Posted: October 13, 2019 in New Jersey
Tags: , , , , , ,

It is easy to imagine Somerville as the romanticized epitome of a certain type of early 20th century American small town, the kind featured in Norman Rockwell’s art, novels like Ragtime, and films such as The Music Man and It’s a Wonderful Life. A town filled with tree-lined streets and well-spaced grand houses. In those houses lived Father, Mother, and their four children, along with cranky Grampa or plucky Aunt Sarah or (occasionally) Mother’s rogue brother Charlie. After supper families would greet neighbors and window shop as they strolled down Main Street (yes, Main Street). In the dusk they would stop before the impressive Somerset County Courthouse, a symbol of strength and equitable justice. The wail of a distant train whistle would punctuate the air, a reminder of the wondrous industrial progress which helped sustain their blessed life. It is a pleasing image, this fantasy of Somerville over 100 years ago. Today, life holds no such romantic notions. The mills are closed; manufacturing has moved away. The grand houses remain, but many are rezoned for lawyers, doctors, consultants, and other small businesses. Main Street has transformed into a destination spot for fine cuisine and, not surprisingly, antiquing. Still, other storefronts sit empty as if unsure of their purpose. As you walk Somerville’s streets now, you realize it remains a quintessential modern American small town – one striving to find its niche in a fast changing world.

commercial property
private home

  1. rangewriter says:

    Change is difficult, but inevitable. Hopefully Somerville will find its feet and regenerate into something vibrant and vital. Love your photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dave Ventre says:

    It seems like I went through Somerville many many times growing up in NJ and attending Rutgers, but I can never remember going TO Somerville….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark says:

    I lived in Somerville for about six years in the late ’90s, on Mountain Ave, across from Immaculata. Nice little town. Found out recently that one of my favorite bands, The Gaslight Anthem, in their infancy, played one of their first shows down there on Main Street. They’d go on to play in front of 60,000 people at a festival in London.

    Liked by 1 person

Whatcha got to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s