After picking up people at Newark airport and driving them to her home in the tree-lined, historic neighborhood of Forest Hill, Catharine Longendyck's visitors always do a double take.

"They ask, 'Are we still in Newark?' " said Ms. Longendyck, 67 years old, a retired executive who lives in her childhood home on Highland Avenue in Forest Hill in north Newark.

Through the city's decline as a multi-industry commercial...

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