"Princeton ~ New Jersey" Top 5 Page for this destination Princeton by starship
Princeton Travel Guide: 125 reviews and 261 photos
For over 25 years I have lived within an hour's drive of Princeton, New Jersey, but had never visited there before now. Had I known what I was missing, I would have visited Princeton long ago. On a pleasant Saturday, just before a devastating Nor'easter hit New Jersey (April, 2007), hubby & I took our time driving to Princeton and arrived in late morning. Finding parking was simple; but having a large supply of quarters available to feed the parking meter took a little work.
Our first stop was a little coffee shop which university students seem to like and I did too! Spending about 30 minutes here was enough time for me to get that "academic buzz" that I love. I find myself drawn to places steeped in academics & academic tradition. Within a very few minutes, I actually found myself wanting to be immersed in some sort of study or art project and to be a serious student again. I haven't been a serious "student" since I graduated from college over 30 years ago now, so that would be quite a stretch!! But that is the effect that Princeton had on me. To me, Princeton is the more Northerly counterpart of Williamsburg, Virginia: both are historic towns with tons of charm and personality and both have top-notch universities--Williamsburg has the College of William & Mary and Princeton has Princeton University. While Princeton can claim more academic prestige, William & Mary can claim to be the second oldest university in the country. Another connection--Princeton was named in honor of Prince William of Orange and the "William" in William & Mary was the same honoree.
I had the preconceived notion that Princeton University WAS Princeton, New Jersey, and to a large extent, it is; but Princeton also has quite a history and many people of note have lived, worked, studied and fought here. For example:
The Battle of Princeton of the Revolutionary War took place here;
Drumthwacket, the Official Residence of the Governor of New Jersey is here;
Albert Einstein did research at the Institute for Advanced Study and lived here from 1936 until his death in 1955;
Queen Noor of Jordan, the former Lisa Najeeb Halaby, studied at Princeton and graduated in 1974 with a degree in Architecture and Urban Planning;
The great African-American scholar, athlete and actor Paul Robeson grew up in Princeton and his father, William Drew Robeson, a self-made man, was a Pastor of the Witherspoon Presbyterian Church in Princeton;
Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Grover Cleveland at one time called Princeton home.
Princeton is set in a bucolic portion of New Jersey with rolling hills and woods. The town itself is filled with well-preserved 18th & 19th century historic buildings, along with museums, monuments, shops, restaurants, coffee houses, and an atmostphere so charming that I could see myself wanting to spend much more time there.
One great advantage of visiting or living in a university town is that it usually offers a plethora of activities, events, musical and theater performances, guest speakers and more which commonly are open to the public gratis or for a nominal fee.
While in some quarters Princeton students might be considered a little snobby (they have the right to be), I thought the students I encountered were helpful and friendly. While I've seen other comments on VT (particularly one) complaining about Princeton students being "rich brats", I did not get that impression from the students I saw. (Not so with a Princeton postal employee---he was horribly rude and offensive, but what's new!?!!! ) Students are accepted to Princeton because they are exceptional, and if they happen to come from wealthy families, then they have been doubly blessed. They should be given respect just like anyone else.
Originally named "Prince-Town" in honor of Prince William of Orange, Princeton earned its place in history for several reasons. The Revolutionary Battle of Princeton in January, 1777, was a major victory for General George Washington and his troops following very closely on the heels of his victory over the Hessians in Trenton in December, 1776. With this victory in Princeton, Washington had driven most of the British troops out of New Jersey and the prospect for total victory during the war was greatly improved.
In the Summer of 1783, the Continental Congress met in Princeton's Nassau Hall and the town actually became the country's capital for approximately four months. Princeton can also boast of being the home of two signers of the "Declaration of Independence": Richard Stockton and John Witherspoon.
The university, originally named "The College of New Jersey" and chartered in 1746, was located in several other spots before being moved to Princeton in 1756; however the university's name was not officially changed to "Princeton" until 1896. Ironically, currently a college formerly named "Trenton State College" now carries the title of "The College of New Jersey", also known locally as TCNJ.
- Pros:Historic, quaint & charming, lively, a great university!
- Cons:Expensive to live & study here!
- In a nutshell:Worth exploring!
We didn't eat at the Yankee Doodle Tap Room while visiting, but the name of the place really piqued my interest so I had... more travel advice
The Princeton Cemetery, established by the Nassau Presbyterian Church in 1757, has been called the "Westminster Abbey... more travel advice
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