2021 Year in Review

  • Most of the lead service lines are gone! After a rocky start, Newark was able to collaborate with Essex County and turn the tide from being a bad national model, to a good one.
  • The city has maintained its commitment to police reform. As crime rates have risen nationally, so has fearmongering meant to undermine many of the reforms that worked their way up from the streets to 2020 presidential election debate podiums. A couple of weeks ago, a Newark police officer was shot and injured (with a bullet fragment injuring another), but the suspect was brought in alive to face trial for his crimes. This is a remarkable example of officer restraint that might have had a very different ending in the recent past. Bringing this anecdote home, excessive force complaints against Newark police officers fell by 44% this year (see the link in the next story).
  • Speaking of crime, Newark wasn’t immune to national trends. The city saw an uptick in car thefts and homicides, but nowhere near a return to the those Brick City/New Jersey Drive numbers. Even more encouraging was the fact crimes like assault and theft stayed flat or decreased. If the numbers from the last five years or so are the new norm, Newark will be a mid-sized city with above average crime, but worlds away from many peer urban areas with more complicated reputations. Yes, the city still has some dangerous neighborhoods, but suburbanites who still think the entire city of Newark is dangerous while spending drunken vacations in New Orleans fascinate us.
  • We are still getting new things! Craft brew fans rejoice, Newark Local Beer is open. This is great addition to a stretch of the north end of the downtown that’s low-key laying the foundation for a solid barhop. The Gateway Center is nearing the end of a huge overhaul that will finally help correct one of most egregious examples of the architecture of fear in the region. Connecting retail to the street where Newark’s 310,000 residents can shop? What a wild idea!
  • Residential development is continuing. With the new census showing Newark’s impressive population growth, banner projects like Shaq Tower and Urby are well into construction. Outside of downtown, Makerhoods at the Kruger-Scott Mansion is wrapping up and the COVID wave of people in the NYC area looking for relatively affordable housing encouraged investors to purchase, renovate and flip neglected homes in the outer wards. We’re even starting to see long vacant lots become market rate, to (gasp!) luxury apartment buildings.
  • Public art continued to expand. Isn’t it amazing what giving the city’s considerable artistic talent license to spruce up our little concrete jungle has done? Murals are beautifying long neglected walls, chain-link fences on vacant lots are becoming canvases and potential places for installations. We can’t wait to see the projects that come out of the Gant-Gilbert Arts Collective Project on Clinton Avenue. Keep it coming!
  • E-scooters arrive in Newark. Newark joined the international trend of cities offering e-scooter rentals via partnerships with Bird and Veo. The dockless scooters have been spotted across the city, despite mostly originating downtown. In the past week, Bird further expanded their offerings with bike rentals. Maybe we can get Newark Police to start discouraging the use of bike lanes as parking spaces?
  • The monuments got fixed. In our first issue, we complained about the sad state of statues in the city, from the Kenneth Gibson statue in Lincoln Park to the immigrant tribute in the Ironbound. We’re so happy to see Kenneth Gibson has received a proper statue at City Hall and the Ironbound’s stone immigrants have been liberated from their ironic cage.
  • COVID is still here. Get vaccinated. If you’re vaccinated, get boosted.

    The Board of Editors
    The Newarker
Illustration by Sharon Adarlo

Featured image by pexels