Long beset by inner-city problems, Newark has in recent decades made a turnaround. New Jersey's largest city and one of its oldest, Newark grew very quickly into a major commercial center. (Its labor force was supplied by a steady stream of immigrants arriving from New York City.) The 1950s and 1960s brought the development of the suburbs and saw many people move away to surrounding communities. Subsequently, many of the city's fine old buildings were neglected or destroyed. Renewal has been taking place since the 1980s, and some old landmarks, such as the 1937 art-deco Penn Station, have been restored, and riverfront commercial developments, such as Gateway Center, have sprung up.

Newark is not yet a tourist destination in itself, but if you happen to be in the area, don't miss the great Portuguese restaurants and bakeries in the Ironbound District. Make time to tour the Newark Museum and its wealth of diverse exhibits and collections, ranging from Hudson River landscape paintings to ancient Buddhist kingdoms, along with the museum's Dreyfuss Planetarium and Mini Zoo ( Thanks to the 1989 renovation and expansion designed by world-renowned architect Michael Graves, the museum is worth visiting for its architecture alone.

Located just off Park Place in downtown Newark is the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, a 1,800-seat theater designed with classical and jazz concerts in mind. It's a world-class facility with a full season of music, ranging from jazz, classical and opera to rock concerts. Plays are held there, too. The smaller Victoria Theater offers workshop and educational space. Several adjoining restaurants offer quick, simple food for those seeking dinner and a show. Concerts are also held at Symphony Hall, a historic landmark and one of the largest performing-arts centers in the state. Less than 10 mi/16 km west of Newark is the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, one of New Jersey's main venues for dramatic plays and Broadway musicals.

Less than 5 mi/8 km northeast of the Meadowlands, in Teterboro, is the Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum of New Jersey. It's housed at Teterboro Airport, the oldest operating aviation facility in the New York-New Jersey metro region, once used by Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and Admiral Richard Byrd, and now the departure point for many humanitarian and emergency flights. Museum visitors can inspect the old control tower as well as vintage aircraft, engines, artifacts and more.

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