We are excited to share with you an important Newark Neighborhood, and its exhibition, The James Street Commons Historic District. This vibrant pedestrian friendly neighborhood, was the city of Newark’s, first established historic district, and its residents have been in the forefront of preserving Newark historic assets. A neighborhood and community that sometimes gets over shadow due to it’s location in the downtown section of Newark, with its businesses and cultural institutions, The James Street Commons Historic District consist of 26 blocks, which include both The James Street Common (residential areas), and the Halsey Village (mixed used). The name Commons was derived by its location to Washington Park, the third oldest park in the country, which was called the Commons, an old English terms used to describe public spaces such as parks the public.
In August of last year, The James Street Commons community finally received its due, historically speaking. President Obama’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation converged on Newark and it was designated as National “Preserve America Community, (along with the Ironbound district). Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Transportation; U.S. General Services Administration; National Endowment for the Humanities; President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities; Institute of Museum and Library Services; and the President’s Council on Environmental Quality.
The vice chair of that council happens to be one of Newark’s most distinguished citizens, Rutgers Professor Clement Price. “A lot of people I spent most of the day with for the first time they’ve seen the grandeur of Broad Street, the beauty of the University Heights area. Today, we went to the first historic district in Newark and that’s an area called the James Street Commons.” Located in Newark’s Central Ward, historic James Street Commons is in the midst of a downtown district comprised of three major universities, a major art museum and a major public library.
According to Price, the recognition of these sites will have an impact beyond the city.
“I think it will give people who live in Princeton and people who live in Woodbridge and our fellow New Jerseyans who live in South Jersey, they might just say ‘you know something our neighborhood is old and we should act accordingly and we should be its stewards.’”
On Wednesday, an exhibits on James Street Common will open officially at the Newark Public Library. The exhibit arranged and co-curated by Dr. Clement Price and Robin Foster. Will feature historic documents and archive of this neighborhoods and the people who have restored their properties and built a community, that has resulted in a vibrant community and neighborhood that throughout the years have created a very strong civic responsibility and a commitment to improve their neighbor.
Exhibition will be opened on Wednesday June 12, at Newark Public Library at 6:pm, then explore this community.
Below is a video clip describing the James Street Community.
One of James Street long time activist Bill Chappel wrote the following note.
Your words mean a great deal to those of us who strive to live our lives in a most wonderful neighborhood the Historic James St Commons Historic District. Our neighborhood is often the most visible Newark neighborhood to those who visit our many wonderful downtown attractions. Our neighborhood is often the only Newark neighborhood that outsiders see thereby presenting an opportunity to dispel any outdated preconceived notions that they may have of our city.