When people hear "Newark, NJ" many cringe. Newark has a bad reputation of being dangerous and lame. These were my thoughts as I signed a year lease in Newark, NJ. You see, I was young girl from the south who suddenly found herself in the East Coast with a job offer in New York City. After the first month of failed apartment shopping in NYC I has just about ran out of time on finding afforable housing in the city. I know, pretty ridiculous to even think there would be affordable housing in NYC but I was young and naive. I finally settled in Newark because it was a reasonable commute into the city and rent was significantly cheaper. Although my apartment was a dream (washer and dryer inside the unit yay!), I still told myself this is temporary and I am moving myself into the city as soon as I can. I remember racing from Newark Penn Station to my apartment fearing being mugged. I never cared to explore the local bars and did my grocery shopping in New York.
Eventually curiosity got a hold of me and I started venturing out in my new neighborhood. I am so glad I did because not only did I get to see the beauty of Newark's history and culture, but I also got a peek into it's amazing future. There are so many different cultures residing in Newark and with them delicious food. Ferry Street offers amazing Spanish and Portuguese cuisine.
In the mood for nature? Visit Branch Brook Park! Apparently the parks boasts more cherry blossom trees than Washington D.C. It was a very pleasant surprising stumbling upon a world of pink in what I used to consider a dreary city.
A drive through Newark will give you a view into what Newark used to be: a thriving industrial city. Now, there are many abandoned and dilapidated warehouses littering the city that I'm sure will become hip businesses and apartment bulidings in the next years. Modern apartments are starting to peek their way into the city and there is so much commercial development underway.
I have to say most of this improvement and development is due to Mayor Corey Booker. As a new Newarkian (is this a word?), I had heard many wonderful things about Mayor Booker and how involved he was in the community. I was pleasantly surprised to see him one day just sitting on a bench talking with a local resident.
Newark is definitely on its way upwards and onward! Mark my words this city will explode in the next 5 years and if you are not a part of it already you are missing out on something wonderful.