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The city has experienced revitalization since the 1990s.Newark is essentially a large basin sloping towards the Passaic River, with a few valleys formed by meandering streams.Ward boundaries are redrawn, as needed, by a board of ward commissioners consisting of two Democrats and two Republicans appointed at the county level and the municipal clerk.Redrawing of ward lines in previous decades have shifted traditional boundaries, so that downtown currently occupies portions of the East and Central Wards.
Its location at the mouth of the Passaic River (where it flows into Newark Bay) has made the city's waterfront an integral part of the Port of New York and New Jersey. Newark Liberty International Airport was the first municipal commercial airport in the United States, and today is one of its busiest.
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.
Until the 20th century, the marshes on Newark Bay were difficult to develop, as the marshes were essentially wilderness, with a few dumps, warehouses, and cemeteries on their edges.
During the 20th century, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was able to reclaim 68 acres (28 ha) of the marshland for the further expansion of Newark Liberty International Airport, as well as the growth of the port lands.