the founders

by David Maclure

Reinventing Newark p87
Image: H. M. Pettit, proposed Prudential Insurance Co. Headquarters in Reinventing Newark

Here where a giant city’s pulses throb,
Where falls the tread of ever-hurrying feet
Thronging the broad Rialto of to-day,
Here where triumphant industry and thrift
Have reared their monumental towers on high
And where upon a thousand tides are launched
The argosies of genius, labor, skill,—
Here, bid the Past arise from mists of time,
Here, sweep away the pageant of To-day;
The throngs of hurrying men, the city’s life,
The garnered fruits of husbandry and wealth,
Yea, sweep away the progress and the pride
And all the triumphs of man’s toil and sweat
That centuried time has builded in our midst,
And in the charm of virgin innocence
Behold the commonwealth where now we stand
Bride of the solitude and wilderness.

O fair young bride, how simply art thou busked
Here in thy dwelling by the blue Passaic!
Green meadows eastward to the river’s verge
And westward, upland slopes and forest glades
To mountain solitudes, the scattered homes
Of men, the vagrant lanes that stole away
And fled into the wilderness beyond,
The village church; a fortress and a shrine,
The burial ground, the common and the school,
The planted fields, the low of grazing herds,
The shining river winding to the bay
The green and level meadows washed with brine,
And far away the wandering Hackensack,
A glint of glittering silver in the sun.

And they who made a habitation here,
Who dared the rigors of a wilderness
And met the red man in his native wilds,
Who hewed the forest, planted fertile fields
And built the sacred altar fires of home,
Shall these, the builders of a common-wealth,
The founders of a city, know no fame,
Nor claim the tribute of posterity?
Brave band of sturdy men, heroic souls!
Not heraldry but virtue made thee great,
Plodding the path of humble duty, still
Ye wrought, and builded greater than ye knew,
Yea, on foundations of integrity
Ye laid the civic glory of to-day.

And what a dower of valor, virtue, faith
Is ours. A heritage to guard and keep,
Yea, ours to build upon the prestiged past
Far loftier temples than our fathers dreamed,
’Tis ours to build a city of the soul,
And rising from life’s sordid things to know
That men of virtuous lives and noble aims
Alone can build the perfect common-wealth,
For though our trade, our skill, our wealth increase,
We still may be a shame–for doubt not this:
A city’s glory is her citizens.
Remembering this, great may our city grow,
Each man a partner in prosperity,
Each man a brother to his fellow-man,
Sharing the gains of labor and of skill,
Rich in the spirit’s fruits beyond all else,
Proud of his fellow-man, proud of himself,
Proud of his home, the city beautiful.

David Maclure was the principal of Chestnut Street Primary School between 1890 and 1913. He wrote historical fiction as well as verse.

The 45-story office tower and pedestrian subway shown in the above drawing were proposed in 1916 for the intersection of Broad and Market Streets. They were never built.

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