The residents of 322 Irvine Turner Boulevard in Newark were the basis for my book No Easy Walk, Newark, 1980-1993. For fifteen years I had photographed, learned and become involved with people who had lived in this tenement. Until 8 p.m. the day after Christmas, 1997, it was home to over 30 adults and 45 children until fire, water and smoke destroyed furnishings, clothes, hopes and dreams.
Looking at the demolition I could still imagine the four-story red brick building, surrounded by apartment buildings. For years each building had had a fire and was razed. 322 was like the last tooth in a gapping mouth and now it met the same fate as the others. As long as anyone could remember 322 had never looked good. But many like twelve-year-old Anthony love this building. "My friends are here and a lot of people I love are here," he told me. "But I would like it better if the place was cleaned up and stuff, for the drug dealers to go away and the block to be nice and neat. And every little kid had a better life to live."