Bordentown was settled on a small bluff above the banks of the Delaware River well over 300 years ago. History, charm, and brick are the obvious reference points. From its colonial row houses to many churches to repurposed buildings to uneven walkways to random alleys, this old city has obviously long been a thriving center of American life. In the mid-19th century, along with surrounding farmlands and fields, it was swept under the umbrella of New Jersey’s odd municipal township structure. It didn’t take. Within 25 years the city, already rich in tradition, broke free. (Therefore, in true Jersey fashion you must travel through Bordentown Township to reach Bordentown city which, of course, is not part of Bordentown Township.) Nowadays, Bordentown perseveres as it negotiates the wobbly line between preservation and modernization. Restaurants occupy grand old banks and curio shops peddle trinkets where printers once thrived. But make no mistake; the city’s past is both physically and spiritually tangible. This is where Clara Barton established the state’s first free public school in 1852 and saw enrollment grow from 6 to 600 students within a year. This is where Thomas Paine lived and wrote, “I’d rather see my horse Buttons eating the grass of Bordentown then all the pomp and show of Europe.” This is where the Hopkinson family, father a signer of the Declaration of Independence and son the composer of the country’s first national anthem, called home. And this is where Joseph Bonaparte, older brother of Napoleon, chose to remain rather than accept an offer to assume the throne of Mexico. Today, young families walk those same streets and will undoubtedly add their own unique American imprint on this community where the spirits of the past never leave.