Dozens of writers, actors, actresses and music personalities were born in the hardscrabble neighborhoods of Newark—New Jersey’s largest city, and the nation’s 67th most populous municipality.
Mystery novelist Harlan Coben and fiction writer Philip Roth are both natives of the city, and Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander was born there as well. Film director Brian DePalma, tough-guy actors Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta, rapper Ice-T, and actress and talk show host Queen Latifah, are also among the many Newark-born celebrities. Former New York Mayor Ed Koch was raised in and graduated from high school in Newark and the late Whitney Houston was born in a middle-class Newark neighborhood and learned to sing gospel music there at the local Baptist church. Singer-composers Frankie Valli and Paul Simon also were born in the city’s wards.
As of the 2010 U.S. Census, Newark’s population stood at 277,140 people, making it the second largest city in the New York metropolitan area. Newark, the largest city (by population) in the Garden State, and the county seat of Essex County, serves as one of the nation's major air, shipping, and rail hubs.
In the heart of New Jersey's Gateway Region, and approximately 8 miles west of Manhattan, the city is home to Port Newark, the major container shipping terminal in the Port of New York and New Jersey, and the largest on the East Coast. Newark Liberty International Airport was the first municipal commercial airport in the United States, and today is one of its busiest.
Newark, New Jersey was originally founded in 1666 by a group of Connecticut Puritans led by Robert Treat from the New Haven Colony. The city saw tremendous industrial and population growth during the 19th century and early 20th century, and experienced racial tension and urban decline in the second half of the 20th century, culminating in the 1967 Newark riots. The city has experienced revitalization during the 1990s and early 21st century.