The ongoing COVID-19 epidemic undoubtedly placed a great amount of hardship on Newark. Besides the human toll, Downtown economically suffered in the absence of white collar-workers and event traffic from major venues like NJPAC and the Prudential Center. Despite this, Downtown faired remarkably well because an organic vision of the city’s development won the day.
Black-owned small businesses like BrownMill and Boss Blend Coffee opened and expanded not only the city’s retail options, but also provided more spaces for creativity. The Yard unlocked the full potential of its Military Park location by regularly utilizing their garden area for live music. Speaking of Military Park, the city held weekly house music events, which went a long way in keeping the area active and projecting an upbeat vibe during hard times. For the first time in a year, Newark First Fridays brought young artists, live audiences and vendors back together. People danced on Broad and Market Streets for 24 hours of peace. At the end of the summer, Rutgers-Newark, NJIT and Essex County College students returned to campus and turned out in huge numbers for a reemergent Halsey Fest.
But it gets better! Despite worries, Downtown didn’t lose marquee tenants like Barcade and Marcus B&P or new arena adjacent restaurants like Just Beclaws. May Dinosaur Bar-B-Que rest in peace, but it being the only notable closure is a best case scenario for an area that lost so much of its revenue for so long. Hopefully Hotel Indigo’s new owners re-open and properly run that rooftop bar next summer!
Welcome back, corporate workers, New Jersey Devils fans, concertgoers and budget-minded travelers to New York City. Downtown Newark is still here, and the best is yet come.
The Board of Editors
Featured photo by Charles David Photography