Transition
In the early years of the 20th century, the homes around the park gave way to large-scale commercial and institutional buildings—many of which hare extant today—including the Veterans Administration Building on Washington Place (formerly Globe Indemnity Insurance Co. 1920) and the following buildings on Washington Street: the Newark Public Library (1901), the South Wing of the Newark Museum (formerly the Young Women's Christian Association, 1913), the main building of the Newark Museum (1926), the American Insurance Company Building (1930), and the Second Presbyterian Church (1930), Only Washington Park, St. Patrick's Pro-Cathedral (1849), across Central Avenue to the south, the Fewsmith House (c. 1870), across Washington Street, the Ballantine House (1885) and Carriage House (1885) and the Ward Carriage House (1869) on the Museum campus remain from the Polhemus House's historic residential context.

HM NumberHM1S7T
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, May 16th, 2016 at 9:01am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 569909 N 4510502
Decimal Degrees40.74250000, -74.17196667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 44.55', W 74° 10.318'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 44' 33" N, 74° 10' 19.08" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)973, 201, 862
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 61 Central Ave, Newark NJ 07102, US
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