Trenton. Say the word to any New Jerseyian or even a Pennsylvanian and they will shudder. Trenton. It’s a vile word. What little I know and see about Trenton is from the Trenton train station. Dirty. Filthy. Broken. Is that the city or the politicians who inhabit the capital? Both. I know better than to take a train station and extrapolate that data point to represent an entire city. But still.
Trenton’s most historically significant site is the Washington Barracks. I’ve visited Washington Crossing several times. I’ve seen a reenacted of Washington crossing the Delaware. I know he surprised attacked the Hessians on the Jersey side. I’ve never seen where the Hessians were sleeping. Where Washington launched his attack. The Washington Barracks provides more details. The Hessians all came from the Hesse-Kassel region of Germany between Hanover and Frankfurt. They probably weren’t drunk when Washington attacked, they were just a little disorganized. A guided tour of the barracks is included in the price of admission. The most interesting part of the barracks was the medical history that impacted the military events. Washington lived through yellow fever earlier in his life and knew that an outbreak could decimate the Continental Army. He began inoculating his troops using the latest medical technology.
Trenton has several neighborhoods, each with a slight distinction, although you’ll never be mistaken for thinking you left Trenton’s city limits. I went to Trenton Coffee House and Records (now closed) in the Chambersburg section, what I believe is the city’s Italian neighborhood, or at least was at one point in time. There are glimmers of a glorious past—columned banks, fire and police stations that show evidence of civic pride, and public parks. All worn down. It’s like the buildings gave up. A gloomy day may not present Trenton in its best light (literally and figuratively) but it does feel like Trentonian weather.
What I wonder about Trenton, is regardless of your political views, is why Americans collectively all this embarrassment of a city to exist in what we portend to be a great country. I’m not sure how politicians can drive to the capital building each day, pass through this decrepit city, say “let’s go out for lunch today”, “oh wait there’s no where to eat in Trenton”, and allow this to be day after day, year after year. Then again I never ventured beyond the train station for fifteen years.
I wrapped up the Trenton tour with a drive slightly north to Riverhorse Brewing, which was previously located in Lambertville and for reasons that escape me, decided to move to Ewing Township. Riverhorse has been around since 1996—to me, they are microbrewing royalty and instead of having the pomp and circumstance of that royal legacy they relocated to a warehouse in Ewing. I guess check them out. Maybe. Winding roads lead north to Hopewell, a quaint New Jersey village town, famously known as where Charles Lindbergh retreated to avoid the public spotlight—only to have his baby kidnapped. The Brick Farm Market is a cool, buzzing spot.