1910-era map of ethnic enclaves in Newark, New Jersey
Newark was settled in 1666 by Connecticut Puritans led by Robert Treat from the New Haven Colony. It was conceived as a theocratic assembly of the faithful, though this did not last for long as new settlers came with different ideas. On October 31, 1693, it was organized as a New Jersey township based on the Newark Tract, which was first purchased on July 11, 1667. Newark was granted a Royal charter on April 27, 1713. It was incorporated on February 21, 1798 by the New Jersey Legislature's Township Act of 1798, as one of New Jersey's initial group of 104 townships. During its time as a township, portions were taken to form Springfield Township (April 14, 1794), Caldwell Township (February 16, 1798; now known as Fairfield Township), Orange Township (November 27, 1806), Bloomfield Township (March 23, 1812) and Clinton Township (April 14, 1834, remainder reabsorbed by Newark on March 5, 1902). Newark was reincorporated as a city on April 11, 1836, replacing Newark Township, based on the results of a referendum passed on March 18, 1836. The previously independent Vailsburg borough was annexed by Newark on January 1, 1905. In 1926, South Orange Township changed its name to Maplewood. As a result of this, a portion of Maplewood known as Ivy Hill was re-annexed to Newark's Vailsburg.
The name of the city is thought to derive from Newark-on-Trent, England, because of the influence of the original pastor, Abraham Pierson, who came from Yorkshire but may have ministered in Newark, Nottinghamshire. But Pierson is also supposed to have said that the community reflecting the new task at hand should be named "New Ark" for "New Ark of the Covenant and some of the colonists saw it as "New-Work", the settlers' new work with God. Whatever the origins, the name was shortened to Newark, although references to the name "New Ark" are found in preserved letters written by historical figures such as David Ogden in his claim for compensation, and James McHenry, as late as 1787.
During the American Revolutionary War, British troops made several raids into the town. The city saw tremendous industrial and population growth during the 19th century and early 20th century, and experienced racial tension and urban decline in the second half of the 20th century, culminating in the 1967 Newark riots.
The city has experienced revitalization since the 1990s. In 2018 the city passed legislation to protect residents from displacement brought about by gentrification.