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The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

A Tour of Branch Brook Park


During my first year at NJIT, I had the opportunity to visit Branch Brook Park many times for volunteer opportunities. At first, I didn’t think too much of it; it was more or less required for me to spend weekends at the place. But through many hours of picking up trash, getting my socks muddy, and cutting myself on thorn bushes, I found myself attached. Even today, I figure it to be one of the best places in Newark to escape the urban sprawl for a bit. 

A simple way to get there is to go towards Yaya Tea and follow Central Avenue. Making a right onto Norfolk Street is a straight shot right to the park. If you have the means and you call a ride service to take you there, I wouldn’t make fun of you. As we all know, the option with the least effort involved is always the best one; it’s just a fact. 

I have not actually been to every single part of this park yet. Blame the aches in my feet whenever I try to go past Branch Brook Lake. So, this tour will mostly revolve around that area. If you feel slighted or cheated by this, feel free to find me on campus and yell at my face. 

A little past the entrance shown above, there stands the Shakil Williams Playground. It’s surprisingly big and doesn’t have that wood chip flooring that splinters your hands whenever you fall on them. There’s also a big gazebo with tables; it’s not the cleanest in the world, but it’ll do. If any of our student body out there has kids or is just babysitting for the day, this would be a nice place to hang out. 

The Branch Brook Park Roller Skating Center is a bit farther from the playground; you’d have to walk down to the lake and stay on the right side. If you’re looking for an event, the center can be reached at bbpskating.com. You can tell them I sent you. Or don’t. They don’t know who I am. 

Anyway, the Branch Brook Lake itself! As you can see, we’ve reached the wonderful time of year when all the water turns into lovely matcha latte – delicious! If you are going to go up from the south side, I wouldn’t suggest going along the left side. Trash always seems to fall from the train tracks. People use the right path past the skating center a little more, so it’s usually cleaner to go through. 

The Prudential Concert Grove is commonly the focal point for any social activities in the park. It’s where several volunteer organizations set up their booths and where many people hold festivals and set up markets to walk through. If there’s an event set to happen in Branch Brook Park, there’s a good chance it takes place in this little circle. 

Going straight will take you along the rest of the lake. Now, if you really don’t want to mess up your shoes, turn around. The asphalt kind of stops at some point and the dirt road makes up the rest of the way. Less walked roads also mean some more trash strewn around, but they also lead to some pretty cool wildlife you can come across. 

A group of ducks and geese hanging out on the lakeside. Floating and foraging without much care for anything else. If only life was that simple for all of us. I hate you, waterfowl. 

A…muskrat? Woodchuck? Some beaver cousin? I don’t really know, but they were cool! 

A chicken! Definitely not native to these parts. Someone out there just lost one of their chickens that day. I feel bad for them. 

At the north end of the pond stands the Adubato Sports Complex, your standard grouping of baseball, football, and the other football fields in one area. They usually have people training there throughout the day, so it’s not really a secluded spot. However, if you’re just looking for open spaces to train and play a few games, I’m sure you’ll find this place to be useful. 

Now, I know you’ve been following this tour extremely closely. Good job! You may have noticed that I never said what was on the right side of the lake. Well, it’s because I’ve been keeping something secret from you all. How terrible of me. 

It’s definitely a trek, but a rule of thumb for me is to just keep going towards The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the fifth largest cathedral in North America. You’ll find it there: the best area in this entire park, The Welcome Pavilion. I mean, the flowers that they plant here? The views you get from some of the high points? If you really want a place to just chill and admire all that’s around you, I couldn’t pick a better spot. Being that I’ve spent many hours myself doing upkeep on the place, I’m glad that I’ve helped it stay the best part of this park. 

Some days, when the sun isn’t beaming too hard and the wind is just right, you can find me here. Maybe we could talk about things. Maybe you could show me more places you like. Or you couldn’t, don’t think many people know me beyond words on a page anyway. Still, I do hope you find time to explore for yourself. It really is something special. 

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Aaron Dimaya, Staff Writer
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