McGUIRE GARDENS

 

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Welcome to the un-official McGuire Gardens Web page. Here you will find a web-page dedicated to the history of McGuire Gardens, the times in which it was first built, and images and text covering life at McGuire since it was built in 1954.

McGuire Gardens was named in honor of labor leader Peter J. McGuire, who spent a great deal of time in Camden.

Before McGuire Gardens was built, public housing was segregated in Camden. You will find on this page actual documents from the times. The English language constantly evolves, please remember that some of the documents were written using standard vocabulary and grammar in use in the 1940s and 1950s.

If you have any stories or images you would like to share about life at McGuire Gardens over the last 50+ years, please e-mail me.

Phil Cohen



The Proposed Site of Project 10-4 - McGuire Gardens - February 1951


The Proposed Site of Project 10-4 - McGuire Gardens - February 14, 1951

Looking South from Berwick & Watson Streets


The Proposed Site of McGuire Gardens - February 14, 1951

Looking South from Boyd & Watson Streets


The Proposed Site of McGuire Gardens - February 14, 1951

Looking East from South 20th Street


The Proposed Site of McGuire Gardens - February 14, 1951

Looking South along Bank Street


The Proposed Site of McGuire Gardens - February 14, 1951

Looking East on Morse Street  - Intersection of Morse & Berwick Streets


Camden
Courier-Post

June 3, 1951

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Camden Courier-Post - July 14, 1967


...continued...


Camden Courier-Post - July 19, 1967

...continued...


 dismissed.

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Cleanup Day - May 1974

2045 Westminster

Al Ashley

Residents at Work


My name is Art Devlin. I am 66 years old, and lived with my family in the McGuire Gardens in the 
early 60s. We first lived on Westminster, and then moved to 2039 Berwick Street..... funny how I still 
remember that address. We had fallen on hard times as my father didn't make much and there were 
three children to feed. I remember so many things about the place, and in fact, it still feels like home to me in my mind. I've Google Mapped it and it has sure improved from those days. 

I don't know if segregation was still in effect, but there were no black families and only one 
Puerto Rican family in the entire complex...maybe a coincidence; I can't say. We were poor, white 
folks that lived on welfare after my father contracted TB and was hospitalized. The milkman and the 
bread man helped us get by with credit the last week of each month. Once Dad was back, alcoholism 
took him over and he and mom split-up. We eventually moved to Cramer Hill, then to Somerdale, NJ. 
The city was rough so the change was good.

The McGuire buildings had flat, tar and gravel roofs then. I know because we used to scale them 
with our sneakers jammed between the iron rain pipes and the red brick walls. Once on top it was a 
new world with all manner of lost junk up there...sneakers, pimple balls, rocks, baseballs, whiffle 
balls and bats, etc. Getting down was scary though, but no one ever fell, thank God. Sometimes we 
would hide up there to escape the kids that were after us. We also used the crawlspaces as forts; 
digging holes in the yellow clay and taking shelter from the summer heat. 

When the grass got high, we trekked to the office where Mrs. Soistmann, the superintendent and a scary authority figure, had her office. We would be given a loaner push-mower which we would 
return when the lawn was... chopped.

We also explored the fields between the Gardens and Admiral Wilson Boulevard. We were always trying to hunt rodents with slingshots, build forts, or investigate the mulberry tree grove where the huffers would leave their empty glue tubes and bags from their overnight activities. We were always puzzled by the evidence and incredulous at what they were doing and why.

Finally, at the age of twelve in 1964, I remember seeing The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show in in 
that little end-row house. I now know that it was early February, which I didn't remember, but I do 
remember it being a Sunday night of course. Afterwards I ran out of the house into an unseasonably 
mild night and tried to grasp what just transpired. 

So, maybe you can see why it still feels like home to me. It was there when I became aware of being 
alive I guess you could say.

Regards,

Art Devlin
June 10, 2018


McGuire Gardens Reborn

Work on completely rebuilding McGuire had begun in the early 1990s, but stalled due to mismanagement. The project was completed by the administration of Dr. Maria Marquez, who was appointed Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the City of Camden in the summer of 1999. The event mentioned below took place on August 12, 2002.


Bank Street
&
Raritan Street

August 2, 2002


Southwest Corner
of
Bank Street & Morse Street

191 Morse Street

July 21, 2004

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Looking West
on
Morse Street
from
Bank Street

July 21, 2004

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Looking South
on
Bank Street
from
Morse Street

July 21, 2004

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