Vast Network of Roads Spelled Permanent Change for Newark

History and Landscape
Published October 7, 1999

Vast Network of Roads Spelled Permanent Change for Newark

| Published October 7, 1999

When the Pulaski Skyway opened in the early part of the century, it was considered a transportation miracle linking two of New Jersey's most important cities. The Newark Public Library

Here are all sorts of historical detail and data about roads and streets in Newark

Newark's first 'highway' was put together by the New Jersey Assembly in 1765. The Old Plank Road was assembled in 1784, and the first municipal campaign against street encroachments was begun in 1810. In 1834 we first established a street numbering system, and when Newark was incorporated as a city in 1836, the first horse cars went into operation and the Morris Canal was completed. The Newark Plank Road and Ferry Company was founded in 1849 and the Plank Road from Newark to Irvington was constructed in 1853. It is thought that the first paved road was completed at Park Place in 1840. By 1853, Academy Street was to follow. Broad Street was a dirt road until 1853, although some unsuccessful attempts were made to pave it with wooden plank before that time. In 1853 it was paved with cobblestone. In 1969 wooden block (Nicholson type) was used in several sections. An asphalt experiment was tried in 1870, while granite blocks were laid on a sand foundation in various parts of the street between 1914 and 1919. Sheet asphalt was laid on top of an old concrete base in 1925.

If these facts were not enough for you, here are some more. Bergen Street and Raymond Boulevard are the longest streets, each being more than three miles. The shortest street is Hudson Avenue, which is only 39 feet. Broad Street is still the widest with a width of 132 feet. The narrowest is Nutria Street of only 12 feet. The average width of a city street is 56.5 feet. The highest street elevation is Mt. Vernon Place in Ivy Hill at 251 feet above sea level, and the lowest is South Street at Van Buren with an elevation above mean high water at 1.1 feet. There are more than 810 streets and approximately 2,700 intersections. In the 1930s, 8.93 per cent of the city's land area was paved. Today, it is considerably more. The approximate geographic center of town is the southeast corner of Orchard and Chestnut streets while Broad and Market streets is considered the traditional or psychological downtown center.

In the 1930s, the total length of Newark's paved streets was 352.36 miles or 7,272,438 yards. Their estimated value 62 years ago was more than $13 million. At that time, state highway construction was only 14.61 miles. That figure is a fraction of what exists today after you add Route 280, Route 78, the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. All this paving over of the earth's surface may also account in some slight bit for our changing weather pattern. In addition to the city streets, Newark also has many county streets and avenues as well as roads that wind through the two county parks at Branch Brook and Weequahic.