Princeton has always played a significant role in the history of both New Jersey and the United States. Settled in the late 17th century, it was named Prince-Town in honor of Prince William of Orange and Nassau. In 1756 it became the home of the College of New Jersey – now Princeton University – with the entire college housed in Nassau Hall, the largest academic building in the colonies.
The Battle of Princeton, fought in a nearby field in January of 1777, proved to be a decisive victory for General George Washington and his troops. Two of Princeton’s leading citizens signed the Declaration of Independence, and during the summer of 1783, the Continental Congress met in Nassau hall making Princeton the country’s capital for four months.
Located midway between New York and Philadelphia, the town was the overnight stagecoach stop on the Trenton-New Brunswick line until the mid-19th century. In the 1830s the building of a nearby canal and railroad encouraged further commerce, real estate development, and general prosperity.
A center for learning and culture throughout its history, Princeton has been home to world-renowned scholars, scientists, writers and statesmen, including two United States presidents: Woodrow Wilson and Grover Cleveland. Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Thomas Mann, and T.S. Eliot all called Princeton home.
Shaped by residents of all backgrounds, Princeton remains a dynamic community, growing and changing with the times yet retaining an essential small-town quality. Paul Robeson grew up in Princeton and artisans from Italy, Scotland, and Ireland have contributed to the town’s rich architectural history. This legacy, spanning the entire history of American architecture, is well-preserved through buildings by nationally renowned architects such as Benjamin Latrobe, Ralph Adams Cram, McKim, Mead & White, John Notman, Robert Venturi and Michael Graves.
There are no “blighted areas” in Princeton. Because so large a proportion of its population is engaged in teaching, education, and research activities, all of which carry with them exceptional employment security in times of unfavorable economic conditions, the community possesses special characteristics of stability and well-being.
While no major travel arteries directly touch Princeton, there is ready access to U.S. Route 1, the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, and Amtrak and New Jersey Transit, which provide direct rail and bus service to New York and Philadelphia as well as the rest of the northeast corridor. Known as the Route 1 corridor, this area is the fastest growing part of the state.
Recreational opportunities are numerous. The Borough and Township of Princeton jointly provide community facilities including a large pool complex, tennis and paddle tennis courts, athletic playing fields and various parks and playgrounds. Numerous programs and activities are provided through the recreation office. In addition, Princeton University permits use of many recreational fields and tennis courts, their gymnasium, Olympic size pool, and Carnegie Lake by the community at minimal expense.
With its natural and developed advantages protected by sound laws and with an intelligent citizenry dedicated to the preservation of its present community character, Princeton will continue to grow as one of the most attractive and prosperous suburban communities in the United States.
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