13 March 2017

Julian Place

A place and a moment in time.

My great-grandparents and their children moved frequently, though mostly within the city of Elizabeth, New Jersey. When I find them in a city directory I can guess that they had moved on from the listed address by the time the book was printed and distributed. That leaves me always one step behind as I try to piece together their lives.

I do know that on 9 April 1924, Mary Elizabeth (Klein) Dixon and her three youngest children lived at 2 Julian Place. (1) George Thomas was 26 and my grandfather, Wally, was 19. I'm sure they were both working and helping to contribute to the household. Hazel, the youngest, was 15 and was likely going to school.

The first mention that I found of my grandfather
living at 2 Julian Place.
Mary Elizabeth had filed for a divorce from her husband, William A. Dixon, the previous year and this address is mentioned in a deposition given on the 9th of April. The same address is also given on my grandfather's motor vehicle registration for that year.(2)

Prior to 1911, when the postcard below was mailed, we get a glimpse of the place they called home in 1924. Fast forward thirteen years and replace some of those carriages with automobiles and you can imagine what their street might have looked like.

The corner of Julian Place (on left) and Morris Ave. (on right), Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Postcard in collection of E. Ackermann, 2017.
In a snippet from the 1922 Sanborn Map (3), the size and shape of the building at the intersection of Julian Place and Morris Avenue are a match. The only real puzzle is that the map only shows addresses starting with number four, and it appears that the very corner space has an address on Morris Avenue. This leads me to believe that perhaps the residences on the upper floors were given the number 2, while the street level businesses started at 4. The map shows a staircase leading to the upper floors to the right of the office at number 4. In the postcard you can see the entry next to the leftmost striped awning on the first floor.

1922 Sanborn Insurance Map. (3)
Elizabeth, N.J. (Vol. 1, Sheet 3). Princeton University website.

Meet the neighbors 

Residents of Julian Place.
1924 Elizabeth (NJ) City Directory
* denotes person has telephone (4)
 Here are the folks that lived and worked on Julian Place. This is the whole street – it was only one block long. Notice that the Dixon family isn't listed here. They don't appear at all in the 1923 or 1925 directories either. Perhaps they choose not to be in the listing, or maybe they were boarding with one of the other residents. We'll probably never know.

If you notice, the left side of the street is occupied by the Central Rail Road of New Jersey passenger station. So not only can you imagine the sights and sounds of an urban neighborhood, but you can add to that frequent passing trains, and all those folks getting on and off the trains. What a busy place!

The neighborhood was also full of businesses – real estate brokers, express agents, plumbers, painters, auto and bicycle repair, restaurants. The business at number 8, A.B. Swick,  probably explains the rather extravagant awnings on the corner building. 

Julian Place today

A look at the same block today shows some changes. The buiding that my Great-grandmother and her children lived in is no longer standing. The lot is now occupied by a restaurant with outdoor seating on the corner. The old train station still stands across the street, although it looks like it now houses a restaurant. Train passengers board from the elevated platform on the bridge that crosses North Broad Street. A number of the older buildings on the block on Morris Avenue are still there, giving a bit of a feel of the old neighborhood.

Corner of Julian Place and Morris Avenue, Elizabeth, New Jersey.
The buiding on the corner, where my Great-grandmother and her children lived is no longer standing.
Today that space is occupied by a restaurant with outdoor seating. There's still a nice view of the old train station.
Image : Google Earth.

Buidings on Morris Avenue, heading away from Julian Place. Elizabeth, New Jersey.
It looks like a lot of the old buildings still stand.
Image: Google Earth


(1) Dixon, Mary E. vs. Dixon, William A., 25 July 1923, Chancery Court Records; Superior Court Records Management Center, Trenton, New Jersey; NJSA microfilm 2-23, file number C64-517, New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey.

(2)  Passenger Vehicle Registration, NJ Dept. of Motor Vehicles; Wallace B. Dixon Collection; privately held by Elizabeth Ackermann, [address for private use], 2016. 

(3) Elizabeth, N.J. (Vol. 1, Sheet 3). Sanborn Map Company. New York: Sanborn Map Company, 1922. Princeton University website http://map.princeton.edu/mapviewer/#/xs55mf363 . Accessed 12 March 2017. 

(4) Elizabeth City Directory 1924. Newark, New Jersey: Price & Lee Co., 1924. Page 574. Digital images. Ancestry.com. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : [Accesed 12 March 2017].

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