Newark Landmarks extends its profound thanks to Preservation New Jersey for including the James Street Commons on its 2021 most endangered list.
More than 40 years after being listed on the national and state registers of historic places, the James Street Commons, Newark’s first duly designated historic district, sits imperiled today at a critical juncture in the city’s social, cultural and economic development.
Hopefully, the listing will bring the enormous and senseless destruction inflicted by the wrecking ball over the decades to the attention of residents and the preservationist community throughout the state.
Many area institutions, such as Rutgers-Newark, Audible, L&M Development and the Hanini Group, have recognized the district’s assets, both for their historic value and what they mean to the future viability of Newark, which was once America’s innovation city.
Preservation New Jersey’s listing is a significant recognition of the ruthless demolition of endangered buildings, most recently and notably by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
At the current rate of demolition, there soon will be very little left to call historic in the James Street Commons, a trend that should frighten Newark’s other duly registered historic districts.
Preservation New Jersey’s listing also calls attention to the acquiescence of the state and city governments in the decisions bringing about these devastating losses.
The annual endangered list brings great awareness to the widespread benefits of historic preservation. Let the buildings of the James Street Commons, abused by shortsighted planning and parochial business interests over the greater good, carry some important lessons to every historic neighborhood in New Jersey. May their loss not be in vain.
Founded in 1976, Newark Landmarks, formerly Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee, is the city’s primary non-profit organization for historic preservation. It has nominated over 70 local buildings and structures to the National and State Register of Historic Places.