25 March 2012

From Downtown to The Ironbound

Right, I feel like I'm talking far too much about New York City, considering I live in New Jersey it doesn't really translate that in these blogs, so here's a change for today. Newark, New Jersey has become my home and the more time I spend living here I realise what contrasts this city contains. I want to see if variety is really the spice of life, let's see if the Ironbound District and the nearby Downtown Newark District measure up with each other!? 

The Ironbound District has become my new home, this European infused neighbourhood shares a border with Newark's Penn Station which, shares a cross-line with another nearby Newark neighbourhood. Newark's Downtown District also has borders with Newark Penn Station. These two communities have countless differences, can you guess which place I prefer? From the barbecue restaurants of Ferry Street to the dilapidated corners of Downtown Newark, this side of New Jersey certainly provides one hell of a culture shock. I'm definitely a fan of a multi-cultural environment that has many quirks that make everyday life just that little bit more exciting. Newark's a city that's got a whole lot of attitude so I know its going to teach me a lesson or two! The Ironbound District is full of different flavours and two defined cultures. A strong Latin and Portuguese vibe, which speaks for itself as English isn't the primary language on the streets.

Taking from the Latin influences that The Ironbound possesses I honestly don't know where to begin? Downtown Newark has more of a African American feel, both Broad Street and Market Street have an abundance of interesting eateries which range from Fried Chicken to Ghanaian delicacies. Both of these areas are constantly on my radar as I pass through the Downtown Newark District on my way to work as the 62 NJ Transit bus takes me to Newark Liberty International Airport. America is certainly one of those countries that takes you by surprise, I suppose the factor of living here puts a different spin on things. Newark, New Jersey hasn't been my home for a long time but I can already see a stark contrast between the boundaries that I should be wary from crossing. One think I know is that I'll be back again Brick City! Don't take this seriously!

Newark Penn Station is the transport gateway to New Jersey's rail network and its also Newark's connection to the rest of the USA's North-east coast and beyond. Downtown Newark and the Ironbound are both on the doorstep of the tracks of Newark's Penn Station. You could say that Newark Penn Station meets these two neighbourhoods in the middle. I'm a regular passengers to Newark Penn Station as that's where the 62 bus leaves for Newark Liberty International Airport. This transport interchange has many different personalities, people even call it their home! I don't quite know how to put my views about Newark Penn Station into words, but here goes! There's a saying from the people I have met here recently; "Be careful! Do not go across the tracks if you don't need to! Especially at night!" Now, I'm the adventurous type when it comes to exploring places but I have never willingly wanted to explore Newark's Downtown, so looking I choose to take the Downtown vibe by looking out from the bus's windows.

It's a stark contrast to the side that welcomes the residences to Newark Penn Station from the Ironbound, its more like Portugal and Brazil mixed together! I will never be so judgmental about the different racial demographics that make up a city, for Newark is showing me something completely remarkable! I'm a dramatic at heart because I'm never really satisfied, well I am in this instance but I must admit I really need to get a grip! I look back for a second to think about my clean cut Disney life for those apartment complex's on the Intern properties were located in sterile areas close to Lake Buena Vista, plus we had twenty-four hour security on hand so things have been very real this time around. I simply jumped on a bus during my EPCOT working days but now I walk to another bus, which is located about one mile away from my shared apartment in The Ironbound. I would say my erratic working hours mean I walk to the bus at 3 am on a daily basis and this area isn't exactly like my Disney gated housing but I'm a survivor!

Choosing a neighbourhood that would be my favourite place won't work in this situation. Say for instance, I'm waiting for the Go28 bus on Market Street in the dead of night observing people as they go by minding their own business, mind you some of their business isn't that kosher I might add. I sort of feel in danger whilst I'm waiting for the bus on Market Street at Eleven at night, its just not safe! To shine some positivity about the Downtown area of Newark I do find the atmosphere interesting if a little daunting. Whereas Ferry Street, its the life-blood of the Ironbound. This long and winding street offers so much more than just shops, restaurants and bakeries. This European part of town has a sense of warmth that can be felt even on the coldest day. 

To be quite honest I do love the Ironbound for its character and day to day crowd of normal people that make there way through life. From the young and the old each person I pass sure must have a story to tell. Going hungry in the Ironbound is an impossible task, I have learnt over the last month that the my local Portuguese barbecue restaurants serve a delicious helping of barbecue chicken, rice and beans. Finding a fresh loaf of bread and specially baked cakes is really easy! The independent bakeries start baking their products well before the birds start to sing in the morning, its that early I always see movement on the way to work in the mornings. Newark's Downtown has a long way to go, but I know that new developments are coming to this part of Newark, they will intern improve the safety and feeling of this crazy area for sure. I'm all for a change and something out of the ordinary but when I feel slightly on edge its not very comforting. Honestly, there's no place quite like the Ironbound .... Sorry Downtown! You're just not my kind of neighbourhood. 

Live Your Dream, No Matter Where You Are From!

Joseph Harrison

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