Princeton

Overview

Introduction

Princeton is best known for the ivy-draped university of the same name, originally established as the College of New Jersey at Nassau Hall in 1756 and renamed Princeton University in 1896. Walks (guided or otherwise) through the leafy university campus will give you an opportunity to see some of the finest neo-Gothic architecture anywhere. Nassau Hall, the Firestone Library, the Art Museum and the Natural History Museum are all must-see sites. Nassau Hall (1756) served several important functions during the American Revolution. The free Princeton University Art Museum is one of the leading university art museums in the country—its impressive collection includes more than 60,000 works ranging from ancient to contemporary art from the world over.

Princeton's other claim to fame is that it was the adopted home of Albert Einstein. His modest house is on Mercer Street—but unfortunately, no visitors are allowed inside (though eager fans have been known to climb over the iron gate). If you consider yourself an Einstein groupie, walk over to the small Einstein museum inside Landau's store on Nassau Street. Einstein's brain still resides at Princeton's University Medical Center.

Off-campus, stop in at the 1766 Georgian-style Bainbridge House. It's the historical society's museum—and a great place to pick up all the information you need about touring Princeton. The Princeton Battlefield Park commemorates George Washington's Princeton victory in 1777. It's also where visitors can get a by-appointment tour of the 1770 Thomas Clarke House—a furnished Quaker farmhouse that served as a hospital during the Battle of Princeton. Historic Morven was built in the 1750s for Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and served as a one-time residence of the state's governors. If you'd like to see the current official home of New Jersey's governor, head over to Drumthwacket, an 1835 mansion on Stockton Street. Rockingham, the 1740 home of a gentleman farmer, was Gen. Washington's headquarters August-November 1773, when the Continental Congress met in Nassau Hall. You can tour the house to see a wonderful collection of 18th-century art and furnishings. When you've finished up all that historical sightseeing, take a seat at the Yankee Doodle Tap Room in the Nassau Inn, which has been taking in guests since 1756. You can dine beneath the Yankee Doodle mural painted in 1937 by Norman Rockwell. Another good place to spend the night is the Red Maple Farm, a 1740 colonial farmhouse.

Out of town, there are numerous things to see within easy reach. Duke Gardens, located in Hillsborough on the former Doris Duke Estate, has 11 huge gardens within elaborate greenhouses reflecting the gardening traditions of various countries. Tours are available by appointment May-October. Take a drive along Amwell Road while you're there, and you'll see the Neshanic Reformed Church that was built in 1759 from locally quarried stone. On River Road, you can see the 1903 home that once belonged to Diamond Jim Brady. Another favorite area destination is Grounds for Sculpture, a 22-acre/9-hectare sculpture park in nearby Hamilton. The gently rolling landscape with its beautiful plantings provides a wonderful setting in which to view the facility's contemporary works of art. 40 mi/65 km southwest of Newark.

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