Newark, DE (NRK)
Located south of the University of Delaware campus, the Amtrak station is adjacent to the popular James F. Hall biking and walking trail.
10 Mopar Drive
Newark, DE 19713
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 12,896
- Facility Ownership: DTC
- Parking Lot Ownership: State of Delaware
- Platform Ownership: Amtrak
- Track Ownership: Amtrak
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
Newark’s passenger rail station, shared with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) trains, sits beside its single track on the Northeast Corridor tracks, opposite the former Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore (PW&B) Railroad station, which is no longer a working station. Consisting of a platform and small modern bus-stop-style acrylic and metal shelters, passengers reach the Newark station from the parking lot adjacent to the former Chrysler plant site or stairs from the College Avenue overpass.
Although modest in appearance, the current station is sited conveniently across from the University of Delaware campus. Over the rails, the James F. Hall trail, popular with local walkers and bike riders, runs directly behind the historic PW&B station building. The depot was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 23, 1982.
The one and a half story Victorian brick PW&B station, designed by architect/engineer S.T. Fuller, opened for passenger service in 1877. While it was rather grand for a town of 3,000, it proclaimed the railroad and city’s ambitions and prosperity to the world. Located at an important railroad junction where the Delmarva Peninsula line joined the PW&B main line—the latter being the only link between Baltimore and Philadelphia until the 1880s. In that day, the station sat just northeast of busy rail yards (which Norfolk Southern still operates) and across the tracks from a freight-station/stockyard complex. The greenhouses and gardens that surrounded the station supplied cut flowers for the dining cars on the PW&B and later, the Pennsylvania Railroad, up through the 1950s.
The historic station is built on a “T” plan with a hipped cross-gable roof and Victorian detailing; the top of the T faces the platform and rails. Six single gable-roofed dormers pierce the roof, sheltering double windows, each with gothic arched openings. Detailed ornamental brackets grace the lowest projecting corners of the dormers, and sawtoothed detailing in brick connects the stone window sills. Originally the roof covering was slate, but now is modern gray asphalt shingle.
The outer walls are laid in brick in a full stretcher bond pattern, with dual first-story belt courses of black (tar-dipped) brick with red herringbone brick in between. On the first floor, facing the platform, a shallow version of the traditional station-master’s bay juts out, and its own large gothic arched windows face the tracks. On the platform side, the separate men’s and women’s waiting rooms are reached by double doors set symmetrically on either side of the projecting bay. The gothic arched windows with stone sills repeat again, two to the bay on the far sides of the doors, and a triple bay on either end of the building. The rearward wing projecting from the cross provides a single, less ornamented entry on its end. Wide porch sections provide shelter, front and back, upheld by large, elaborate brackets. The foundation is faced with rough-dressed granite slabs.
Just as the PW&B was subsumed into the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), Amtrak inherited the Newark station when it took over operations from the short-lived Penn Central merger of the PRR and New York Central. The station had shifted from passenger traffic to freight only, and in the 1970s, after transfer to Amtrak, the station building was closed. There had also been a B&O station on parallel tracks about a mile to the northeast of the PW&B/PRR station, but that tiny 1945 depot is used by the freight railroad. The nearby railroad hotel, the Deer Park Tavern, had always been privately owned and is still open for business.
On July 28, 1986, Newark’s city council authorized an application for a state of Delaware Bicentennial Improvement Fund grant for the acquisition and redevelopment of the Newark PRR station, and on March 27, 1987, Amtrak deeded the station building over to the city. By September, the city had hired John Milner Associates of West Chester, Pa., to develop architectural specifications for restoration. In the late summer of 1988, Roberts Construction of Frederica, Del., began restoration work. The work encompassed the first floor ticket booths, the ladies’ and men’s waiting rooms, modernized upstairs offices (formerly stationmaster’s quarters), and rebuilt canopies on the exterior. The building currently houses the Newark History Museum, which features more than 30 exhibits covering three centuries of local history.
By 2000, Amtrak and SEPTA traffic had increased to the point where expansion of the current station became necessary. In 2004 and 2005, public workshops were held, and by 2007 Delaware DOT (DelDOT) and its subsidiary, the Delaware Transit Corporation (DTC), together with a consortium of other organizations led by the Wilmington Area Planning Council (WILMAPCO), proposed improvements to the regional commuter rail system.
With the support of its project partners, WILMAPCO subsequently won a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) II grant in October 2010. Awarded through the U.S. Department of Transportation, the $2.25 million in planning funds was used to address transportation needs surrounding the redevelopment of the former Chrysler assembly plant located on the south side of the tracks across from the current station.
Purchased by the University of Delaware in 2009, the 272 acre parcel will become a new campus dedicated to science and technology research. It will be home to academic buildings and labs, but also public spaces and parks, as well as housing and retail. In this vein, the redevelopment of this brownfield parcel also presented a solid opportunity to relocate the train stop and construct a larger, modern facility. The TIGER II grant funded the environmental review for the station site required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and allowed for the start of preliminary engineering.
In June 2012, WILMAPCO won a $10 million TIGER IV grant that will be used for the final design and construction of an intermodal center to be served by Amtrak, SEPTA commuter rail, local buses and other transportation providers. The facility will be ADA compliant and passenger boarding and alighting will be expedited by a new platform that is level with the doors of the train cars. The facility will also be designed to accommodate future growth, such as a proposed expansion of SEPTA service and an extension of Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) rail into Delaware.
Besides bootstrapping modernized transportation-oriented development around the station, the project will also eliminate a critical freight/passenger rail bottleneck along this portion of the Northeast Corridor. A reconfiguration of the tracks and the addition of new trackage will ensure easy access to the busy Norfolk Southern Newark Yard and the station while lessening the chance of congestion.
As of early 2015, the total estimated cost of the intermodal station and track improvements was $35 million. In addition to the TIGER IV grant, the project partners have committed the following amounts: $12.7 million, DelDOT via the state of Delaware’s Capital Transportation program funds; $3 million, University of Delaware; $250,000, city of Newark; $25,000, WILMAPCO; and $25,000, New Castle County. City officials hope that the reuse of the Chrysler site by the university will spur economic development in this section of Newark.
Newark, originally a small Scots-Irish and Welsh settlement, grew up in the 1700s as a waypoint between the Chesapeake bay and colonial Philadelphia, at the intersection of two old Indian trails and the fall line where Christina and Clay Creeks turn sharply eastward toward the Delaware River. The streams flowed sufficiently fast to allow construction of sawmills and grist mills, and local wheat and corn were brought for grinding early on. A tannery, ironworks, and market added to the village; and in 1758, Newark was chartered by King George II of England.
A small preparatory and grammar school moved from New London, Penn., to Newark in 1765, and the Newark Academy flourished until the American Revolutionary War, when it was closed and its funds were seized by the British. Following the war, the school and town grew slowly until, in 1833, the state of Delaware granted a charter to Newark College, later renamed Delaware College—which merged with the Academy the next year. The college closed for a time during the Civil War, to reopen in 1870. A Women’s College, linked academically and physically to Delaware College, started in 1914; the two institutions were formally combined in 1944 under a new charter and new name: the University of Delaware.
During the late 18th and 19th century, industrial concerns such as paper companies and vulcanized rubber diversified Newark’s economy. The PB&W, which had come in 1837, was joined by the Baltimore & Ohio in 1886, providing additional passenger and freight service to the region. Thus connected to other population centers in the northeast and south, Newark grew a substantial retail market between the First and Second World Wars in conjunction with its College and industrial expansion. DuPont facilities were opened in the 1940s, and in 1951, the Chrysler Corporation constructed its Newark Assembly Plant.
Coinciding with Chrysler’s arrival the state granted Newark a city charter that doubled its size. The postwar economic boom led the city to expand to where it is now Delaware’s second largest, behind Wilmington. And by the late 1990s, the city recognized the need to preserve and redevelop its downtown core, including historic building incentives, Main Street festivals and public art programs
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at this station.
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