At morn she rises early, as a busy city should That spends the hours of daylight in the game of “Making Good.” Across the misty meadows she watches for the sun, For worlds of work are waiting, and there’s wonders to be done. She takes a bit of breakfast, she dons her gingham frock, Then sits before her keyboard, with her eyes upon the clock; And when the hands point seven, then loud and joyfully She plays her morning anthem on her steam calliope.
From Belleville down to Waverly, from Bloomfield to the Bay, She fills the morn with music as her chimes and sirens play. The piping trebles start the song, the tenors catch her air, The altos add their mellow notes, the brassy bassos blare; Their thousand voices blend at last in one great living chord Of toil and usefulness and peace—a sound to please the Lord! Listen, O music lovers; was ever heard, think ye, A nobler tune than Newark’s on her steam calliope?
Now dawns a mighty era in the tale of her career, Now golden comes the sunrise of a new and glorious year; And, just as in the old days, her morning sirens call, “Up! Rouse you up, my children! There is happiness for all!” Yes, at this New Year’s advent her whistles fill the morn As sound of heralds’ trumpets when a new world-king is born; And the magic of her music shall set the thousands free Who follow to the calling of her steam calliope!
Leonard Harmon Robbins was a contributor to the Newark Evening News, where many of his poems first appeared. The Newarker published this piece in its January 1916 edition, marking the beginning of the 250th anniversary year. It was reprinted in 1917 in The Newark Anniversary Poems.
The lights are out; the rainbow pictures fade; Their magic beauty and their color-flow And rhythmic grace no eye again shall know; ‘Tis ended now, the lovely masquerade, And those who, wondering, looked, and those who played, Back to the busy commonplace they go, To toiling life that moves so dull and slow; And silent darkness cloaks the parkland glade.
The rainbow pictures fade; but still there gleams The rainbow hope to hold us to our dreams; And lowly toil grows beautiful and bright As hearts urge forward to the coming light; And men in lifelong memory will see The vision of the city that shall be.
The 1916 Pageant of Newark was a piece of historical and allegorical theater written by Thomas Wood Stevens and produced, literally, with a cast of thousands. It offered an exuberant vision of Newarkers’ collective future.
This sonnet appeared on the front page of the Newark Evening News of June 3, 1916, the day after the final performance.
Jasper Crane, With rod and chain, Plotted down Newark Town. Gray with age, Grave and sage, The plan he laid When the town was made.
Pierson, pastor And Treat, the master, Lent him aid When the lines were laid; Wisest three In the colony, And Crane was quick At arithmetic.
“Build,” quoth he, “Fair to see; Serve them well Who here shall dwell.” The years increase To centuries— His work was good And his work has stood.
Broad Street wide, The city’s pride, Throve and grew On the lines he drew; And the Training Place, Our breathing space In the city’s heart, He set apart.
To him we owe The pretty show Of living green, The spot serene Now Washington Square. The townsfolk there Drove cart and shay On Market Day.
The Corners Four His imprint bore— A wildwood then, Untrod by men. He could not see That the cross would be The busiest way In the land one day.
The East Back Street And the West Back Street, Though each may claim A prettier name, Follow the lines Of his designs; Still run by the chain Of Jasper Crane.
Thousands go To and fro In the lanes he broke For the Founder folk. The town’s still new; There is work for you, There are paths to lay As in his day.
Jasper Crane is credited with laying out the original commons and streets of New Haven. He left Connecticut in 1666 for Newark, of which he and Captain Robert Treat became the first magistrates. Evidence is scarce that Crane in fact delineated Broad Street, the Training Place (now called Military Park), the present Mulberry and Washington Streets or other components of Newark’s earliest town plan.
Leonard Harmon Robbins wrote for the Newark Evening News, producing light verse which he later published as Jersey Jingles (1907). “The First City Planning” appeared in the News of May 6, 1916.