Hamilton Laundry. A&M Industrial Supply. Wheatena. Not exactly historic architectural gems but they are just some of the buildings that no longer grace the landscape in Rahway and RahwayRising.com is one of the few — if only — places you can find them.
If someone had asked me 10 years ago, whether RahwayRising.com would still be around in 2017, I’d probably have said something like…
I haven’t used that reference before but I have mentioned another previously and I will again because it always seems appropriate. I’m often reminded of Harvey Keitel’s character in the 1995 movie “Smoke” when I’m posting stories or photos on the site. Keitel plays a cigar shop owner in Brooklyn who snaps a photo from the same intersection outside his store every day for years. It’s always stuck with me, not just how things can change, but how and who can or should be documenting the change. I often go back to Keitel’s cigar shop and envision someone either sitting on that corner over the course of 20 years, or coming back to after 20 years to see how much has changed — because it always does.
So what’s changed in Rahway over the past decade? You can take a quick glance and learn a lot just by browsing the archives on the site and scrolling through the tags on the lower right of the home page. There’s also the version 1.0 redevelopment map that provides a look at recent developments as well as those under construction and proposed.
Ten years ago, there was still one-way traffic downtown, the tallest building downtown was Rahway Plaza Apartments, and home values everywhere were soaring (who thought interest rates could get any lower?!). RahwayRising.com has even crossed into three mayoral administrations!
There’s no question that the real estate collapse basically froze or changed redevelopment plans in Rahway. The housing crisis no doubte contributed to Carriage City Plaza going into foreclosure, and number of other properties sat for a number of years, while every new project in town now is a rental development rather than a mix of rental and condo as originally envisioned.
The site has probably been pretty wonky over the years, what can I say, I like poring over tax assessments and Abstract of Ratables, property transaction records, and yes, attending zoning and planning board meetings to cover decisions that are made long before any shovels are in the ground. I hope you’ve found the site to be useful over the years and I appreciate those who’ve followed the site and especially those of you who have contributed, whether it’s photos, information or just conversations, and of course our advertisers and those of you who’ve contributed to our crowdfunding campaigns.
RahwayRising.com was started as a means to keep neighbors informed and I’ve always had an interested in local zoning, planning and other governing bodies, but also new technology that rapidly changed the media landscape. I found there was a dearth of information and local news sources and realized at some point, why not do it myself? There was a time when local and daily news covered big things like Carriage City Plaza or attractive renderings of proposals but there are so many other things going on in neighborhoods that are important, like what happens to places like Koza’s Bar or the SID lawsuit and transparency in local government generally.