Highway to Disaster: How the Creation of the New Jersey Turnpike Caused Destruction and Lasting Impacts on the Residents of Elizabeth, NJ
Hayat Abdelal is currently a master’s student at Rutgers/NJIT. As an undergraduate student, she was very involved on campus and served as the President of the Muslim Student Association. Since graduation she has remained an active member of her community and taught in Newark, NJ as a member of Teach for America. Her research interests are centered around racial injustice and legal reform.
Project Site Description:
The New Jersey Turnpike was officially opened for travel on November 30, 1951. The construction of the highway cost millions of dollars including the cost of relocation of industrial facilities. At one point during the construction a decision had to be made whether to build a route that would destroy 450 homes or 32 businesses in Elizabeth, NJ. Ultimately, the decision was made to build through the residential area and demolish the houses. This decision is written off as an inconvenience in the history of the construction of the NJ Turnpike. However, the plowing through a city and cutting neighborhoods in half certainly had drastic effects on the communities living there. My research will focus on the community impacted by the construction of the highway in the 1950s in Elizabeth, NJ. What happened to the residents whose homes were destroyed? How did the residents who remained deal with the impact of smog and major construction now in their backyard? The significance of this research is to understand how construction can have long term effects on communities and to bring attention to injustices caused by highway building and expansions still happening today.
Keywords: Roads, Pollution, Race, Air, Factories