Newark, NJ–Take a drive down Ferry Street in Newark’s Ironbound section and you’ve entered a bustling hub of commerce and culture, a collision of diverse sights and sounds that have made the area one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods.
Located in the city’s East Ward, the Ironbound is known for its large Portuguese community, with the first Portuguese immigrants planting roots in the area at the turn of the century.
The neighborhood saw a second influx of Portuguese immigrants in the late 50s, many of them merchants who opened restaurants, cafes, bakeries and grocery stores on or around Ferry Street, the main thoroughfare through town. Since then, the community has continued to thrive and prosper over the course of almost a century.
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Sport Club Portugues (SCP), which celebrated its 96th anniversary earlier this month with a gala celebration at its headquarters on Prospect Street., is considered the lifeblood of the Ironbound’s Portuguese community and has played an integral role in the history of the Portuguese in New Jersey’s largest city.
The cultural and social club—one of the oldest organizations of its kind on the East Coast—first opened its doors on December 17, 1921, in a temporary location on Market Street and in 1939 built the facility that has served as the club’s home for nearly 80 years.
Located in the heart of the Ironbound, the club has become a symbol of Portuguese tradition and culture.
The club offers assistance with finding homes and securing jobs and provides networking and social opportunities for community members. In addition, the club offers a Portuguese language school and a variety of cultural events, programs and initiatives that have served as the foundation of the community.
The club is also known for its adult and youth soccer teams, with two of the club’s youth soccer teams winning first place at the Mid-New Jersey Youth Soccer Association this year. In addition, the club’s adult soccer manager, Americo Marques, was recently awarded the “Manager of the Year” by the NJ Soccer Association.
SCP President Jack Costa expressed pride at the milestone and the impact the club has had on the city.
“We’re very proud of 96 years and in many ways, the club is tied to the Portuguese in the Ironbound,” Costa said. “As the immigration wave came in the 50s, 60s and 70s, this club was always a big part of that. We are a monument of the Portuguese community in Newark and the oldest Portuguese club in New Jersey.”
Costa said the club’s Portuguese school is the foundation of the community, a gathering of youth each Saturday morning where students learn Portuguese language, culture and history.
“The school is one of our most important initiatives,” Costa said. “We are in the process of starting a Portuguese school for adults. They are older and they want to speak and write their parents’ language.”
The club’s famous Sunday dances are also one of the highlights of the organization.
“You hear many stories from those Sunday dances with many people saying that their parents met here at the club at those dances,” Costa said.
The club has attracted a wave of younger Portuguese in their twenties and thirties in recent years, while children and teens remain a vibrant and growing group that takes part in the many activities the club has to offer.
“All these are things that bring kids from outside the laptop and they are making friends and having fun,” Costa said. “We do everything we can to bring people to the club to socialize.”
Former SCP president and longtime member Lui Nogueira said the club played an important role after the Portuguese revolution in 1974.
The Carnation Revolution—known in Portugal as the Revolução dos Cravos—started on April 25, 1974, with a military coup in Lisbon which overthrew the fascist regime of the Estado Novo, or the Second Republic.
The coup, organized by the Armed Forces Movement and composed of military officers who opposed the regime, was soon joined by unexpected civil resistance that eventually led to the fall of the Estado Novo and the withdrawal of Portugal from its African colonies.
The incident was named the Carnation Revolution after members of the public celebrated the victory by placing carnations into the muzzles of rifles and on the uniforms of military men.
“A lot of people came over after the revolution,” Nogueira said. “They worked hard, showed respect and stayed out of trouble. The club helped people get together, socialize and find jobs. By that time, the Portuguese community started to grow and have a huge impact on Newark.”
Nogueira noted that while many other communities dispersed and left Newark after the 1967 riots, the Portuguese community stayed on.
“We stuck around and rebuilt after the riots,” he said. “Other communities like the Polish and German communities left. After the riots, Newark got a big facelift because of the Portuguese community.”
The club is stronger than ever, said Costa, and has remained vibrant through the help of local business and sponsors.
“We depend on local businesses and sponsors such as local banks and construction companies, and rental of the club’s hall is also an important part of our fundraising initiatives,” Costa said. “We are very active because that’s the only way to keep going. Our organization has been a big part of the history of the Portuguese here in Newark. A lot of Portuguese have moved out but they still come back. Even though they don’t live in Newark, they still have a home in Newark.”
Article source: https://www.tapinto.net/towns/newark/articles/sport-club-portugues-celebrates-96-years-in-the-c