Newark’s Fall From Grace and its Potential Rebound
As I walk around the current surroundings near my dorm located within Vodra Hall at New Jersey City University, I find myself rejoicing in my environment filled with life. I frequently hear the pleasant, almost ethereal sound of birds chirping and it never feels old. It kind of reminds me of the scene of the 1937 animated film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” where Snow White herself is singing in a forest, her voice attracting folks of blue jay birds. I immediately begin to think of how the neighborhood within NJCU is an utter contrast to the neighborhood I came from located in Newark, New Jersey. The neighborhood around NJCU had no sight of trash being littered on the ground. The streets are decently paved with no visible sight of potholes or general wear and tear. The air quality seemed significantly better as you didn’t see a constant tint of smog everywhere you walked. To add onto the air quality being far superior to that of my current campus as opposed to my neighborhood in Newark, the air did not reek of foul smelling drugs or strong liquor. The neighborhood circling around Vodra Hall felt like the kind of idyllic community you would see in a 70-80’s family sitcom. The sky was bright with not a gray cloud in sight and the foundation below was clearly being well taken care of. The buildings and plants were vibrant and colorful. All in all, it didn’t seem to be either a dull sight or a complete eyesore that you cannot help but to stare at. It makes me a bit disheartened to know the neighborhood I originally came from has the potential to turn out as beautiful as my surroundings near NJCU if everyone residing within my original neighborhood actually gave a darn, quite frankly.
For this topic, I want to delve into a bit of the history of Newark and what could’ve caused it to regress into its current state and how we might be able to improve it. According to the achieve.pov.org, “The city of Newark, New Jersey, was founded in 1666 by colonists looking to set up a Puritan theocracy. Newark’s industrial boom began in the early to mid-1800s, when it was known for its leather factories and breweries. The construction of the Morris Canal and various railroads turned Newark into a bustling port city. Newark’s insurance industry also took off in the mid-1800s, and today Newark remains the second leading seller of insurance in the nation.” (http://archive.pov.org/streetfight/newark-a-brief-history/#:~:text=The%20city%20of%20Newark%2C%20New,into%20a%20bustling%20port%20city.) As impressive as Newark had begun its upstart, more than a century later, it began a gradual downward spiral. By the late 1950s, the near equal balance of national security and criminal cases was starting to change. “In 1959, the Newark special agent in charge reported that between 1957 and 1958 the office had seen a 32 percent rise in criminal investigations, a 19 percent drop in security cases, and a 16 percent jump in applicant and other investigations.” (https://www.fbi.gov/history/field-office-histories/newark)
Although Newark agents had innovated new ways to combat the rising crime during the 1960s, by the 1970’s, the crime levels had significantly shot up, dealing with around 4,000 different cases annually. From that point on, the cultural influence of the rise of drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, etc., had taken a massive toll on the city’s crime rate, leading to the crime-ridden city it is now known as. I believe if Newark can actually become a better city, we must take the effort to shield the current youth within the city and provide them with opportunities that can avert any possibility of the youth getting involved with drug-related affairs. There are opportunities that the city currently provides such as internships, valuable employment options, etc. For instance, I myself had taken a job position designed to help youth employment rates, a position provided by the partnership between Mars Wrigley and Eurest Corporation. If more entities with larger influence can put their heads together and continue developing new ideas to further progress the youth of our city, we can get Newark out of its slump and see it transform into a much better place to reside in.