Sunday, July 26, 2009

History of the Jokers lair



I went up to Seton Hall again yesterday, this time to take up a bed. Actually I came back with oldest son and never delivered the bed so really what I did was to take the bed for ride. But I digress.

We visited the exterior of the Jokers Lair. We couldn't get in since the real estate agent wasn't around. So we checked out the building and the neighborhood.

It looks a lot like the google street view except the 1 story building on the west side of the block has been knocked down. While there, I noticed there was a smoke stack with "HERTZ" written vertically down the stack.

Now the amateur historian in me kicked. I had to know what this building was. Off to the interweb.

First try searching for anything named Hertz and not about rent-a-cars. It's not easy, Hertz rent a car darkens the Google sky.

Subtracting rentacar, I eventually I found this with the following description of the Max Hertz Leather russet buffing company of Newark, NJ.

THERE are many firms engaged in manufacturing within the boundaries of the city of Newark with productions so enormous they would startle any who had not made themselves acquainted with the facts in all their various forms as they exist at the present time, when considering the productions of these great industrial concerns throughout the cities of the United States. There does not readily come to mind a more creditable Newark house than the firm of Max Hertz, manufacturer of russet leather, located, office and factory, 54-78 Oliver street. The business was established in 1892, and Mr. Hertz is the largest russet buffing manufacturer and dealer in the entire country. He manufactures russet buffing, rough splits, russet grains for the automobile, furniture, carriage and bookbinding trade, The trade in pickled splits is also extensive. The premises occupied consist of a three- story structure 225x50 feet, a four- story building 100x25 feet, an L- shaped building 60x150 feet, and also a one-story building 225x50 feet, and gives employment to from 50 to 70 men. Plans are now being prepared for the erection of more buildings, owing to a large increase in all goods manufactured by this firm.

The factory is modern and up-to- date, and the product turned out is sold throughout the United States and exported in large quantities to Europe. He has representatives who sell his goods in all countries. Max Hertz, the proprietor, always shows an obliging disposition, and is ever ready to do his share toward any civic proposition, with the advancement of Newark as its aim. He has telephone connections, 2671 and 2672 Market.

This is from the 1912 book "Newark, City of Industry" which Google Books scanned. I'm guessing that the building still standing was part of the "erection of new buildings" since it is 4 stories and bigger than 100x25. So the building is less than 100 years old.

So what once "Buffed Russets" is now home to Artists and the "Detox the Ghetto" sign . Fascinating.
Now I'm stuck wondering what ever became of the "Leather Russet Buffing" industry? I'm guessing "Buffed Russets" were big on stage coaches.

So I think we worked it out so that the Joker's Lair is a contingency only and that original apartment, adjacent to school is the first choice.

While there we became enamored with Ironbound. It's like a Portuguese South Philly with a NY flavor. We had dinner at the Casa Nova Grill on Ferry. It is a poor man's Fogo de Chao and so for $20 I had the all you can eat meat on skewers. It was good.

Generally I like the area and it is night and day compared to just a few blocks away in downtown Newark.

I'm still not convinced this is the place for a College sophomore though.

Pictures here.

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