By JOHN T. WARD
Running along the front of 37-43 Monmouth Street, the century-old sidewalk is inlaid with hundreds of thick squares of purple-tinged glass arranged in neat grids.
For observant walkers, the sidewalk is curiosity underfoot. For the tenants of the building fronted by it, and whose cellars extend underneath it, the sidewalk has been a source of eerie subterranean illumination.
“The light from outside would come right in,” said Teresa Manning, business manager for Rocar Properties, which owns the building.
But the 80-foot-long sidewalk, which passes Monmouth Stamp and Coin Shop and Winters Furs, is in the process of being demolished because the cellar beams supporting it have rotted, said Ben Rumph, the contractor on the job and a tenant of one of the four apartments at that address.
As part of its recent and controversial campaign to relocate underground valves to above-ground locations, New Jersey Natural Gas refused to drill through the sidewalk, fearing a collapse, Manning said. The valves were instead relocated to the rear of the building, she said.
Manning said the sidewalk dates to 1905, when the building, with its ornate red brick facade, was erected.
Not everyone is sad to see it go. Winters Furs owner Jason Simon said the glass was heavily scuffed and chipped, and repairs resulted in a “shabby” patchwork.
“I don’t think it’s any great loss,” he said. “Years ago it might have been interesting, but I think the charm was lost long ago.” Simon said he’s looking forward to a new standard concrete sidewalk trimmed in red brick.