New Jersey is perhaps not that big a state to title my post “… (part one),” but there are a few reasons behind this arrangement. For one thing, we have not seen all of New Jersey yet, only the west and bits of the coastline. The other reason is that by the time we have visited enough places to count the state done, if I tried to write about it in our travel diaries, I would probably forget most of what had happened during the first trips. So, here is the part one of our story, and, given that the beaches of the Southern Jersey constitute most of what is left out, probably the more meaningful part.
It is just hard to believe that some little wretched place across the river from Philadelphia can be home to one of the most important archaeological discoveries—the remains of a dinosaur cryptically named Hadrosaurus foulkii. Why exactly the discovery is important has been well documented in various news articles and scientific publications, but to me it is still an amazing fact that there once were strange creatures (as there undoubtedly had to be more than one) inhabiting the land an hour away from us.
As for the site, it was a bit of a disappointment, but then what could one expect from the place where everything has been dug up more than a century ago.
Next, we headed up to Princeton, the town that I had wanted to visit ever since I started to appreciate the power of science and architectural aesthetics. Once famous for giants like Alan Turing and Richard Feynman, Princeton is to this day a workplace and alma mater of some of the most influential thinkers in the world. On our way to the campus we made a stop by a former residence of Albert Einstein, another legendary Princeton scholar. We poked about the house and took a picture or two, probably much more to the current owner’s annoyance than our own interest.
On our way to the university we could not help noticing that the mode of life in Princeton had hardly changed over the last couple of hundred years.
In all seriousness, Princeton has probably been better historically preserved, or conserved, than any other town in New Jersey. As one might expect, the main university’s campus—but almost equally all of the neighboring streets—give a strong impression of the past suspended in time.
But to reiterate, Princeton is not merely an academic legacy, but an active research center with a very important role and unique place in modern science. The architectural splendor of the site comes as a bonus.
We amused ourselves with a long round of the campus, letting our little explorer conduct a thorough survey of the territory, and making a note of the flaring idiosyncrasies and subtle details that distinguished that school from all the other notable ones we had been to.
Though I was not too familiar with most of the names that I glanced upon while strolling through the narrow passageways of the cemetery, I can now truthfully say that I have left my two cents in the life (or, rather, afterlife) of John von Neumann, arguably the most brilliant mathematician and physicist there was. And, that is, literally: I left two cents on top of his tombstone.
Out of Princeton we followed U.S. 1 North for a while, passing through New Brunswick on our way to West Orange, which we were heading for to see the Thomas Edison Museum. It is a well-established historic fact that Mr. Edison was not always kind or fair to his collaborators and employees, but he sure was one hell of a businessman who knew how to promote scientific ideas in a most profitable fashion. And as a successful businessman and a gifted tinkerer, he was able to oversee and facilitate a wide range of practical inventions, as evidenced by hundreds of exhibits presented on the three floors of his laboratory.
The clock working against us, we rushed up to Paterson and in a very hasty manner took pictures of the Great Falls on the Passaic River. Well, I did make a few brief passes over the bridge to make sure I get the best angles on camera, but did not have the time or excitement (after all, it was far from the first time I saw a waterfall) to overlook the torrents dashing down the steep for much longer.
Having reached the northernmost point of our trip, we still had to arrange several stops in Morristown on the way back, so time was quickly becoming a concern for us. Yet it proved no concern to the keepers of Speedwell Ironworks (the first of the remaining spots), as they had closed the place before our arrival, at least fifteen minutes short of the actual business hours. Speedwell Ironworks is mainly known as the birthplace of telegraph. With most buildings locked down, we could see very little beyond humble displays of farm tools and simple wood- and metal-working equipment. I found exteriors to be more attractive photographically.
In one of the center locations of Morristown there is a monument to the city’s namesake, Morris Frank, and Buddy, his four-legged companion. Frank, a blind man himself, was responsible for the launch of the first seeing eye dog school, whereas his dog Buddy is said to have been the first such dog in America.
Unfortunately, we could not loaf about too long, despite a very neat and inviting neighborhood.
To conclude my post, I want to share a small photo collection of New Jersey homes that happened to come in the path of the camera’s viewfinder. In all fairness (that is, all haunts of vice and soulless holes aside), you cannot blame streets of New Jersey of being too dull or stereotyped. As far as houses go, it is easy to see the great diversity of styles, geometries, and sizes all throughout the state. OK, throughout the part of the state that we have traveled to.
Oh, and one last thing. We noticed that power poles along many highway in New Jersey have solar panels attached to them. Efficient or not, we have not seen such wide adoption or the solar panel technology in any other state until now.