Mercer County Tercentenary, 1664-1964

Mercer County Tercentenary 1664-1964

In 1964, Mercer County celebrated the “300th Anniversary of New Jersey” with a wonderful commemorative book, Mercer County Tercentenary 1664-1964, which provides a broad snapshot of the time, with extensive discussions of the history, current status, and path forward for the county – from a rather optimistic and positive perspective.

This book is in the Princeton Library catalog, but does not appear to be generally available. Thanks to the kindness and foresight of Dick Sudlow in saving a copy, it has now been digitized and is available on the History Project site.

The book was the major project of the Mercer County Tercentenary Commission, and was intended to be an “enduring milestone to mark the 300th Anniversary of New Jersey and its component parts, especially Mercer County.”

== View Mercer County Tercentenary 1664-1964 (PDF) ==

The book is 175 pages, illustrated with many photos, and also includes full-page aerial images of each municipality (see earlier post to explore the 1964 aerials as panoramas). Also see the full contents below.

Transportation

The first section discusses Mercer County Today, along with some historical background of the development of different aspects of the county.

For example, the Transportation section covers the development of roads, canals, railroads, trolleys, and the Delaware River, leading to the growth of highways and the New Jersey Turnpike (the total mileage roads in Mercer County was 1,025), and concluding with air transportation.

Hopewell Twp

The next section provides overviews of Mercer County’s Townships and Municipalities, including their history, land, industry, transportation, organization, and services. These are certainly optimistic, describing great places to live and for future growth:

An over-all view of the Borough of Hightstown reveals a busy and proud community with a promising future. Its merchants are prosperous, its industry equally so, and its citizens are solidly behind their elected officials. It follows, then, that the future of Hightstown is bright as it moves toward the final quarter of the 20th Century.

Log Rafts

The third section then focuses on Historical People, Places, and Events, with coverage of the American Indians and early settlers through the American Revolution, historic landmarks and people, plus other topics including a fun discussion of Rafting on the River in the 1800s, as logs were rafted down the Delaware to serve the heavy demand for lumber:

Just above Washington Crossing, the peaceful hamlet of Titusville was once a famous rafting stop. The focal point for all raftsmen was the old Riverview House which was operated by one C. H. Swift, a veteran of the Civil War. As soon as the winter ice began to break up and jostle its way down river, everybody knew that before long the rafts would be there, tying up at the piers. … In 1875, a total of more than three thousand log rafts were recorded as passing through Titusville.

The next section contains some additional historical stories, and a thoughtful discussion of the modern-day need for recreation areas, leading to the funding of the Green Acres program:

Not so long ago, recreation was something that just happened when a person was idle and it occurred to him, alone or with friends, to go berrying or fishing or looking for rocks or, in the proper season, hunting. They went not because they needed food or rocks, but because fishing or hunting, or maybe pitching horseshoes, was a pleasant thing to do. So was just lying on your back in a field watching the clouds.

The final section, Mercer County Tomorrow, has an extensive discussion of need for planning for future growth, including water, building codes, education, recreation, open space, and cultural events. And it addresses issues including population growth, home construction, economic growth, community facilities, and educational and cultural factors, noting the chilling consequences of the then-pending threat to run I-295 through our Township:

Many residents of the wide sweep of the Hopewell Valley realize, they say, that when Interstate Highway 295 is built, no matter whether it goes east or west of the Reading Railroad line, the whole section will be opened up to large-flow traffic. This highway, connecting Maine and Florida, will simply scoop up Titusville, Woodsville, the Borough of Hopewell, Blawenburg, and the whole center of the Hopewell Valley in its path which, including its approaches, will be much more than a mile wide.

Revolution

Mercer County Tercentenary provides an extensive look at Mercer County of the 1960s. The Tercentenary Commission and the resulting coverage are clearly from a governmental perspective, with plenty of views of Trenton in particular. But the effort made to capture and share this information is still greatly appreciated, over a half century later.


PS

  • Yes, to our ears, “Tercentenary” seems a rather unfamiliar way to refer to a 300th anniversary of an event, versus “tricentennial.”
  • And, yes, using 1664 as the founding date of New Jersey is a bit slippery, at least in terms of our current government. (There was no state of New Jersey at the time, much less a Mercer County.) However, 1664 is the year that the Dutch colony of New Netherland was brought under English rule, and when the area between the Hudson and Delaware Rivers was chartered from James, Duke of York, and named “Nova Caesaria,” or “New Jersey.”

Contents

Mercer County Today

  • Geology and Resources, Education, Libraries, New Jersey State Cultural Center, Museums, Business and Banking, Industry, Newspapers, Transportation, Public Utilities, Research, Labor, Medicine and Hospitals, Religion, Welfare, Housing, Urban Renewal, Taxes, Fire Protection, Police Protection and Penal Institutions, State Buildings

Townships and Municipalities

  • East Windsor, Ewing, Hamilton, Hightstown, Hopewell Borough, Hopewell Township, Lawrence, Pennington, Princeton Borough, Princeton Township, Trenton, Washington, West Windsor

Historical People, Places, and Events

  • Indians, Early Settlers, Mercer County in the Revolution, Historic Landmarks, Famous People, Birth of Masonic Order in America, The First Successful Steamboat, Rafting on the River

Historical Stories

  • Trenton The Nation’s Capital Almost, New Jersey State Fair, Saga of the River Boats, The Mercer Automobile, Martian “Invasion”, Recreation

Mercer County Tomorrow

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