Newark has less parkspace per capita than most other large cities, but its few parks are charming and well visited.
It's hard to believe that many pristine parks around the country with their expertly manicured lawns were originally used for anything other than relaxation and enjoyment, but the founders of Puritan Newark laid out Newark's parks for public meetings, not relaxation.
Early Newark had three main open spaces, a training ground for the militia, a market place for merchants, and a watering place for animals. In time, these three open spaces would develop into Military Park, Washington Park, and Lincoln Park.
As time went on, Newark's tiny triangular parks became inadequate. In 1867, a city-appointed commission proposed the creation of a 700 acre park in the northwestern part of Newark. The park would have begun at the intersection of Broadway (then Belleville Avenue) and Clay streets and included what is now in Branch Brook Park. The state legislature and city council balked at the $1,000,000 price tag and the idea went nowhere. Much later, half of that land was purchased for Branch Brook Park, but at twice the price.
Thus, in the 1880s, before the creation of Branch Brook and Weequahic Parks, when Newark's population was 150,000, there were only eleven parks in Newark, totally barely 18 acres.
Despite the pleasant design of the Puritan town and the vision of the Beaux Arts movement, at midcentury, Newark still had a shortage of green space for its 400,000 people. Thus, in the 1950s and 1960s, Newark built its housing projects amid park-like expanses. In contrast to the popular colonial era and Beaux-Arts era parks of yesteryear, these Le Corbusier parks have found few to love them.
Branch Brook Lake
Ivy Hill Park