Research Resources: Old Essex County Jail

Scholars and students researching the jail can explore this comprehensive database of primary sources. These files are stored on Google Drive. Please credit Columbia University or the respective author of each item you reuse. Unless otherwise specified, all exhibition and website texts are written by Myles Zhang. Files are organized by category in the finding aid below:

 

Contemporary Site Photos

About 250 photos document the jail’s present state of scenic decay. Link. All are taken by Columbia students at Columbia University GSAPP or Myles Zhang.

 

Historic Site Photos

View photos of the jail through time. Unfortunately, few photos survive of when this structure was in operation. Link. Photos are scanned from the collection of the New Jersey Information Center at the Newark Public Library, or from the 1991 landmarks designation report.

 

Elevations + Floor Plans

Contained here are measured plans of each cellblock and elevations of the most important façades. Link. All drawings are by students at Columbia GSAPP.

 

Construction Sequence

This series of photos and plans documents the jail’s gradual construction sequence over 100 years. Scholars can also download a measured, annotated, and animated computer model of the for use in VR applications. Link. Animated construction sequence by Myles Zhang, drawings by Columbia University GSAPP.

 

Data on Prison Life

Select data on prisoner race, gender, and crimes from 1882 and 1921 reveal the kinds of people incarcerated here. Charts and annotated diagrams reveal shifting patterns of crime in Newark. Link. This data is drawn from the following sources:

 

Historic News Clippings

From 1837 to the present-day, various newspapers have written about the jail, including The Star-LedgerNewark Evening NewsNewark Call, and New York TimesLink. All clippings are from the New York Times digital archives, or from the Newark Public Library microfiche.

 

Columbia Student Projects

View Columbia University’s eleven student proposals for this structure’s reuse. Browse on the left sidebar or follow this link. All images and their accompanying statements belong to their respective student author.

The content presented on this website grew from a fall 2018 studio at Columbia University by architects Belmont Freeman and Bryony Roberts. (link to syllabus). The results of their research are also presented in a 45 page report (link to report).

 

National Register of Historic Places

This jail was designated a national landmark of architectural and historic significance in 1991. Read the report by Ulana Zakalak about this structure’s history and construction. Link.

 

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