The city of Newark was founded in 1666, making it one of the first five New Jersey settlements along with Burlington, Jersey City, Swedesboro & Piscatawaytown. This year Newark celebrates its 350th anniversary and just to put that into perspective, this was a mere 40 years after the Pilgrims landed. Newark is old!
To commemorate this historic date, the Newark Public Library is hosting an exhibition entitled Every Block in Newark about its urban planning history. To underscore the difficulty of 350 years of urban planning, understand that inventions like indoor plumbing, steam engines, electricity, mass transit, cars, telephones and air flight all had to be worked around as they were invented and incorporated. That is a huge amount of planning!
The highlight of the installation is a gorgeous and detailed 1:250 scale model of the city that stretches 14 feet. The model features every single building in the city of Newark as well as its road, rail, and waterways. For a point of reference, a 1:250 model means that an average 2-story home would be about 1/8 of an inch. Each color represents a different use of the property. See this handy guide:
The model took several years to build and was only possible with the help of a large swath of Jerseyans to make it possible. The contributing architects were Damon Rich and Jae Shin, both partners of Hector Urban Design, Planning & Civic Arts and Tony Schuman, associate professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Mr. Rich is also the founder of the Urban Center of Pedagogy, a nonprofit organization that uses the power of design and art to increase meaningful civic engagement.
“By making a model of every block of the city, we celebrate and reflect on how Newarkers take ownership of our city as whole. Creating a continuous vision of the city, the model challenges us to learn and care about all of our neighbors in our city.” says Shin.
In addition, there were more than 150 local community members, artists, and other architects that helped make this a reality. The volunteers and helpers consisted of architectural students from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the Mayor’s Office of Arts, People Power Planning Newark, and Newark Celebration 350 to bring the project to life.
The model was built on a base of milled plywood to highlight the hills and valleys of Newark’s cityscape. The more than 30,000 individual models were made from styrene and cardboard.
The Newark Public Library is located at 5 Washington Street and will have the model on display until September 15th after which the exhibit will move to Newark City Hall.
Also on display are geographic quilts and planning materials from the library’s archive as well as original artwork from Newark resident Bisa Washington.
[gmap height=”250px”]5 Washington St, Newark, NJ 07102[/gmap]
5 Washington St, Newark, NJ 07102