Building it

printChoices and Consequences

Elizabeth's Struggle
Newspaper Coverage, 1949-1951

For months, the dilemma in Elizabeth played out in the daily papers: would the Turnpike be routed through the city? Read through these transcriptions to see what unfolded. After Elizabeth lost several court cases to divert the Turnpike, construction began in the winter of 1950. But city officials responded with their own tactics, and it all reached a boiling point when two children accidentally drowned in a water-filled pit left by construction workers.

Tactics of Realtors Buying Homes in Path of Road are Rapped

Newark Evening News, June 30, 1950

Staff Correspondent
     ELIZABETH—Alleged low prices offered Elizabeth residents for their properties in the path of the New Jersey Turnpike and high pressure tactics used by real estate men making the offers were the subjects of a complaint directed to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority yesterday by the Board of Works.
     The board decided to send a letter to W. W. Wanamaker, executive director of the authority, citing the many complaints received about the low prices being offered by several local real estate agents acting as representatives of the authority.
     In one instance, Board President McGowan said, the authority had set a price of $9,000 for a house to be purchased for the right of way, and the real estate man offered the property owner $6,300 for it. When the owner refused to sell at that price, it was said the real estate agent threatened him with immediate dispossession. In another case, it was charged the agent, when rebuffed by an owner, said, "Well, the bulldozer will be through here in a few weeks, then you'll get nothing."

Makes Personal Probe
     Such complaints had become so numerous that Commissioner McGowan spent the morning in the Fourth street area investigating them, he said.
     The Turnpike Authority has appraised all houses to be bought along the Fourth street route through the city and turned those appraisals over to the real estate men to negotiate for title to the properties, McGowan said. The board, he said, feels property owners should be told that their refusal to accept lower offers made by the agents does not mean they will be summarily evicted from their homes. No owner has to accept an offer as final, he pointed out. Even if a condemnation action is brought against him, he has the right to appeal the price offered him under the condemnation, McGowan said.
     Some real estate men acting for the authority, McGowan pointed out, had handled the negotiations courteously explaining to owners that if the price offered was not acceptable, they were entitled to get an attorney and appeal.


Courtesy of the Newark Public Library.

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