The Ironbound

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St. Stephen's Church is an Ironbound landmark. Built in 1874 for a German-speaking congregation, which it remained until the 1930s, the church is still Lutheran but uses Spanish and Portuguese in its services. The architect was George Staehlin and the interior has some of the most ornate woodwork in Newark. The church is shown as the first alien spawning point in Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds. Locals call this site "As Cinco Esquinas/Five Corners."
Ironbound Views of the Newark Skyline

The Ironbound[a] is a neighborhood in the city of Newark in Essex County, New Jersey, United States.[2][3] It is a large working-class multi-ethnic community, covering approximately 4 square miles (10 km2) of well maintained streets and homes. Historically, the area was called "Dutch Neck," "Down Neck," or simply "the Neck," due to the appearance of the curve of the Passaic River.[1] The Ironbound is part of Newark's East Ward[1] and is directly east of Newark Penn Station and Downtown Newark, and south and west of the river, over which passes the Jackson Street Bridge, connecting to Harrison and Kearny. The area became a major transmission "hotspot" of the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2020.[4][5]

Early history[edit]

1910-era map of ethnic enclaves in Newark, New Jersey

The name "The Ironbound" is said to derive from the large metalworking industry in the area or from the network of railroad tracks that surrounded the neighborhood.[1] The Ironbound was mostly farmland until the 1830s, when industry and immigration began increasing at a rapid pace.[6]


The Ironbound was an industrial neighborhood in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The neighborhood was home to Hensler's Beer Brewery, P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company (in 1954 Newark's largest employer) and the Feigenspan Brewery.[7] Balbach Smelting & Refining Company, now the location of Riverbank Park, was the second largest metal processing enterprise in the United States until its closure in the 1920s.[8] Other large industrial buildings included Murphy Varnish Works,.[9]


The Ironbound has experienced several waves of immigration.[8] The first wave, starting in the 1830s, came from the German states. Wrote historian Charles Cummings, "Overnight, whole sections of the Ironbound became Irish and German".[8] Polish and Italian immigrants arrived in the latter half of the 19th century, followed by Portuguese and Spanish starting in the 1910s.[8][10] By 1921 there was a large enough Portuguese population to found Sport Club Portuguese,[11] the first of over twenty Portuguese social clubs that would call the Ironbound home.[12]

Former Firehouse 8 on Ferry Street

Historical landmarks[edit]

The following sites in the Ironbound are on the National Register of Historic Places:

Culture and festivals[edit]

In 2017,[13] the New York Times described the neighborhood as:

Four square miles populated in large part by Portuguese, Spanish and Latin American immigrants and their descendants, the Ironbound has the intimacy and hustle of a European market town. “We walk to the bakery, the fishmonger, the wine store,” said [the director of the Newark Museum]. (He also walks to work.) “It really is an extraordinarily agreeable lifestyle.”

Portuguese community[edit]

Today, the Ironbound is known for being a Portuguese neighborhood.[14] TAP Air Portugal has its corporate office in the neighborhood. Ironbound Volunteer Ambulance Squad has been serving the community since 1952.[15] Ironbound also has its own newspaper. Many Portuguese still live in Ironbound, but many are moving out to other neighborhoods in New Jersey, Including South River, Livingston, Clark, Westfield, Watchung, Old Bridge, etc.

A small sitting park east of Penn Station is named in honor of Peter Francisco, a Portuguese-born patriot of the American War of Independence. An obelisk in Francisco's memory was raised in the park by the Portuguese community in 1976. Peter Francisco Park also features a memorial to Portuguese-American war veterans dedicated in 2018 as well as the Ironbound Immigrants Memorial, dedicated in 2019.

Portugal Day festival[edit]

Every year, people flock to the annual Portuguese Parade & Festival, known as Portugal Day, "Dia de Portugal" (typically held the first or second weekend in June), an enormous celebration of Portuguese culture.[16]

During Portugal Day Weekend, many people come out to celebrate Portuguese-American culture.[16] Ferry Street is also the location for most soccer fans to come and celebrate.[17][18][19][20] Fans walk up and down the street while others decorate their cars and celebrate the victory of their soccer team[17][18][19][20]..

Ecuadorian Day festival[edit]

Typically held in the first or second weekend of August, the Ecuadorian Day Parade & festival take place in Ferry Street.[21] In this event various businesses and politicians attend the parade and support the Ecuadorian culture in a statewide recognized festivity.[21]

Brazilian Day festival[edit]

Typically held in the first or second weekend of September, the Brazilian day festival takes place also in Ferry Street.[22] Various street vendors, musical concerts, and restaurants show support to the Brazilian Culture.[22]


The Ironbound used to mainly consist of Italians, Polish, Portuguese, and Spaniard Immigrants. As time went on many Italian, and Polish immigrants have moved out of the Ironbound. However there are still significant numbers of residents of Italian and Polish descent residing in the Ironbound. Recent immigrants include large numbers of Brazilians and Ecuadorians.[23][24] 2000s census demographics include;[23]

57.46% White/Caucasian/European (Mainly consisting of Italian, Spanish, Polish, and other European Ethnicity)

34.94% Hispanic & Latino (Mainly consisting of Brazilians, Ecuadorians, Etc.)

0.95% Asian/American Indian

4.68% Black/African American

1.97% Muiti-Racial

Parks and recreation[edit]

Independence Park[edit]

This park is in the Ironbound district.[25][26] Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the Ironbound's first Italian parish, faces the park. The church holds an annual Italian Festival which attracts Italian-American people that live in the neighborhood, and Italians who moved out of the Ironbound.[27][28]

Riverfront Park and waterfront[edit]

Orange Boardwalk and Jackson Street Bridge

A chain of parkland along the Passaic River, especially along the downward "curve" in the river that gave the Ironbound neighborhood its nickname of "Down Neck," offers waterfront recreation in the city. Kayaking and riverboat tours of the city are offered in the summer months.[29][30] From east to west along the downward "neck" of the Passaic, parkland includes:


Public schools[edit]

The Newark Public Schools operates six elementary and K-8 schools in the area. Schools serving Ironbound include Wilson Avenue School, Hawkins Street School, Lafayette Street School and Oliver Street School. In addition is Ann Street School, which is considered by many to be one of the best elementary schools in the city and the K-5 South Street School. In fact, Ann Street School received the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence from the US Department of Education. This competitive award had not been awarded to a Newark Public School before. In addition, the award prompted then Vice President of the US, Al Gore, to visit Ann Street to promote the importance of the upcoming 2000 US Census.[37][38] East Side High School serves Ironbound high school students. As of 2004 most of the elementary schools were built over 100 years prior to the time. In the 2000s, an increase in housing lead to an overcrowding of Ironbound-area schools. At the time the school district planned to replace several of the elementary schools and build a new East Side High School in the former Ballantine brewery site.[1]

Private schools[edit]

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark operates the Ironbound Catholic Academy, a PK-8 school in Ironbound.[1][39][40] As of 2004 many residents of Ironbound send their children to parochial schools.[1] Ironbound used to have three other Catholic elementary schools, including Academy of St. Benedict, a PreK-8 school, St. James, both elementary and high school, and St. Lucy Filippini Academy.[1][41] In 2005 the archdiocese announced that St. Casimir, St. Benedict, and St. Lucy Filippini would merge into the Ironbound Catholic Academy on the St. Casimir site.[41] There is also the Our Lady of Fatima Nursery, a Pre-K institution and one Portuguese Language School known at Escola Luis de Camões.

Public libraries[edit]

Newark Public Library's Van Buren Branch Library serves the Ironbound neighborhood. The library opened on September 23, 1923. A renovated and expanded branch opened on November 19, 1997.[42]


About 60% of the real estate market in the Ironbound is two and three family houses.[43] Many houses built by the Portuguese include tile details and aluminum siding.[44] In the past ten to fifteen years, more luxury condos and apartments have been built in the area.[45] Several old factory buildings have been converted into lofts or apartments including Textile Lofts,[46] Button Factory Lofts,[47] Murphy Varnish Factory,[48] and the Chocolate Factory.[49]

Ironbound has three housing projects within its boundaries: Hyatt Court, Pennington Court, and Terrell Homes (formerly Franklin Delano Roosevelt Homes).[50] Tenants and activists have recently been in a battle with the Newark Housing Authority to save Terrell Homes, which the Authority had planned to demolish.[50]

Environmental justice[edit]

The Ironbound has a "national reputation"[51] for being a leader in environmental justice led by a local community organizing and advocacy organization called the Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC) and an offshoot group the Ironbound Committee Against Toxic Waste (ICATW).[51] ICC and ICATW have worked over the years with other local and national groups and figures such as Greenpeace, Lois Gibbs, and the Newark Coalition for Neighborhoods.[52] Over the years they have worked on a number of environmental justice issues including airplane noise, dioxin, pollution and fumes.[53][54]

In 1983, dangerous levels of dioxin were discovered at an abandoned chemical factory in the Ironbound.[55] The Diamond Alkali Company was largely responsible for this pollution through their heavy production of Agent Orange between 1951 and 1969.[55] The off-site cleanup was completed by 1986, and in 1989 the site received a permanent impermeable cap.

In the 1980s residents protested against a garbage incinerator in the neighborhood.[53] The incinerator was built in 1990 but residents have continued to protest environmental issues over the years.[53] Bright pink and purple fumes were often seen spewing from the facility but Covanta, the company operating the incinerator, blamed a local hospital for improperly disposed medical waste. In summer 2019, ICC partnered with Earthjustice, a nonprofit public interest organization that litigates to protect the environment, and the Environmental Advocacy Clinic at Vermont Law School urged state officials to investigate. Covanta has been found many hundreds of times to exceed air pollution limits or to fail to abide by required safety regulations. Covanta eventually acknowledged that the fumes were produced by its burning of pesticides improperly disposed and agreed to new waste management procedures.[56]

Notable residents[edit]

Popular culture[edit]

  • The early scenes of Alfred Hitchcock's 1943 thriller "Shadow of a Doubt" were shot in several places in Newark, including the Ironbound.[62]
  • The third track on Suzanne Vega's 1987 album Solitude Standing, "Ironbound/Fancy Poultry", has lyrics describing a scene set in the neighborhood.
  • New Jersey metal band Overkill released their 15th album titled Ironbound in 2010. Much of the album's lyrical theme, especially the title track, is built around the topic of the local area and its people.[63]
  • Scenes for the 2021 CBS tv show "The Equalizer" were filmed in the Ironbound
  • Scenes from the 2005 Steven Spielberg film "War of the Worlds" were filmed in the Ironbound[64]
  • Episode 7, Season 1 of the HBO tv series "The Sopranos" is titled Down Neck.[65] It is established in this episode that Ironbound is the neighborhood where protagonist Tony Soprano grew up.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Often referred to with a definite article, e.g., The Ironbound.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Lawlor, Julia. "If You're Thinking of Living In/The Ironbound; A Home Away From Home for Immigrants", The New York Times, January 11, 2004. Accessed June 26, 2013.
  2. ^ Lasky, Julie (1 March 2017). "The Ironbound, Newark: Convenient, but a World Apart". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  3. ^ Sussman, Anna Louie (31 December 2010). "A Multicultural River Bend". Wall Street Journal.
  4. ^ "Newark mayor asks all city residents to shelter in place for 10 days after Thanksgiving". News12 The Bronx. November 20, 2020. Retrieved 21 November 2020. There are also mandatory curfews in place for hot zones, like the Ironbound section of the city...
  5. ^ Sutton, Sam (October 26, 2020). "'It's a desperate moment': Newark mayor imposes new Covid restrictions as cases surge". Politico. Retrieved 21 November 2020. ...recent spikes are even more dramatic in the Ironbound section of Newark’s East Ward...
  6. ^ impressM. "The Ironbound's Early History. Part I: Immigrants, Industry Remake a Once-Bucolic Down Neck". Charles Cummings. Retrieved 2021-12-29.
  7. ^ impressM. "In a Glass Darkly: Beer Marks City's History Brewers Benefited from Workers, Water". Charles Cummings. Retrieved 2021-12-29.
  8. ^ a b c d J. Bennett. "Riverbank Park in Newark". Newarkology. Archived from the original on September 25, 2015. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  9. ^ impressM. "The Ironbound. Part II: Industry, Commerce Sustain Vibrant Soul in Midst of Change". Charles Cummings. Retrieved 2021-12-29.
  10. ^ impressM. "Rich Spanish Influence Runs Deep in City". Charles Cummings. Retrieved 2021-12-14.
  11. ^ "Sport Club Português Celebrates 100 years Through Art and Culture Exhibit". TAPinto. Retrieved 2021-12-14.
  12. ^ Lawlor, Julia (2004-01-11). "If You're Thinking of Living In/The Ironbound; A Home Away From Home for Immigrants". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-12-14.
  13. ^ The Ironbound, Newark: Convenient, but a World Apart
  14. ^ Shepard, Richard F. "EXPLORING THE CULTURAL PLEASURES OF NEWARK - April in Portugal is Waiting Just Across the Hudson", The New York Times, March 26, 1982. Accessed June 26, 2013.
  15. ^ "Ironbound Ambulance Squad | Newark, NJ". Retrieved 2021-12-14.
  16. ^ a b Kurtz, Gretchen (2001-05-20). "Summer in the City. Yes, That City". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-12-14.
  17. ^ a b Portugal Brazil world cup celebration newark nj pt4, retrieved 2021-12-14
  18. ^ a b Portugal Ferry St. Celebration after Czech win, retrieved 2021-12-14
  19. ^ a b Spain Wins vs Germany Ironbound Newark NJ Ferry Street, retrieved 2021-12-14
  20. ^ a b EURO 2016: Portugal defeats France to win EURO! Fans celebrate in Newark, NJ. (July 10, 2016)., retrieved 2021-12-14
  21. ^ a b "The Annual Ecuadorian Festival And Parade Of Newark | Inca Kola". Retrieved 2021-12-14.
  22. ^ a b "Newark Brazilian Day | Discover Events, Parades & Festivals". Retrieved 2021-12-14.
  23. ^ a b "Explore Census Data". Retrieved 2021-12-29.
  24. ^ "Little Portugal in Newark". Retrieved 2021-12-29.
  25. ^ "Independence Park | Parks | Essex County Parks".
  26. ^ "Google Maps".
  27. ^ "Independence Park".
  28. ^[user-generated source]
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Boat Tours in Newark | Newark Riverfront Revival | Tours".
  31. ^ "Riverfront Park | Parks | Essex County Parks".
  32. ^ "Google Maps".
  33. ^ "Summer Guide to Riverfront Park | Newark Story Ideas".
  34. ^ "Riverbank Park | Parks | Essex County Parks".
  35. ^ "Google Maps".
  36. ^ Minish Park,
  37. ^ Erminio, Vanessa. "Neighborhood snapshot: Ironbound", The Star-Ledger. November 8, 2007. Accessed June 26, 2013.
  38. ^ "Newark Public Schools 2008-2009 Directory Archived 2010-11-04 at the Wayback Machine." Newark Public Schools. Retrieved on March 2, 2010.
  39. ^ "St. Casimir Academy." St. Casimir Roman Catholic Church. Retrieved on March 2, 2010. "The mission of the Christian Community of St. Casimir Academy(Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 8), calls us to serve the children within the Ironbound area of the Newark Archdiocese by providing them with a total education based on the teachings of Jesus, through which Christian principals and moral values become a part of each students character and life."
  40. ^ "Essex County Catholic Elementary Schools Archived 2010-02-14 at the Wayback Machine." Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark. Retrieved on March 2, 2010.
  41. ^ a b "New Jersey: Newark: Seven Catholic Schools To Close", The New York Times. March 3, 2005. Retrieved on March 2, 2010.
  42. ^ Van Buren Branch Library, Newark Public Library. Retrieved on March 2, 2010.
  43. ^ Lawlor, Julia (2004-01-11). "If You're Thinking of Living In/The Ironbound; A Home Away From Home for Immigrants". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-12-28.
  44. ^ Ferretti, Fred (1978-03-12). "ABOUT NEW JERSEY". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-12-28.
  45. ^ Star-Ledger, Carmen Juri/The (2008-07-16). "Luxury condos coming to Newark". nj. Retrieved 2021-12-28.
  46. ^ "Official Site | Textile Lofts Apartments - Newark NJ". Textile Lofts. Retrieved 2021-12-28.
  47. ^ "Button Factory Lofts Apartments - Newark, NJ". Retrieved 2021-12-28.
  48. ^, Barry Carter | NJ Advance Media for (2019-06-16). "It went from factory to contaminated mess. Now it's restored and renting apartments". nj. Retrieved 2021-12-28.
  49. ^ "109 Hamilton St, Newark, NJ 07105 - Condo for Rent in Newark, NJ". Retrieved 2021-12-28.
  50. ^ a b impressM. "Three Powerful Agencies Brought Housing to the City's Needy". Charles Cummings. Retrieved 2021-12-28.
  51. ^ a b "Project Showcase: Ironbound Environmental Justice History and Resource Center | National Council on Public History". Retrieved 2021-12-16.
  52. ^ picturingjustice. "By Actor (Group or Individual) - Picturing Justice". By Actor (Group or Individual) Group: • Coalition to Save Rent Control • Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless • Grassroots Environmental Organization • Greater Newark Bay Coalition •... Retrieved 2021-12-16.
  53. ^ a b c "History of ICC". Environmental Justice in The Ironbound. Retrieved 2021-12-16.
  54. ^ picturingjustice. "Photos By Struggle - Picturing Justice". Tumblr. Retrieved 2021-12-16.
  55. ^ a b Sullivan, Joseph F. "Company Settles Lawsuit Over Exposure to Dioxin". The New York Times Company.
  56. ^ Earthjustice, 22 Jan. 2021 "A Newark Neighborhood Takes on a Toxic Trash Incinerator"
  57. ^ Newark Lifetimes - Little and Wesley - April 12, 2016, retrieved 2021-12-28
  58. ^ "United States Census 1910". FamilySearch.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  59. ^ "1865-66 | Newark Public Library Digital Repository". Retrieved 2021-12-28.
  60. ^ a b c Sterling, Guy (2014-11-15). The Famous, the Familiar and the Forgotten: 350 Notable Newarkers. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 978-1-4990-7991-3.
  61. ^ a b Directory of Distinguished Alumni (PDF). Newark Public Schools Historical Preservation Committee.
  62. ^ Hatala, Greg (14 October 2013). "Glimpse of History: A Hitchcockian scene in Newark". Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  63. ^ "Ironbound: A Track-By-Track Blitz".
  64. ^ "St. Stephan's Church". Newest Americans. Retrieved 2021-12-14.
  65. ^ Senna, Lorraine (1999-02-21), Down Neck, The Sopranos, retrieved 2021-12-14

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]