Posts Tagged ‘NJ’

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 Grampa or Aunt Sarah or (occasionally) Mother’s rogue brother Charlie. After supper families would window shop and greet neighbors as they strolled down Main Street (yes, it is named 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



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 (more…)

long walk home

Posted: August 24, 2016 in Arts, New Jersey
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welcome home

Home is where you feel at home and are treated well. – Dalai Lama

Bruce Springsteen came home to New Jersey last night. Again. And 55,000 people who he has never met welcomed him. Again.

These days whenever Springsteen and his mighty E Street Band bring their ageless touring carnival to the great Garden State we embrace them with a fervor that is part love, part pride, part ritual, and all possessiveness. Across all the decades, albums, tours and concerts, and after all the triumphs, tragedies and changes, we still flock to the altar because (more…)


Hightstown is not a “destination” place. There are no cool clubs, organic hot spots, or large green spaces to draw the young and hip. There are no theaters, high end retailers, or Michelin rated restaurants to lure the comfortably wealthy. There are no (more…)


The Village of East Millstone was settled in 1730 and quietly existed as a rural, farming community for a century. When the Delaware and Raritan Canal was completed in 1834, it immediately defined the village’s western border and, for a time, brought modest industry. A minor branch of a (more…)

flag bunting in front of the old Hopewell Academy (est 1756)

flag bunting in front of the old Hopewell Academy (est 1756)

Hopewell exists in our consciousness somewhere between dreams and fantasies. An impossibly gorgeous spring morning is bright, cool, and verdant. The scent of blooming honeysuckle and the purposeful hum of lawn mowers are inescapable. A slight breeze slips through the trees, gently rustling leaves and encouraging (more…)

Pillar of Fire

Pillar of Fire

An exit on the nearby interstate announces Zarephath as its main attraction, but that is a tease. The community, unincorporated and insular, is astonishingly easy to miss. The bulk sits off a main road on a strip of land tucked between the Millstone River and the D&R Canal. According to the 2010 census it is home to (more…)


Frenchtown hugs the Delaware River about 23 miles north of where George Washington crossed on that bitter Christmas night, 12 miles west of the courthouse where the Lindbergh baby kidnapping trial was held, and a million miles away from the American pastime of tearing down a fascinating past to replace it with a graceless present. A faint musty bouquet kicks up every now and then, no doubt thanks to (more…)


Posted: January 20, 2014 in New Jersey, Photography
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A National Historic District, in case you were wondering

A National Historic District, in case you were wondering

Walking around Cranbury you are struck by the disproportionate number of white buildings, many sporting black trim. It is easy to conceive how someone coming down Main Street for the first time might think the white homes and businesses were required by the village charter. Or maybe it was part of the agreement which landed Cranbury’s small downtown area on the National (more…)

Typical single family home

Typical single family home

Rocky Hill is a small borough in central New Jersey, part of the larger Montgomery Township. It is primarily residential. A few scattered businesses, a couple of eateries, a church, post office and fire house also call it home. There is really not much cause to make Rocky Hill your destination, save the restaurants. This is a small shame since the town, though modest, is quite (more…)