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Newari's 250th Anniversary Celebration :
Its Historic Features
finds a place in such a celebration, but who can say We have become accustomed in recent years to na- but that this and other features of a similar character tional and State celebrations stretching over long did not serve a useful purpose in emphasizing the periods of time, but there is something quite unique manifold activities of the city, and in enabling its and out of the ordinary in a civic celebration of five citizens to appreciate its true place in the world of months' duration. With the last day of October, to-day? 1916, the city of Newark, N. J., brought to a close the celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the city by Robert Treat and his little band
1666 of Puritan emigrants. From May 1, when a salvo of guns, the ringing of bells and the blowing of whistles announced the opening of the celebration until the last episode in the program was over, there was no apparent diminution of interest on the part of the citizens in these commemorative exercises. A city like Newark, with a past stretching far back to the days of the Puritan pioneer and located in a region so closely identified with our national life ought, and in point of · fact does furnish an unusual amount of material of a character to stimulate local pride. and patriotic interest in connection with a celebration of this character. The municipal authorities perhaps appreciated this in setting aside a period of such length for this particular celebration. The problem presented was not merely that of selecting material from the past, but of emphasizing those aspects of the city's development which would awaken civic pride and develop that community spirit so desirable in a truly great city. The problem was the more difficult of solution in view of the apparently revolutionary changes which have swept the life of the city since the days of its Puritan
ADOLPH forebears. A modern center of industry and commerce with a cosmopolitan popula
250° ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION tion drawn from all quarters of the globe does not lend itself readily to projects of this character. To properly interest the M A Y . O C T O B E R - IOIO community every element in the body politic must be aroused to activity; every organ NEWARK'S sinon PRIZE POSTER and every part must be made to function. This may explain the varied character of the
THE GENESIS OF THE CELEBRATION. program, and the apparent deviation from the purely
The interest displayed by the citizen body in historic which at times marked the course of the ex
carrying out the elaborate program planned by their ercises. It is a far cry from the erection of a statue
committee which was known as the Committee of One commemorating the landing of Robert Treat and his
Hundred was the culmination of a series of efforts companions to holding games where athletes from all stretching over the ten vears immediately preceding parts of the country strive together in friendly rivalry the celebration. It is very doubtful whether the same on field and track; it may be difficult to see just where enthusiasm and the same spirit of co-operation would a parade of the Ancient and Honorable Order of Elks have manifested itself had it not been for this pre
Copyright, 1915, by Committee of One Hundred.
paratory work. Several things may be cited as contributing to this final result, not the least of which was the educational campaign initiated by the Newark Public Library, through its efficient head, Mr. John Cotton Dana. The interest in all things pertaining to the city, which was stimulated by this institution was still further conserved when the library authorities prevailed upon Mr. Frank Urquhardt, of the “Newark Call,” to prepare two pamphlets covering Newark's entire history (1904, 1906). These were written in such a way as to interest the boys and girls of the public schools. The Board of Education was now prevailed upon to introduce the study of Newark into the schools. A course was therefore arranged covering its geography, industries, history and government—a comparatively easy task in view of the previous activity of the Library in gathering material. This was put in permanent form by the school authorities in a volume entitled, “Newark Study.” A course was also prepared for the high schools; this took the form of a study of municipal problems, and was based upon a series of pamphlets dealing with the police system, city cleaning, city planning, etc., etc.; in fact, the city of Newark may be counted as one
Copyright by Underwood & Underwood
of the pioneers in this field among the great cities of the East. About this time, 1910, a city planning commission was appointed. Although it was unable to point to any considerable achievement aside from the publication of a report, it directed a more general attention to the city and its problems. The following year, 1911, the Schoolmen's Club of the city erected the first of a series of tablets commemorating the more striking episodes in Newark's history. This movement would not have aroused the interest which it did, had it not been for an arrangement which the club made with the Board of Education, by which the boys and girls in the schools were given the opportunity of contributing to a penny fund for the erection of these tablets. A special day had by this time been set apart in the schools for emphasizing the 'significance of Newark (1909), and “Newark Day,” as it was called, was selected for the erection of the tablet and the collection of the pennies. These tablets have cost on an average $150 apiece, and in each case the bulk of the expense has been borne by the children. As was perhaps appropriate for the first venture of this kind, they succeeded to mark the home of John Catlin, the first schoolmaster in Newark. They have
since marked the original lot which his fellow-citizens community draws its deepest inspiration, and it is to set apart for Robert Treat, and the home of Moses them that it looks for results of an abiding character. Combs, a revolutionary patriot, and the founder of This was realized at the very outset when the judges the leather industry.
in the poster contest awarded the prize of $1,000 to Within this same period, thanks to the generosity the now familiar poster of Robert Treat setting foot of Amos Van Horn, a successful business man who upon the shores of the Passaic at the head of his litsought to give back to the city some of the wealth tle band of pilgrims. The episode was made famous which it had helped to create, two handsome statues throughout the country by the issue of thousands of were erected, the one representing Washington as he poster stamps. was about to take leave of his army at Rocky Hill
THE EPHEMERAL VS. THE PERMANENT FEATURES OF near Princeton, and the other of Lincoln, the work of
THE CELEBRATION. Gustave Borglum, the well-known sculptor. With
There were features of this celebration which were the work launched by the Schoolmen's Club, the city was already in a fair way to fix for all time the great
essentially ephemeral in character; there were others episodes connected with its past.
which will always remain to convey their lesson of
patriotic endeavor, and to serve as incentives to future To re-enforce these efforts, the Newark Public
citizens. To the first group belong the various meetLibrary began the publication in 1912 of a monthly journal known as the “Newarker,” and its staff de
ings, festivals and parades, the industrial exhibit, the
school exhibit and the great pageant; to the latter, the voted themselves heart and soul to the exploitation of
numerous tablets, and statues and the proposed the city. It may, therefore, fairly be said that the
memorial building for which the city bonded itself to ground had been thoroughly prepared for the crown
the amount of $1,500,000. ing efforts of the past year to fittingly celebrate the
The city was enriched during the course of the celerounding out of two centuries and a half of civic life.
bration by at least five commemorative tablets, three Little difficulty was experienced in securing the
groups of statuary and a magnificent replica of the needed funds, the citizens contributing $250,000,
famous equestrian statue by Verocchio of the Con$1,000 for each year of its history, in addition to the
dottiere Bartolommeo Colleoni. $1,500,000 to be spent on the memorial building. Several citizens were stimulated to do something on
THE ERECTION OF TABLETS. their own account—a spirit which was shared by On May 10 the Congregational Conference of New many societies who vied with each other in honoring Jersey meeting in Newark, unveiled a tablet to the themselves and their city.
memory of the founders of the community who were A celebration of this character arouses interest and of the Congregational faith. This same date witfunctions primarily in connection with those incidents nessed the dedication of three monuments made possiwhich center about its past. It is from them that the ble by the generosity of the entire citizen body acting
through their Committee of One Hundred. One of
East Face. these marks the actual landing place of Robert Treat The first church and training place were located and his followers, and stands in the neighborhood of just below this spot beginning at Broad Street. The the Park Place Terminal—the Jersey outlet of the founders, one by one. were laid to rest behind the great McAdoo tunnel system. It is a monolith show- church, from whence their bones were removed to ing the two founders in low relief on the southern Fairmount Cemetery in 1887-'89. face, gazing down at a spring of water, which bubbles up to sate the weary traveler. At the top is a scene
South Face. of the landing carved in relief and extending about all The ground eastward at church or court house was four sides. The other face carried the inscription, long the rallying place for the people in times of and gives the names of the sixty-four signers of the danger and in moments of popular uprising. It was Fundamental Agreements—the founders. The second the town's centre; its citadel. There the “ Town's of these marks the site of the town's market place, and Mind” was fixed on all great questions. commemorates the bridging of the rivers. It is in the
North Face. form of an isle of safety with large electroliers, and
In the second church building close by the original is located near the Newark Library. On the east face
one the first commencement of Princeton College was a Puritan is carved in relief; on the west, and facing
held, in 1748, when six students were awarded diplothe mountains, is an Indian. The inscriptions run as
mas. Many of those graduated while the college was follows: East Face.
in Newark were leaders in the war for American in
dependence. The bridging of the rivers eastward and the rude
West Face. road built across the marsh was an enterprise of
The children of the first generation, when grown, patriotic citizens, an epoch-making event. It awoke
soon turned their faces westward, and took up land. the industries and made the present city possible.
near the mountain. Later, others settled still furWest Face.
ther west and northward, gradually occupying Essex The founders set aside the park nearby as the County and beyond. Newark may truly be called town's market place. Never has it been put to any “Mother of Towns.” use other than for the common good. To the north On May 20, the pupils of the South Side High and westward the Indians lingered, as if reluctant to School, “ feeling that their location in the southern depart.
end of the city laid upon them this pleasant duty," The third of these monuments, that on Branford erected a tablet on Divident Hill, which with the WeePlace, marks four interesting episodes in the city's quahic stream marked the boundary between Newark history as the inscriptions indicate. These run as fol- and the older settlement of Elizabethtown. This tablows:
let purchased with funds furnished partly by the gen
eral organization of the school and partly by a voluntary collection, bears the following inscription: “Before the coming of the white man this hill and the nearby stream marked the boundary between the lands of the Hackensack and the Raritan tribes of the Lenni-Lenape. May 20, 1668, representatives of Newark and Elizabeth gathered here and fixed the same boundary to separate the two young settlements. The stream called by the Indians, Weequahic, was thereafter known as Bound Creek, and this eminence was named Divident Hill.” The Daughters of the American Revolution took advantage of the celebration to mark the cite of the training place established in 1669, “and used for the purpose at city call to defend the rights and liberties of our country.” The Barringer High School and the Newark Academy also seized the opportunity when interest was keen in local history, to mark in the one case the home of Moses Hedden, the Revolutionary patriot, and in the other, the site of the original academy building which was burned by the British in 1780, when they directed a raid against Newark from New York. The last of these tablets was dedicated by the Schoolmen's Club who selected Lincoln's stop in Newark on his way to the capital in 1861 as an incident worthy of a permanent record. From some points of view the acquisition of the Colleoni statue, the gift of Mr. Christian Feigenspan, was the crowning episode of this character, heralded as it was far and wide throughout the country and
possessing such deep significance in its relation to the artistic and aesthetic future of the municipality. It is located in one of the most attractive sections of the city—a most impressive sight to the beholder. One of the greatest enterprises connected with these commemorative exercises was the raising of funds for the memorial building, the selection and acquisition of a proper site, and the planning and construction of the building. The most difficult question is that of determining what purposes shall be served by the building. It is probable that some part of it will serve as an art museum and other portions given over to a community theatre and an auditorium. It is barely possible that it may house the Newark Museum Association now cared for by the public library authorities. When we consider the more transient features of the celebration such as the exercises of Founders' Day, the industrial exhibit, the school parade, the pageant and the school exhibit we are more and more impressed with the essential unity and complementary character of the program. The stone and bronze were simply the embodiment in more permanent form of this same civic patriotism and lofty idealism which found their momentary expression in the form of pageant, parade, and exhibit. The one expression would have been incomplete without the other. The bronze and stone will therefore do more than simply remind the passerby of the particular episode commemorated. To those who took an active part in these events they will not only bring back that par