broad street

by Augustus Watters

Image: newarkstory
Image: Newark Story


When lilacs bloom in urban bowers,
Sweet harbingers of summer hours,
And cherry-blossoms lightly fall
Like snowflakes by the garden wall;
When robins hide in apple-trees,
And pansies nod in every breeze,
And like cathedrals, tall and grand,
Our hoary elms majestic stand,
While underneath the current flows
Of human joys and human woes,
Then seems the street a mighty stream
On which we mortals drift and dream.
Here toiled the Fathers in the fields,
Where earth her truest treasure yields,
And here the Sons, with reverent eyes,
Behold a royal harvest rise.
Yet ever, ‘neath the starry cope,
The radiant barges Love and Hope
Move side by side with Grief and Care,
And all the flotsam of Despair.
In vain the pilots seek to force
Their way against the current’s course,
And where they’re bound, or whence they came,
Nor sage, nor bard can ever name.
And none of all the fleets that glide
Along the weird and heaving tide
Turn back their prows or ever teach
What Port the later Pilgrims reach.

Frustration with Newark’s congested streets led to the opening in 1916—Newark’s 250th anniversary year—of the Public Service Terminal on Park Place, a few blocks north of Broad and Market. Linked to the terminal was the city’s earliest subway, a short trolley line segment beneath Cedar Street. The new terminal saw more than 2,500 streetcar stops per day in 1916.

Augustus Watters’ meditation on bustling Broad Street was included in The Newark Anniversary Poems, published the following year.

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