Broadway in Camden….. a legendary street, once the “Mall of South Jersey.” Running southwest of 6th Streets past Ferry Avenue and then all the way to Gloucester City, and eventually on to Woodbury, Broadway was extended north from its beginning at Market Street through to the Delaware River (Ben Franklin) Bridge toll plaza in the 1920s.
When Camden began its period of industrial growth and expansion after the Civil War, the intersections of Broadway and Federal Street, Broadway and Kaighn Avenue, and Broadway and Ferry Avenue became anchor locations in the civic and commercial life of Camden and the surrounding areas. Homes and businesses soon filled in the “empty spaces” between these intersections. During the 1890s and the first two decades of the 20th Century, Camden-based contractor John J. Welsh was known in the city as “the man who built Broadway,” as his firm was involved with a great many projects along the thoroughfare.
Brothers George M. Holl and Lewis F. Holl also completed many projects during these years. James H. Reeve, who had worked for Welsh as a foreman, remodeled many of the homes, including those on the Holl Block, between Stevens and Mickle Street, for business purposes. Reeve and his sons also built three theatres on Broadway, the Lyric, the Towers, and the Princess.
In 1938 a proposal was floated to widen Broadway as a state highway project. This went nowhere.
When Camden began its economic decline in the 1950s, Broadway suffered right along with it. Broadway became in many ways the symbol of Camden’s economic fall. Although there have been some new buildings erected in recent years, most significantly the Walter Rand Transportation Center between Broadway and Mickle Streets, far too much of Broadway in June of 2004 consists of vacant lots and boarded up buildings.
Walkathon at Central Airport
Walkathons and Dance Marathons became popular during the Depression years. Promoter W.E. Tebbets set up many of these events all over the country, bringing his own bands and entertainers along to the event. After a successful walkathon at Atlantic City in 1932, Tebbets arranged for a similar contest to be held in the Camden area early in 1933, using one of the hangars at Central Airport as his venue.
The Broadway Trust Company was led by John J. Burleigh, one of the leading businessmen in South Jersey from the 1870s through World War I.
Leon E. Todd, Sr.
Leon Edgar Todd Sr. was born in Camden NJ on November 22, 1893. He operated his real estate agency for many years in Camden at 2623 Westfield Avenue, a building designed by the Camden architectural firm of Lackey & Hettel. Besides handling real estate transactions between buyers and sellers, Leon Todd developed several neighborhoods. One of his most successful projects were the row homes built between Rosedale Street and Westfield Avenue, below North 33rd Street, in East Camden, which were completed in 1925. He also was involved in the fundraising drive that culminated in the building of the Walt Whitman Hotel at Broadway and Cooper streets in 1925.
Zuni Athletic Association
The Zuni Athletic Association sponsored semi-pro sports teams as early as the spring of 1930 and into the early 60s. It appears to have founded in that year. Founding members included Peter Barbalace, Pasquale “Pat” Barbalace, Emil Aceto, John LaPlaca, and Jack O’Neil.
Camden National Bank
Established in 1885, the Camden National Bank opened at 259 Kaighn Avenue on August 13, 1885. Zophar C. Howell was the first President. One of the founders, and an early vice-president was Henry B. Wilson, for whom the H.B. Wilson School at South 9th & Florence Street is named, and whose son was Admiral Henry Braid Wilson Jr., for whom the boulevard is named. Another of Wilson’s son, Philip Wilson, worked for the bank for many years. Other founders included Howard M. Cooper and Isaac C. Toone.
American National Bank
Founded in the mid-1920s, The American National Bank built a fine building at 1213 Broadway which is still standing today, although it has been boarded up and vacant for many years. The bank’s President was Elmer Ellsworth Long, who had been a principle in the Munger & Long Department Store at Broadway and Federal Street for many years. Another director was Louis Waisban, who owned a grocery and had real estate interests in Cramer Hill.
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