Countdown: Here are BrickCityLive.com’s top 10 stories of 2014!

It’s the time of year when we begin taking stock and counting down. 2014 been a fantastic year for BrickCityLive.com. This was our first full year of operation, and we’re so grateful for every visitor who has read, commented on, and shared our content about what’s new in Newark.

In that vein, we plundered our site data to pull out the top 10 most-trafficked stories of 2014. We’d like to send a very heartfelt thank you to our incomparable editorial summer intern, Brian Pujada, and to contributors Halashon Sianipar, Ilie Mitaru and Owen Petrie (whose blog Insightful Riot you should check out), whose sharp analyses about Newark made it to the top of this list.

Without further ado, here are BrickCityLive.com’s top ten stories of 2014.

10: Our “Brickipedia” entry on crime statistics


Sadly, 2014 has been another gut-wrenching year in Newark in terms of violent crime and murders. With the grim headlines about felled Newarkers being published every few days – the reported homicide count for 2014 stands at 93 people as of this publishing – we wanted to take a step back to offer readers a closer look at what crime statistics reported in the news actually mean, and what questions you should ask when encountering crime statistics about Newark, or any other place. Read full story.

 

9. Newark-born app wins South by Southwest pitch competition


Newarkers were proud to learn that local entrepreneur Taseen Peterson and his partners won a pitch competition at South by Southwest this spring for their productivity app Notefuly. At the time we posted the article, Peterson, who moved to Newark from Elizabeth at age 13 and subsequently attended Seton Hall University, was looking to move back to Newark in order to live closer to its burgeoning tech community. We’re happy to report that he’s since made that move. Read full story.

 

8. Newark-area entrepreneurs to ‘Converge’ on new pop-up coworking space downtown


The temporary coworking space launched at SEED Gallery downtown, and was open on Thursdays for current and aspiring entrepreneurs to work on their businesses. The launch of the coworking space was indicative of a need to find centralized places for enterprising Newarkers to share knowledge, collaborate on projects, and learn from more seasoned entrepreneurs and professionals. This fall, =Space (pronounced “Equal Space”) launched further up Market Street to offer similar services on a daily basis. Read full story.

 

7. Reaction to the passing of Dr. Clement Price

The sudden passing of Rutgers professor Dr. Clement Price came as a shock to many, both in town and in the broader academic community. In this piece, we gathered reactions to Dr. Price’s passing in the hours and days after the initial reports. Money quote: “We won’t need to ‘wait and see’ to know that Dr. Price’s passing is a profound loss not only for his loved ones and those he touched within the classroom and his professional orbit, but for the city of Newark, and the way we understand the city’s past and its application to our present and future. Dr. Price was incredibly generous about transmitting his knowledge and insight – it was his life’s work – but he was nonetheless a font of knowledge and experience that will never be replicated.” Read full story.

 

6. Black like…? In a largely black city, the mayor’s race is being cast along very blurred racial lines


Remember the election? If you’re like us, it seems like it was decided a lot longer ago than just this past May. In this op-ed piece published in the thick of the race, writer Owen Petrie discusses the racial politics in an election between two Newark-born black men. And the piece has legs — we think the themes explored here will be worth revisiting as Mayor Baraka’s term in office unfolds: how will his actions and policies measure up to the preconceptions and assumptions noted in this piece a year, two years, and a full term after it was published? Read full story, and read more from Petrie at his website, Insightful Riot.

 

5. Beyonce and Jay-Z spotted in Newark

How does a piece that clocks in at a mere 44 words make it to the top half of our top ten list? Because it’s about Bey-Z. Actually, it’s about Jayonce’s mother/in-law, who opened a restaurant in Newark this year named Diamondz N Da Rough. The restaurant seems tucked away in its location on Clay Street, but it’s actually a pretty straight shot from Route 21/McCarter Highway. Read full (44-word) story.

 

4. Note to reporters: your Newark clichés are officially played out

Prompted by what some might see as a throwaway caption in a Bloomberg article about Mayor Ras Baraka, BrickCityLive.com editor Andaiye Taylor had had enough. In this open letter to her fellow journalists, she urges them to stop reporting on the city using worn out clichés and, more nefariously, by purposefully framing the city in ways that adhere to played out narratives. The article struck a nerve with readers — even Senator Cory Booker weighed in to cosign the sentimentRead full story.

 

3. New residential development downtown Newark attracts ‘price refugees’ from the region

In this video by journalist Ilie Mitaru, we accompany a New York executive who lives in Harlem as he tours a Market Street loft, and talk to a Fidelco Realty executive about why the time seems to be ripe for a residential comeback downtown Newark. What does downtown Newark offer in the way of residential life that New York doesn’t? Watch above to find out!

 

2. Dear Cami Anderson


In his thoughtful piece, former Newark public school educator Halashon Sianipar reacts to Cami Anderson’s education plan. The piece foreshadows an impassioned challenge from some of Newark’s parents, politicians, and community members to the plan: some of them filed state and federal civil rights complaints just before the 2014-2015 school year began. Read full story.

 

1. Dear Ras Baraka

Sianipar was the only author to top himself when he penned another open letter later in the year – this time to Ras Baraka, who had been his choice for mayor. In this piece, Sianipar offers points of praise and of constructive critique, including of some of the vagueness in the Newark Promise plan Baraka endorsed (though Sianipar agreed with the spirit of the plan), the anti-loitering proposal in Baraka’s crime plan, and Baraka’s aversion to “Brick City” as a nickname for Newark (we. did. not. put. him. up. to. that…but we agree!). He was also curious about Baraka’s musical proclivities: “What hip-hop do you still bump?” Sianipar asked. (We’re still waiting for an answer.) Read full story.

 

Traveler’s Newark: Preservation and Landmarks committee to run tour of historic Newark churches

In the spirit of the holiday season, the Newark Landmarks and Preservation Committee will be running a bus tour of five historical churches in Newark on December 28, starting at noon. The tour will meet in front of the Newark Museum and showcase churches dating to the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

Tour stops include:

Old First Presbyterian Church, 820 Broad Street. Founded in 1966, the site is also burial ground to three 19th-century U.S. Congressmen and an 18th-century member of the Continental Congress. The tour will include a light repast with the church congregation.

First Baptist Peddie Memorial, 572 Broad Street. The domed church was completed in 1890 and contains elements of Byzantine, Roman, Moorish, and Gothic architecture. Its construction was financed by two-term Newark mayor Thomas Baldwin Peddie.

St. Lucy’s Roman Catholic Church, 118 7th Avenue in the city’s North Ward. The church broke ground in 1925 and opened in December 1926 in the Old First Ward, which was at the time a neighborhood dominated by Italian-Americans.

The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, 89 Ridge Street. This towering gothic cathedral in Forest Hill is the fifth largest in North America. Construction began in 1899, but the church wasn’t dedicated until 1954. The church was the site of a visit by Pope John Paul II in 1995, when it was elevated from cathedral to basilica.

House of Prayer Episcopal Church and Rectory, 407 Broad Street. The church was built around in 1850 as a “Mission Church” for Episcopal worshipers. End-of-tour refreshments at the historical Plume House will follow.

Tickets for the five-hour tour cost $35, and can be purchased online via PayPal link at the bottom of the tour’s information page.

 

TiqIQ December entertainment forecast: Arena ticket prices in Newark

The second half of December will bring a number of big events to Newark’s Prudential Center. A mix of sports and music will be among the demanded events for the remainder of the month on the secondary market.

According to TiqIQ, the most expensive event at Prudential Center through the end of the year will be a December 29 game between the New Jersey Devils and the Pittsburgh Penguins. That average price for the game is currently $172.96 on the secondary market with a get-in price of $56 The game will be the second most expensive Devils home game on the secondary market, following only the home opener against the San Jose Sharks on December 18. That game had an average price of $177.52. The game against the Penguins will also be 84% above the average price for the next most expensive game in December against the Washington Capitals on the 20th.

For the holiday season, Trans-Siberian Orchestra will be playing two concerts on Sunday, December 21. The shows, one at 3pm and one at 8pm, will include The Christmas Attic album in it’s entirety, which the band has not done before in concert. Some of the songs on the album have never been played before live. The other part of the show will be TSO’s more iconic songs. The 8pm show is currently the more expensive showtime on the secondary market with an average price of $146.34 and get-in price of $55. The afternoon show has a lower average price of $138.25, but a higher get-in price of $60.

On New Year’s Eve, Seton Hall will take on St. John’s in one of the biggest local college basketball games. The average price for the game is currently $88.34 on the secondary market with a get-in price of $30. The game is third most expensive home game for Seton Hall behind a game against Rutgers earlier in the month and a February 10 game against Georgetown, which currently has an average price of $106.29.

Below are the prices for the top December events on the secondary market.


 Buy tickets smart. Purchase tickets for Devils games and other Prudential Center events on TiqIQ.com.

Newark Winterfest schedule through Christmas Day

Here is the latest schedule of events for Newark Winterfest, which kicked off last Monday, December 8. See the dates below for Winterfest events through Christmas.

The holiday festival is across the street from the Prudential Center at Championship Plaza, located at Mulberry Street between Market Street and Edison Place. All festival events take place between 3:00 p.m. and 7 :00p.m.

Tuesday, December 16

  • 3 p.m.: Winterfest Marketplace
  • 5 p.m.: Hypnotist Comedian

Wednesday, December 17

  • 5 p.m.: NJ Devils FanFest

Thursday, December 18

  • 3 p.m. Horse and carriage rides
  • 5 p.m. Holiday Carolers

Friday, December 19

  • 5 p.m.: NJ Devils FanFest

Saturday, December 20

  • 5 p.m.: NJ Devils FanFest

Monday, December 22

  • 3 p.m.: Live music by Christopher Dean Band

Tuesday, December 23

  • 5 p.m.: NJ Devils FanFest

Be sure to tag your #Winterfest photos – perhaps they’ll turn up in our “Best of” recap!

 

With Indian-infused burger joint, Newark economic development pro builds the type of business he once tried to attract

Check out our Halsey Street story map for more articles and previews in this series, and stay tuned to Facebook, Twitter, and our homepage for updates on new stories.

It’s mid-November in Newark, and Kai Campbell is getting ready to realize a dream: the opening of his and his wife Tamara’s new burger joint on his beloved Halsey Street.

That makes Campbell, a third generation Newarker, just the latest small business owner to launch a venture on Halsey Street, a corridor that, thanks in part to its prime location sandwiched just east of University Heights and west of Broad Street, has become a hub of downtown redevelopment.

“It was always my intent to save where I’m from,” said Campbell in an interview conducted in late October, as he oversaw construction at Burger Walla, the Campbells’ unique burger spot. Burger Walla opened its doors to the public with a soft launch on December 2.

Campbell, 33, is a University of Virginia graduate who has spent much of his post-collegiate life trying to bring big businesses to his hometown. He’s held several economic development jobs with the city, and was also was the former Senior Associate of Real Estate for Brick City Development Corporation. “I’ve met with every major retailer you can think of,” he said of his quest to bring business to the city.

Now he’s bringing business in a different way — by launching one himself. Along with his wife, Campbell also runs NewarkPulse.com, a local website that mainly focuses on positive news stories in and around Newark. They’re a true family about Newark: in addition to publishing about the city and launching a business here, Campbell, his wife, and their toddler and newborn live in town, as well.

One factor that can make it tough to attract businesses to Halsey Street and downtown Newark, Campbell said, is that they see Rutgers and NJIT as commuter schools, and consequently assume the coveted student population does not venture past Washington Street. But Campbell thinks Halsey Street is a good investment, and that he can get students to consistently cross that invisible border. “This is the epicenter of where development can take off,” Campbell said.


Social media users review Burger Walla



Thus Burger Walla, an Indian-influenced burger joint that serves everything from beef burgers and flat grilled hot dogs to shrimp and chicken burgers infused with Indian spices. The restaurant also offers an Indian drink called a “lassi,” akin to a traditional milkshake. “Instead of using ice cream, we’re going to use yogurt,” said Campbell.

Why Indian-inspired fare?

For one, Campbell loves Indian food, and he believes others who haven’t yet tried it will love it too if they give it a chance. “People don’t know that they like Indian food,” he mused. “I think by me putting a twist on burgers, which everybody can recognize, I think they’ll be more receptive to Indian food,” he added.

Campbell said the restaurant’s Indian elements are authentic. “I’ve flown halfway around the world to go to a single Indian restaurant before,” he said. In addition, his wife Tamara Campbell is of Indian descent.

The menu is also infused with a couple tastes of New Jersey and the couple’s beloved Brick City: Best hot dogs, Boylan sodas (Best Provision recently celebrated its 75th anniversary in Newark; Boylan Bottling Company was born in New Jersey over a century ago.)

In addition to offering unique food, the Campbells are also looking to infuse their restaurant with a distinct culture fit for a popular neighborhood hangout spot. Campbell said he hopes Burger Walla’s ambiance will keep college students and other community members coming back. “Every Monday night we’re going to be showing independent films,” he said.  Along with the movie nights, they also plan to offer viewings of sports events, outdoor dining — weather permitting — and live music.


Find Burger Walla on Facebook and Twitter for updates on events, and check their website for the restaurant’s menu and blog.

 

New Community Corporation opens new on-site health center at Commons Senior

Newark’s most vulnerable residentsseniors and the disabledliving at New Community Corporation will now have increased access to health care services just steps from their own front door.

New Community today marks the grand opening of its on-site health clinic at Commons Senior, 140 South Orange Ave., where more than 230 residents of the building will receive primary care services and ultimately reduce the number of visits to the emergency room.

The 300-square-foot clinic on the first floor will feature two separate roomsfor the doctor and nurseand represents an expansion of New Community’s Visiting Physician Program. The new clinic was funded by a grant from The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, and awarded to New Community in September. The one-year grant of up to $120,527 covers initial start-up costs and some staffing expenses as the new clinic.

New Community operates eight residential buildings for seniors and disabled adults, and the grand opening of a new clinic at Commons Senior represents its fourth such on-site clinic. The other three facilities are located at Orange Senior at 132 William St. in Orange, Associates at 180 South Orange Ave. in Newark, and Manor Senior at 545 Orange St. in Newark. New Community manages more than 1,600 units of low income housing for seniors, disabled adults and families in Newark, Orange and Jersey City.

 

Military Park gets in on Newark holiday fun with events scheduled for December 16th and 18th

On Tuesday, December 16th at 5 p.m., Military Park will kick off their holiday programming with Christmas caroling featuring Pillar College’s gospel choir and praise dance team. The performances will be followed by beverage and dessert at the college’s student lounge, located directly across the street from the park in the student lounge on the first floor of 60 Park Place.

Then on Thursday, December 18 at 4:30 pm, the park will host its first annual holiday celebration at the park. In lieu of a tree, the park will celebrate the official lighting of the Military Park Sword Garden by Mayor Ras Baraka. The park will also host performances by Newark School of the Arts and Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens, and picture-taking with characters from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical.


For more information about Military Park, visit their website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Haven on Halsey Street: The Newark LGBTQ Center offers safety, support, and services

Check out our Halsey Street story map for more articles and previews in this series, and stay tuned to Facebook, Twitter, and our homepage for updates on new stories. Above: The interior of the Newark LGBTQ Center. Photo: Dorothy Chau

Every Wednesday night at the Newark LGBTQ Support Center at 11 Halsey Street, a group of roughly ten people representing different ages, backgrounds, and life experiences gather together to crochet scarves and ponchos for dialysis patients. As colorful skeins of yarn are transformed into clothing that will give warmth to others, the conversation weaves back and forth, stitching a small, caring group of support for those present.

There’s a young college student at Rutgers-Newark who identifies herself as a lesbian, and has yet to come out to her family and friends. Another woman, who works at the Prudential Center, recently discovered the wonders of online dating — she met another woman online — and after having scheduled her first date with a woman, she wants some advice. A mother of three in her late forties tells a story of coming out as a lesbian, resulting in a divorce from her husband. One of the newest members of the group recently escaped Sierra Leone due to homosexuality being against the law.

The conversation is open and honest. In a predominately heterosexual world where identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender can leave some feeling isolated and lonely, a support group like this is also a lifeline, says Reverend Janyce Jackson Jones, director of the center.

“Many of these people are not yet open about their sexuality, or cannot be open about their sexuality, so I want to give them a space where they can feel safe and truly be who they are,” she said on a recent Wednesday night crocheting session, as she quietly observed the conversation and knitted a multi-hued scarf.

crochet circle

Newbies to the crochet circle can pay $30 for crochet lessons and materials, or bring their own materials and join in if they already know how. Proceeds are used towards maintenance of the Newark LGBTQ center. Photo: Dorothy Chau

In fact, the support center’s mission is “to create and sustain a better quality of life for the LGBTQ Community of Greater Newark, by providing community-driven programs and services,” according to the organization’s website.

The creation of the center was sparked by the stabbing of 15-year old Sakia Gunn in 2003. While waiting for a bus at 10 p.m. with two friends on Market Street, two men approached Gunn for sex. When she told them she was a lesbian, they began beating her. She was ultimately stabbed multiple times with a knife, while her friends got away.

After the murder, Reverend Janyce Jackson Jones, who was one of the founding members of an AIDS/HIV awareness center known as the Liberation In Truth Social Justice Center (LITSJC), began pushing for the creation of the LGBTQ Center. After ten years, she had finally gathered enough donations and support, and the center opened its doors to the general public in October 2013.

Not only is Jones responsible for managing the Newark LGBTQ Support Center, but she also is a reverend of the nondenominational Unity Fellowship Church. Masses are held every Sunday at 21 Rector Street.

It’s been over a year since the transformation of the support center started, and the renovations continue. Floors have been replaced and the walls have been painted a friendly purple. All of the workers at the center are volunteers who dedicate their own time to improve the center and the lives of those around them.

Previously, LITSJC provided services for the people of Newark that included free testing and education regarding HIV/AIDS. The revolutionized Newark LGBTQ Support Center provides a much broader suite of services that address a wider spectrum of individual needs and interests and also help to unify the community, from hobbies, fitness, and social events to health and emotional support. Aside from the weekly crochet and knitting group, the center also hosts creative writing workshops, yoga on Thursdays, movie nights, drumming circles, and life lesson workshops for adolescents. On Thursdays, the center feeds meals to the homeless, an event known as God’s Love We Deliver.

As the LGBTQ Support Center grows, more support and funding will be required to maintain the center. According to Jackson, “the yearly budget for the center is $154,000. This is a very lean budget that only includes salary for two part-time staff, and the overhead costs include rent, maintenance, utilities and running projects.”

Future projects include setting up tables on nearby college campuses to spread the word about the center and to promote LGBTQ awareness, and collaborating with other organizations that advocate for safe sex and HIV/AIDS awareness.

Ultimately, Reverend Jackson wants to put the community and its members first. “I want to make the center a hub with many different services, but what’s most important is that we make a safe space that allows people to feel comfortable and be open with themselves,” she says.


Find the Newark LGBTQ Center on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Tree lighting and pictures with Santa scheduled for Forest Hill tomorrow

Free photos with Santa will be the highlight when Mt. Prospect Partnership (MPP), the North Ward Center and Wells Fargo present the fifth annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Thursday, December 11th from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Mt. Prospect Avenue in Newark’s historic Forest Hill neighborhood.

Community members are invited to join the Partnership, other district stakeholders, as well as elected officials and community representatives at 650 Mt. Prospect Avenue for free hot chocolate, DJ music, dancing, face painting and children’s entertainment along with a chance to take a photo with jolly old Saint Nick!

Frank Petolino, the Partnership’s Executive Director, said the day’s celebration will start earlier in the afternoon with visits to local schools by Santa, escorted by the Newark Fire Department. Free photos with Santa will start at 4:00 p.m. (line up outside 650 Mt. Prospect Avenue), followed by the tree lighting ceremony at 6:00 p.m.

“Our holiday celebration has grown each time we have presented it, and we expect this year to be bigger and better than ever,” Petolino noted. “The Partnership is pleased to sponsor the event because it brings people together, showcases local businesses and restaurants and highlights the clean, safe and welcoming environment on Mt. Prospect Avenue. We look forward to this year’s celebration on December 11th, and encourage everyone to support Mt. Prospect Avenue businesses and restaurants by shopping and dining locally during the holiday season and throughout the year.”


For more information about the event, or other programs and services provided by the Partnership, visit GoMtProspect.com or follow the Partnership at Facebook.com.gomtprospect.

Military Park sculpture by ‘Mount Rushmore’ artist still needs some love

The transformation of Military Park into a beautiful public space was completed earlier this year, but at least one element of the park needs to be restored to its original magnificence.

It’s a very distinctive monument called the “Wars of America.”

The statue, designed by John Gutzon Borglum, the same artist who created Mount Rushmore, depicts a total of 42 people and two horses made out of bronze, and rests on a large pile of granite rock.

Years of wear have turned the statue’s black exterior, and worn down the inner foundation.

In addition, parts of the statue are missing. According to a news account from the 1950s, someone stole some of the bayonets and swords from the statue in the 1930s, presumably to sell them on the black market. The dedication plaque is also missing.

stolen bayonetThe cost of restoring the statue is estimated to be $753,170.

Wars of America was built in 1926, eight years after the end of World War I. It was commissioned by Amos H. Van Horn, a Civil War veteran and Newark businessman.

“Gutzon Borglum was an amazing artist, and Newark is blessed in having some of his greatest masterpieces,” said Liz Del Tufo, president of the Newark Landmarks and Preservation Committee.  “In addition to his talent, his sensitivity is evident in that the Wars of America [statue] shows not just the warriors of war, but its victims as well: the nurse, the family left behind, and the conscientious objector.  I doubt that there is another work of art [about war] that pays tribute to the conscientious objector.”

wars of america unveiling

The $5 million renovation of the Military Park was completed earlier this year. Biederman Redevelopment Ventures, a construction firm dedicated to the maintenance of public areas across the country, was tasked with the restoration of the park grounds, as well as the full restoration of all the sculptures within it.

When asked about the Biederman group’s plans to restore the Wars of America statue, Jessica Sechrist, project coordinator for the Military Park Partnership, said, “Unfortunately, the restorations of the statues around the park may take some time, mainly because of the budget constraint they have right now.”

But visitors to the park can still take heart. The new park configuration funded by the restoration project displays the magnificent statue in such a way that it can be appreciated nearly eye-to-stone. Even in its worn down state, the statue is a sight to behold. While the restoration of the historical monument itself still requires resources, the reconstruction of Military Park at least places it in a context where it can be better appreciated by visitors.

wars of america close_2

Sculpture Images: Andaiye Taylor