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Prudential Center anchors Newark's vibrant core

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils

The Newark skyline will be a familiar sight for fans visiting the new Prudential Center. – Some Devils fans might simply think of Newark as the new home of their beloved three-time Stanley Cup Champions.  

But for those not already in the know, Newark is one of the most culturally vibrant and accessible destination spots in the tri-state area – and its stock is rising.

Since the July release of the National Hockey League's 2007-08 schedule, Devils diehards from Alpine to Cape May and across the Hudson River have been counting down the days until the team's home opener on Sat., Oct. 27, against the Ottawa Senators.

While the Devils' schedule alone will serve up 41 dates of major-league sporting action right in the heart of the city's downtown, the brand-new Prudential Center will also deliver up to 150 live events that have little to do with sticks or pucks, beginning with Bon Jovi's opening-night concert on Thursday, Oct. 25.

Because Prudential Center is the first major sports and entertainment venue to be built in the metro area in the last 25 years, it figures that the building's specs were designed to impress.

The Downtown/Arts District is the center of attention in Newark's vibrant core.

Plan your trip: Mass transit  |  Driving directions
Prudential Center: Photo galleries | News archive
The deep red exterior with its ferrous gray accents was inspired by Newark's brickmaking and railroad heritage. On the inside, eight million pounds of structural steel and 25,000 cubic yards of concrete come together to form an 850,000 sq.-ft. space that will house 17,625 seats for hockey games, 750 flat-screen televisions, a 350-seat restaurant, 76 luxury suites, five concourses, and two club lounges.

Still, Prudential Center's singular amenities and full slate of attractions are just the latest additions to Newark's already rich menu of museums, entertainment and fine dining. And, like Devils games, it's all readily available via public transportation.

The third-oldest city in the United States behind Boston and New York, Newark has served as one of New Jersey's busiest business centers and travel hubs for more than three centuries. Home to the newly-restored historic Penn Station, Newark affords visitors the option of leaving their cars home and arriving by rail or Light Rail. In fact, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, and PATH services make it possible to go from the rails to "The Rock" in just minutes.

For added convenience, New Jersey Transit will operate on routes and schedules that accommodate the conclusions of Prudential Center events, making it easier than ever to plan a round-trip route on public transportation.

Since its founding in 1666, Newark has counted General George Washington and President Abraham Lincoln among its visitors, and has produced talents such as novelist Phillip Roth, singer Sarah Vaughan, and dancer/choreographer Savion Glover. Thomas Edison once called it home.

That legacy of creative innovation is still being upheld in Newark's Downtown/Arts District, located just blocks from Prudential Center's 4,800 sq.-ft. LED screen on Mulberry Street.

On Center Street, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) has enjoyed a decade as one of the nation's premier venues for the arts, having hosted world-class performances from renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Also based in Newark, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra performs in seven different venues throughout northern New Jersey, including NJPAC.

For a trip back in time, the nearly century-old Newark Museum on nearby Washington Street houses both the Dreyfus Planetarium and the restored 19th-century Ballantine mansion, a National Landmark.

Visitors to the state's largest museum will also find works of American and World art, as well as a collection of Tibetan works considered to be among the best in the world. The Museum frequently hosts traveling exhibitions, making for a new experience with virtually every trip.

Down the street from the Museum is Newark's Public Library, which stocks over one million book titles on its shelves, and offers both gallery exhibits and free Wi-Fi internet access.

Spring visitors to Newark should plan to see the cherry blossoms in April at Branch Brook Park, which is serviced by New Jersey Transit's Newark Light Rail. The 19th-century park boasts 3,500 white and pink cherry trees, roughly 500 more than the famed buds near the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. On Saturdays through October 27, be sure to check out the park's Farmers' Market from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for fresh produce, locally baked goods, and live music.

For those looking to experience Newark's sights on foot, the New Jersey Historical Society keeps the city's vibrant past alive by offering guided tours of Newark's many notable locales, including stops at some of Newark's 19th-century architecture and 17th-century public parks.

Founded in 1845, the NJHS uses its Park Place location to showcase a collection of rare items that allows visitors to trace New Jersey's history from colonial era to modern day.

Exploring downtown Newark is sure to build up an appetite, in which case the Ironbound neighborhood east of Penn Station is just the place to indulge in some of the best cuisine in town.

Enjoy the grilled meats of a Brazilian churrascaria or the fresh seafood of a Spanish tapas bar, and follow it all up with a stop at a Portuguese bakery for a sweet custard cup (pastel de nata). The eateries lining Ferry Street, south of Market, reflect the convergence of international flavors that can make a trip to the Ironbound so unique, whether before or after an event at Prudential Center.

On any given trip to Newark, Prudential Center patrons will be able to choose from a full menu of Devils hockey, Ironmen professional indoor soccer, Seton Hall men's basketball, boxing or live shows.

New Jersey's all-new, championship-caliber venue, however, will only hold some of the possibilities in this city that's not only full of things to do and see, but also just a quick train ride away.

Online resources
City of Newark
Newark Now
Downtown District
Go Newark
NJ Transit
Shopping in Newark
Many Newark retailers, including those of the Ironbound, offer shoppers a 50% discount on New Jersey state sales tax as part of the city's status as an Urban Enterprise Zone. Simply look for storefront signs promoting 3.5% sales tax, or visit for more information on participating vendors.

Early Newark
Population: 86
1714: First school house erected.
1775: Population: 1000
1776: General Washington stationed in Newark with an army of 3,000 men for five days.
1790: Newark's first major industry established: shoemaking.
1798: President Adams passes through Newark three times.
1810: Population - 8008
1820: Population - 6507
1834: Newark made a port of entry.
1836: Streets of Newark lighted with oil lamps.
1840: Ballantine Brewing is founded. By the 1880s, Ballantine is the sixth largest brewer in the nation.
1840-70: The 19th century brings Newark's industrial boom, and over a 30-year span the city's population jumps from 17,290 to 105,000.
1846: First fire hydrants installed.
1853: First street paved using round stones.
1915: The Newark Peppers, the only officially recognized Major League Baseball team in New Jersey history, play one season in the Federal League. They finish fifth with a record of 80-72.
1916: The Newark Bears of the International League are formed. The Bears become a New York Yankees farm team in 1932, and win five league championships before moving to Springfield, Mass., in 1949.
1930: The Newark Tornadoes join the National Football League, posting a 1-10-1 record. They lose their last-ever game, 34-7, to the New York Giants on October 29, 1930, and fold after just one season.
1936: The Newark Eagles of the Negro Leagues are formed.

Modern Newark
In a nod to the city's baseball past, the newly-formed Newark Bears join the North Division of the Atlantic League, and later win the 2002 Atlantic League Championship.
2004: The New Jersey Devils send a letter of intent for the relocation of the team to Newark.
Feb. 2005: The Devils and Newark formally sign agreement on the team’s new downtown arena.
April 2005: Official from the Devils, city of Newark, and Morris Adjmi unveil the model/design for Newark Arena at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
October 2005: Groundbreaking ceremony takes place near Lafayette Street at the arena site.
January 2006: Devils and Newark reach a definitive agreement on the team’s financial commitment to Newark Arena.
March 2006: First steel columns are erected at Newark Arena.
January 2007: Devils Arena Entertainment (DAE) announces a 20-year naming-rights partnership with Prudential Financial;  team’s new home will be known as “Prudential Center.”
February 2007: Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), is selected to manage Prudential Center.  AEG Live will book concerts and other special events for the arena.
March 2007: Topping-off ceremony takes place as the final piece of steel is placed atop highest point at Prudential Center.
May 3, 2007: AEG announces that New Jersey’s Bon Jovi will open Prudential Center on Thursday, October 25, 2007.
May 17, 2007: Seton Hall University announces that Prudential Center will be the new home of the Pirates men’s basketball team.
June 2007: The Major Indoor Soccer League’s New Jersey Ironmen are introduced as the newest tenants at Prudential Center.

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