NJ: From Downtown To The Ironbound

I blog a lot about New York City, considering I live in New Jersey it doesn't really translate that in my blogs. Here's a change for today. Newark, New Jersey has become my home, the more I spend living here I realise what contrasts this city contains. Is really the spice of life? Does the Ironbound District and Downtown District measure up with each other? Get it, get it  Brick City!

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, I live for their differences! 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 rich flavours and two defined cultures. A strong Latin and Portuguese vibe, speaking for itself as English isn't the primary language on the streets. Eu amo isso!

Taking from the Latin influences that The Ironbound possesses I honestly don't know where to begin? Downtown Newark has more of an 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! I haven't even left yet, this place has got into my DNA! BBQ chicken, rice and peas along Ferry Street, sided with realness for days on Market/Broad Street! Lucy, who?

Newark Penn Station is the gateway to New Jersey's rail network. It's 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 hub has many different personalities, people even call it their home! I don't quite know how to put my views about Penn Station together, but here goes! There's a saying from the people I heard recently; "Be careful! Do not go across the tracks if you don't need to! Especially at night!" I'm the adventurous type when it comes to exploring places, but I always exercise caution on that borderline. Sure, I know the Downtown and I will have our time fine.

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. Disney's Celebration kept me cocooned in safety, Downtown Newark schooled me good and proper! That's my life!

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, although I love the vibrant nights activity with serious caution! 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. The imported Portuguese chocolate definitely tastes batter than the American stuff! B, life won't ever be the same again! No!

To be quite honest I do love the Ironbound for its character and day to day crowd of normal people that make their 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, it's 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. Newark, where laundromats are life!

Brick City, Come On Through! 

Joseph Harrison


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