Halsey Street: Frontier of The New Newark

Words: Tim Raphael, Frank Barcelos, Jedd Kristjan Marquez, Chris Zranchev
Visuals: Ashley Gilberston, Gareth Smit, Chris Zranchev


From the roof of the Hahne building at 40-62 Halsey Street in Newark, one sees a city under construction. A stand of newly planted trees and a farmers market in the recently refurbished Military Park.

  • Photo by Chris Zranchev


The shiny mirrored façade of the new Prudential Building partially obscures the old Prudential Plaza headquarters at the corner of Broad and Market Streets, where the Prudential Insurance Company of America has held down Newark’s commercial center since it first set up shop there in 1877.

Concrete is being poured for a foundation slab across from the new cafes and restaurants on Halsey Street, and the Hahne building itself is getting a gut renovation after years of disuse and neglect.

  • Photo by Chris Zranchev

  • Photo by Chris Zranchev

  • Photo by Chris Zranchev

  • Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo

  • Photo by Chris Zranchev

  • Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo


Halsey Street is in transition, and the Hahne building is at the center of that transformation. One of the “Big Three” department stores that drew shoppers from across the region to downtown Newark, Hahne conjures the city’s bright commercial past and is an integral site within the collective memory of the region.

  • Hahne & Co 1800s

  • Hahne & Co 1901

  • Hahne & Co early 1900s

  • Hahne & Co interior

  • Hahne & Co 1947

  • This towering figure of Santa Claus stood in the rotunda of Hahne & Co. in December 1961 to greet Christmas shoppers.


“We’d go to Bamberger’s, Kresge’s and Hahne’s. . . We were very fortunate downtown, and I say this as a Newarker, we were very fortunate in having all these stores that opened all on Halsey Street. And at one time, there were some plans afoot to open an arcade on Halsey Street so that people would be able to walk without the fear of traffic. But that never came to a reality.”
James Churchman, Newarker

  • Proposed Halsey Street Esplanade sketch (August 1960)


“There are some people that we have here [renovating Hahne’s] that are Newark residents who have some tie to the building. They were here as children when their parents took them to get graduation clothes, or for christenings, or weddings, bar mitzvahs or whatever. I’ll often hear stories that begin, ‘I remember when my parents took me here.’”
-Michael Handler, L&M Developers project manager

  • Hahne project manager Michael Handler on the roof of the building. (Photo by Chris Zranchev)

  • Construction worker waiting for materials to be delivered from below. (Photo by Chris Zranchev)


Scheduled to be completed by the end of December 2016, the repurposed Hahne building (outfitted with market rate apartments, retail, a Whole Foods, and a university/community arts collaborative) is expected to contribute to the revival of downtown Newark, link the University Heights neighborhood to the downtown commercial and arts districts, and convince Millennials who go to school or work in Newark to live in the city.

The Hahne renovation is one piece of a larger transformation of downtown Newark. Developers have returned after a long absence. Urban villages are springing up everywhere. Teachers Village and Makers Village are two of several recent downtown development projects that aspire to bring young creatives to Newark to live and work alongside the 60,000 students pursuing degrees in the adjacent University Heights neighborhood. And Newark just got its first boutique hotel. With a rooftop bar, no less. A recent Politico article posed the question, “Is Newark the Next Brooklyn?”

  • A meditation class on the sidewalk across from the Hahne building during the Halsey Street block party (photo by Gareth Smit)


The Halsey Street neighborhood is the border between University Heights with its 60,000 students and the city’s largest commercial and cultural districts. Halsey is at the epicenter of downtown Newark’s revival and a microcosm of the city Newark is becoming.

  • Marty Weber, who opened Green Chicpea restaurant with his wife Ronit at 51 Halsey in 2013 after a decade of operating a restaurant in Manhattan (Photo by Gareth Smit)

  • Lunch at Green Chicpea, which serves kosher Middle Eastern and North African food (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo)


“Why would these small businesses be here if they didn’t think they had a chance at success? “It’s not just the Rutgers students anymore, whether they’re graduate or undergraduate. It’s business people who are realizing not only we can work in Newark, we can live in Newark.”
-Mark Bonamo, editor of Newark Inc.

  • Anthony Smith, nephew of the owner of Cut Creater, a barbershop at 27 Halsey established in 2009. Sitting with Anthony are Beneva Travers (white top), the manager, and Georgia Lowe, an assistant stylist.

  • A woman at Martha’s Dominican Unisex hair design at 89 Halsey looks at her phone while her hair sets in rollers (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo)


Hahne, Halsey and University Heights. A building, a block and a neighborhood in a city under construction. Here’s what it looks like:

  • Woman walking past the new Prudential Building on Halsey Street (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo)


  • Art Kitchen Cafe at at 61 Halsey (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo)


  • Justinya Stachowicz, the owner of Art Kitchen Cafe, works the lunch rush. Ms. Stachowicz left the East Village to open the cafe in 2009 (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo)


  • The Wig World store at 128 Halsey sits below the sign for the shoe store that preceded it (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo)

  • Wig World (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo)


  • Corner of Halsey Street and Raymond Boulevard (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo)


  • Riding down Halsey Street (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo)


  • A woman with sore legs takes a break at the corner of Halsey and Market (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo)


  • Lenzy Hall, owner of Lenzy’s Nutrition Center at 55 Halsey. When Lenzy’s opened 30 years ago, the Hahne building was still a functioning department store. Every morning, Mr. Hall places a speaker on the street in front of his store and tunes his radio to WBGO, Newark’s legendary jazz station (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo)

  • Amadou Dillo, owner of Afia Tailor, at his store situated in the rear of Lenzy’s Nutrition Center. Mr. Dillo moved to Newark from Liberia twenty years ago to open his tailor shop (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo)


  • Bill Amprazis (no mustache) and his co-owner Angelo Parmakis (mustache) work the counter and phone at Central Restaurant, a Greek diner that has been on Halsey Street for 40 years (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo)


  • Skipping rope at the Halsey Street block party. (Photo by Gareth Smit)


  • A Cut Creaters’ stylist braids a customer’s hair at the Halsey Street Block Party. (Photo by Gareth Smit)

  • Cut Creaters’ Georgia Lowe shows a customer her new hairstyle at the Halsey Street Block Party. (Photo by Gareth Smit)


  • (Photo by Gareth Smit)


Ashley Gilbertson, VII photographer, is a core contributor to Newest Americans.

Gareth Smit is a South African freelance photographer currently based in New York City. His images and writing have been published in various South African publications including The Cape Times, The Weekend Argus, The Star and The Cape Argus. Internationally, his photography and videography has appeared in the Associated Press Images wire, Internazionale Magazine, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and The New York Times.

Frank Barcelos is a Filipino-American journalism major at Rutgers University-Newark. As an aspiring writer and photographer, Frank has the desire to impact communities and influence people to live a positive lifestyle, as well as follow their dreams. He believes that in order to be a world-changer, he has to inspire others to be world-changers as well. 

Jedd Kristjan Marquez is a Filipino-American Journalism major at Rutgers University-Newark. As a growing photographer and journalist, Jedd tends to view the positivity and beauty through the people he meets, the stories he tells, and the photos he captures. He hopes to one day inspire others to do what they love, just as he was inspired. 

Chris Zranchev is a Filipino-Chinese-Bulgarian-American aspiring to become a future photojournalist. Growing up in the United States but coming from such a diverse background, Chris wants to understand where his ancestors have come from. Through visual storytelling, he intends to shed light on his culture and the culture of the others. Chris believes that a camera is a powerful tool and he strives to use it to the best of his ability. Instagram; Flickr

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We are a multimedia collaboratory of journalists, media-makers, artists, faculty and students telling the stories that radiate from the most diverse university in the nation. Based in Newark, NJ, a city shaped by migration, our project affords a glimpse into the world of the newest Americans and a vision of our demographic future.

Newest Americans is produced by the Center for Migration and the Global City, and faculty in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media at Rutgers University Newark in partnership with VII Photo and Talking Eyes Media. We have a large body of contributors and co-conspirators who are credited in the masthead and at the end of each story.

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