Essex County ...            
New Jersey

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by Glenn R. Modica

Newark in 1668. Newark’s topography afforded the town all the natural advantages of drainage and an abundant water supply. 
By the late nineteenth century, all of the city’s watercourses, including the Mill Brook, Newark’s most important waterway
(shown at the upper right) were covered over and used to transport sewage to the Passaic River.
 (From William H. Shaw, History of Essex and Hudson Counties, New Jersey [1884]).

On the eve of the Industrial Revolution, Newark resembled an overgrown village. Unsanitary conditions prevailed
 as streets were unpaved, pigs roamed freely, and garbage and waste were left to rot in the open air. 
(Courtesy of Newark Public Library)

The table shows the order, location and other details of Newark’s brick sewer construction. By 1870, the city had constructed only 12 miles of sewers. (From the 1877 Annual Report of the City Surveyor, City of Newark, New Jersey

Horseshoe-shaped brick sewer under Mulberry Street near Lafayette Street built ca. 1870. 
(Photograph by Specialty Sewer Services, Inc.)

Egg-shaped brick sewer under Muhammed Ali Avenue near Quitman Street built ca. 1870. 
(Photograph by Specialty Sewer Services, Inc.)


Typical sections of egg-shaped, circular-shaped and horseshoe-shaped sewers constructed for the Newark Trunk Sewer in 1887.
 (From Sanitary Engineer and Construction Record, May 7, 1887)

Construction of sewer near the Passaic River (1915). By the late nineteenth century, steam powered machines 
made it faster and less expensive to construct sewers. (Courtesy of Newark Public Library)








Edward Rankin, who held the position 
of Newark’s Chief Engineer of Sewers
and Drainage from 1903-1945, possessed
an intimate knowledge of Newark’s sewers
and wrote extensively on the city’s natural
topography and watercourses.
(From C. Albert Gassner, Men of Newark, 1904)

Plaque commemorating the 1887 completion of Newark Trunk Sewer that alleviated drainage
 problems in the city and the meadows. (Photograph by Glenn R. Modica)

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