Where Modern America Was Invented
Thomas Edison’s home and laboratory are a step back in time, when machines were run by belts and pulleys and music was played on phonographs. Where to the passerby, the buildings betray little evidence of the industries they once started. Discover where America’s greatest inventor changed our world forever.
Imagine your day ending at sunset. Life without music, motion pictures, radio. Life without light itself. Our modern lives began at the turn of the century in West Orange, New Jersey. The Laboratory and home of Thomas Edison, stopped in time, continue to teach a new generation.
New Jersey has much to offer. The numerous lakes and the rolling hills of the northwest and the seashore of the southeast provide New Jersey with one of its most important economic assets.
Many summer cottages dot the shores of New Jersey's lakes and ponds, while hundreds of hotels and motels line the seacoast. Atlantic City, with its gambling casinos, is a magnet for visitors; but Asbury Park, Ocean Grove, Cape May, Wildwood, and Ocean City are also popular. Asbury Park, Ocean City, and Ocean Grove were originally associated with the summer conferences of the Methodist Church.
New Jersey offers a variety of both freshwater and saltwater fishes. Its streams in the northwest abound in bass, pickerel, catfish, and brook trout. Bluefish, striped bass, and flounder are common in the coastal waters. Many inlets of Delaware Bay are famous for their oysters and clams, but pollution has seriously damaged these shellfish. Migrating shad can be found seasonally in the Hudson and Delaware rivers.
National and State Parks:
The National Park Service maintains two historical parks in New Jersey. Morristown National Historical Park preserves the quarters the Continental Army used during two winters of the American Revolution (1775-1783). The laboratory and home of inventor Thomas A. Edison are preserved at Edison National Historic Site in West Orange, where more than half of Edison's nearly 1100 patented inventions were researched and developed.
Several sections of the New Jersey countryside have been set aside for recreational use. The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area preserves relatively unspoiled land on both the New Jersey and Pennsylvania sides of the middle Delaware River, a section of which has been declared a national scenic river. A craft village and environmental education centers are located in the area.
Gateway National Recreation Area was, along with Golden Gate in San Francisco, the first urban region so dedicated. In addition to marshes and wildlife sanctuaries, the more than 26,000 acres of the area contains recreational and athletic facilities as well as historic structures, old military installations, a lighthouse, and waters of New York Harbor.
Other natural regions with national designations are the Great Egg Harbor Scenic and Recreational River, in the Pine Barrens, and a section of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, which traverses northwestern New Jersey along the Delaware River.
New Jersey's state parks highlight year-round recreational opportunities as well as preserve historic sites. High Point State Park is one of the state's largest parks and offers a variety of activities throughout the year, including ice skating, ice fishing, hiking, and swimming. Liberty State Park, with a spectacular view of the Statue of Liberty, hosts a variety of celebrations each year. Tours cross the harbor to Liberty Island and the nearby Immigration Museum on Ellis Island. Washington Crossing State Park in Titusville features picnicking, hiking, and horseback riding near the George Washington Memorial Arboretum, the Revolutionary War Museum, and an open-air theater.
Every region of the state is steeped with historic locations. A walking tour of the historic district of the village of Hope includes a gristmill, church, and cemetery in this city founded by the Moravian Church. An authentic Dutch colonial farmstead has been preserved as a living museum at the Garrestson Forge and Farm Restoration in Fair Lawn.
The Great Falls National Historic Site, in Paterson, gives a glimpse at the nation's first industrial city, which was planned by Alexander Hamilton and made famous by poet William Carlos Williams. Some 56 historic homes are located in Lawrenceville, including the boyhood home of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., a leader in the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991).
Near Trenton is an impressive inventory of historic and cultural sites, including the William Trent House, built in 1719 by the planner of Trenton; and the Kuser Farm Mansion, built in 1892 as a summer residence. Visitors to Freehold can walk in the footsteps of Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Battlefield. Molly, whose real name was Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley, won fame on a sweltering June day in 1778 for assisting artillerymen in battle at Monmouth by bringing them drinking water in a pitcher. Veterans of the War of 1812 and the Civil War (1861-1865) are buried at the historic Finn's Point National Cemetery in Salem County. The site of the 1937 crash of the zeppelin Hindenburg is marked with a monument at the Naval Air Engineering Station at Lakehurst (see Airship).
Other Places to Visit:
New Jersey's rich history and landscapes afford a number of unique destinations. The Great American Wonder and Railroad Museum in Flemington is the world's largest model railroad exhibition. The display includes a doll museum, pipe organ, and theater. This region, known as the Skylands, is also home to some of New Jersey's wineries. Other wineries are located in Hammonton, Absecon, and Egg Harbor. In Camden the Walt Whitman House and Cultural Museum houses an extensive collection of manuscripts and memorabilia from the great poet. Also in Camden is the Campbell Museum, an extensive collection of soup tureens and eating vessels from European households of the 18th and 19th century. Camden's waterfront also is home to the New Jersey State Aquarium and an outdoor amphitheater for the performing arts.
New Jersey's seaside resorts are popular attractions; leading resorts include Atlantic City, Asbury Park, Ocean City, Wildwood, and Cape May. The boardwalk in Atlantic City lives up to its reputation with amusement piers, casinos, nightclubs, and restaurants. There are also dozens of beaches for sunbathers and swimmers. Lucy the Elephant, built in the late 1800s, stands on Margate Beach, one of the boardwalk beaches. Lucy's more than 80 metric ton bulk is a National Historic Landmark.
Both units of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge north of Atlantic City are paradises for bird-watchers. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine is dedicated to the rescue of stranded seals, dolphins, porpoises, sea turtles, and birds. Visitors can view the New Jersey wetlands on a walk near Cape May Point Lighthouse. Also on the South Shore, at Sunset Beach, is the remains of the Atlantis, a World War I (1914-1918) vessel made of concrete.