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Once Upon a Time in New Brunswick

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Founded in the 1680s at a traditional crossing of the Raritan River, first by an Indian trail and later by one of New Jersey’s earliest roads, the New Brunswick had become a major port by the second decade of the eighteenth century. Its location within easy reach of the hinterland that produced New Jersey’s major agricultural exports put it at an advantage over the colony’s legal entry ports of Perth Amboy and Burlington. New Brunswick thrived on trade; its wharves and ship facilities included substantial warehouses stretching along the docks. Cranes could often be seen hoisting produce on and off boats docked in the Raritan River.
 
Dutch settlers streamed into the Raritan Valley in the 1730s. They settled along Albany Street in New Brunswick giving the early city a Dutch character that could be seen in its architecture. A veranda, resembling a small balcony, was built on to most homes, elevated from the street by steps. These porches had benches on both sides on which the people sat in the evening to enjoy the fresh air and watch the passers-by. Remnants of the Dutch architecture are long gone from the streetscape of New Brunswick.
 
However, the impending redesign of the Interchange at Route 18 and Route 27, necessitated an excavation of the area. This afforded archaeologists and historians the opportunity to look beneath the ground in the very area where the city began and where the Dutch had settled. As is often the case in urban areas, more evidence of the past was left than would seem possible, especially since the site lay within a highway interchange that had been built in the 1970s.
 
The dig site was in the vicinity of Albany and Water Streets. The findings were remarkable and included artifacts from THE INDIAN QUEEN/BELL TAVERN, the VAN DYKE property, the “DUTCH” HOUSE, the PARKER HOUSE and six more lots or parcels on Water Street.

A report on the findings of this archaeological dig, conducted in 2004, at Albany and Water Streets in New Brunswick is available by clicking here.
 


 

 

 

Office of Cultural and Heritage
East Jersey Old Town Village
1050 River Road
Piscataway, NJ 08854 
Phone Number: (732) 745-3030
Fax: (732) 745-4524
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