All photos featured herein are used solely to illustrate the subject, and are consistent with fair use doctrine. It’s really hard to find vintage, public domain photographs of the park!
Once upon a time, Newark was a lovely, safe, beautiful city, not regarded as a run-down, dangerous crime pit. Ivy Hill Park was part of this beautiful, idyllic landscape.
Ivy Hill was part of South Orange Township (later renamed Maplewood) until 1890, when the city of Newark bought the land. In 1926, Newark annexed another 110 acres. The park itself was purchased from Newark by the Essex County Parks Commission in 1927. There was a clear, strong need for recreation in light of the expanding population.
The 18.86-acre park was designed by the Olmsted Brothers firm, like almost every other Essex County park created since the 1890s. The acreage increased slightly over the years, and reached its final size of 18.96 acres in 1938. The Works Progress Administration (a New Deal program) was responsible for many improvements and developments during those Depression years.
The park features a concert area; fields for football, soccer, softball, and hardball; tennis courts; a basketball court; a wading pool; a playground; and plenty of green spaces for walking and picnicking. It abuts Seton Hall University, though there’s a rarely-opened chain-link fence separating them. Regardless, many students frequently use the park. In exchange, Seton Hall is required to lease an acre of their tennis courts to Essex County.
In September 1951, Ivy Hill broke ground on a new apartment complex, and in November 1952, tenants began moving in. Many Seton Hall students, immigrants, and retirees live here. The apartments, dubbed “Little United Nations” by residents, hold over 10,000 people.
Today, Ivy Hill is home to Newark’s last active Jewish community, though it’s far different from the golden age of Jewish Newark. More about that tomorrow.
Source; Credit Assie Bangura
My characters who settle in Newark after the war often take their children to play in Ivy Hill Park, and the distant relatives of Eszter and Mirjam who made all of their immigration possible live a stone’s throw from the park, in the Vailsburg section of the West Ward. More about Vailsburg on the V day!