Newark's big bottle in danger

60-foot tall landmark that once advertised Pabst may come down

Apr 14, 2004 - A New Jersey landmark immortalized in song as "The Big Pabst Bottle," and more recently famous when it appeared in an episode of the "Sopranos," could be coming down. The giant 60-foot tall bottle still tops a former Pabst brewery, but a developer has bought the property and plans to build retail stores and housing there.


Gregory Comito, an architect and principal in New West, the developers who will build on the site, said the firm is still investigating whether the bottle can be saved because of its deteriorated state.

"Our plan is to incorporate that bottle into a park on South Orange Avenue," he said. "We think it'll make a nice feature, a nice nostalgic piece. If we can save it, we will."

The bottle's crown is 185 feet above street level. It measures 17 1/2 feet in diameter below the tapered neck, and when it functioned as a water tower it could hold 55,000 gallons. It first advertised Hoffman's Pale Dry Ginger Ale when it went up in 1930. Made of copper-plated steel plates about a quarter-inch thick, the bottle had a "glossy coat of enamel" and was "topped by a stopper of glittering gold." At night, it was flooded with light.

When prohibtion ended, Hoffman Beverage Co. began brewing beer, and later 1945 Pabst Brewing purchased Hoffman. The soda bottle was repainted to become a beer bottle.

"I've talked to people around the world and they know about that bottle," said Jerry Benz, who wrote "The Big Pabst Bottle" along with Fabian McCarthy Jr. "They identify New Jersey with that bottle."

Pabst closed the plant in 1985 and - as shown last month on the HBO series the "Sopranos" - the building and neighborhood have deteriorated since. Pictures are available at Old Newark.

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