“In the Way of Progress”: How a Federal Highway and Political Fragmentation Blighted Neighborhoods in the Weequahic Section of Newark
This paper chronicles the history of interstate highway construction through the Weequahic Section of Newark, New Jersey. It expands the analysis of urban redevelopment in Newark, New Jersey, by shifting the focus from the Central Ward, the primary site of urban renewal, to the Weequahic Section, one of several districts in the broader Newark landscape. Tracing how urban renewal led to a broader set of changes in the Newark cityscape, this paper examines how city and state officials exploited Newark’s geographic resources, not for the benefit of Weequahic residents or Newark citizens more generally, but for downtown and regional commercial interests, and suburban commuters. Using newspapers to map out the chronology of events; municipal and state studies, and official correspondence to document state intentions and policy decisions; and organizational minutes, flyers, and correspondence to discern local reactions to highway construction, this work will show that the construction of the highway through Weequahic was not inevitable.
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