Remembering The Past: Elizabeth Memories

By Diane Norek Harrison

ELIZABETH-These are memories from William Frolich: “A sad loss to the shopping public was the disappearance of the once familiar ‘five-and-ten cent’ store. Broad Street once had two such stores within only two blocks in the center of town. One, of course, was the Woolworth Store, that advertised ‘nothing in this store is over ten cents.’ This may have been true in the early days, but that slogan vanished before the store did, a victim of progress.

“It is hard to imagine the City of Elizabeth without its famous Arches, but they appeared only a little more than 100 years ago. Before that time, everything at that intersection was at ground level, and the growing vehicle and railroad traffic became a safety hazard. To cure the problem, the streets were depressed, the Central Railroad remained at ground level, and the Pennsylvania Railroad was elevated high above the Central. Morris Avenue was cut off at the Central tracks, and was connected to North Broad Street with a very short street known as ‘Railroad Place.’ The double tracks of the Broad Street trolley cars passed at street level under the right hand Arch and continued along North Broad Street with switches in the rails that allowed cars to connect to Morris Avenue by way of Railroad Place.


“The stores in the immediate area found that their basements had now become their first floors after the streets were depressed, and had to reorganize their businesses. The modern automobile traffic flowed well for a few years, but later each arch became one way, with north-bound traffic using the east arch, and south-bound traffic using the west arch. However, as the rails for both the north and south bound trolleys were in the eastern arch, a north-bound motorist intending to left-turn toward Morris Avenue might suddenly find himself facing head-on to a south-bound trolley from Morris Avenue coming through the north-bound arch. This problem continued until the trolleys were replaced by buses.”

As I am typing this, this will be my last REMEMBERING THE PAST column for Union County due to lack of interest, unless I hear from new contributors with old memories. This is a reader contribution column. Thank you to all that have contributed through the years of doing this column.

If you have your own memories or past information for Union County you can email me at or send copies of your material to me c/o CMD Media, 1139 East Jersey St., Suite 503, Elizabeth NJ, 07201.

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