Come, citizens of Newark, proud,
Of low or high degrees,
Unite in story, song and ode,
Float banners on the breeze,
Awake the harp and raise the voice
To laud our city’s praise,
For Newark Day is here to stay
Among our festal days.
Our fathers’ spirits shall behold
Their work was not in vain;
What sires once planned the sons have done
Upon Passaic’s plain.
By earnest toil, upon our soil,
As passing years have flown,
The walls of temple, mart and home
Have risen stone on stone.
Europa sent her stalwart sons
From English moor and town,
From German vineyard, Flemish farm,
Or Scottish heather brown,
From Polish plain and Irish bog
And sunny Roman land,
To build anew their hearths and homes
Along Passaic’s strand.
And these with those New England men
Who first sought here a home,
Have labored side by side in peace;
For under heaven’s dome
No dearer place for them, they felt,
Could anywhere be found,
And love of country, love of home,
They learned in tilling ground.
Soon Industry and Thrift came here
To crown our fathers’ toil;
Their wants were few, but well supplied
From Jersey’s fertile soil.
Their gratitude to God they gave
In formal psalm and prayer,
Believing He alone could bless
Their labor and their care.
What mean these massive walls of brick
That look like castles old?
No place of idol state are they,
No keep for hoarding gold;
But busy factories of trade,
Where lathe and loom and wheel
Are busy servants, helping man
Promote the common weal.
What wonder if our fathers erred
In many things they did?
How could they know our present needs
Which Time from them had hid?
For them Passaic’s lordly flow
Brought blessings from the hills,
And on his heaving bosom came
No stain from town or mills.
O citizens, awake and claim
That river for your own,
Its stream and banks a legacy
Of fabled worth has grown.
Your buildings for the public use,
And every park and square,
These are the jewels you must prize
And make your daily care.
Then, long live Newark, proud and great,
The home of industry,
Create new beauties for her own
In stone and spreading tree.
Let all her people join the song
In one triumphant strain,
And praise the town with heart and voice
In loving, glad acclaim.
In 1910 the Board of Education proclaimed the first “Newark Day” and in 1911, with money contributed by Newark pupils, the Schoolmen’s Club began to place a series of bronze tablets honoring figures and features of the city’s distant or recent past. Plaques were dedicated on Newark Day, the first Monday of November, over the course of the next eighteen years.
Martin L. Cox, principal of Thirteenth Avenue School, composed these verses for his students’ Newark Day observance in 1916, the city’s two hundred fiftieth anniversary year. The Newark Star printed the poem on October 26, “so as to bring it before the other school children of Newark, in order to instill civic pride in their hearts.”