Most Americans recognize Emanuel Leutze’s iconic painting of General Washington crossing the Delaware River. What many do not remember is that his destination was Trenton, New Jersey, the site of his first victory during the Revolutionary War. The Trenton Battle Monument, which marks the location of that crucial triumph, is a great spot to begin sightseeing in Trenton.
The barracks where Hessian troops awoke to a surprise attack lie just a few blocks south of the Trenton Battle Monument. The American colony of New Jersey built the barracks in 1758 during the French and Indian War, but the British and Hessians moved in almost two decades later in their attempt to overthrow the Revolution. The Old Barracks Museum, one of Trenton’s many historic sites, preserves the only structure of its kind still standing. Staff members dress in period costumes to re-enact colonial life. The museum even “musters” a drum and fife corps from area middle school and high school students.
Another of Trenton’s historic sites well worth a visit is the New Jersey State House. A long history of additions, renovations and even a fire contributed to intermingling architectural styles. The result is not just an eclectic historic treasure, but something of a mystery. While installing a smoke detector, a worker recently discovered the remnants of a painted ceiling. For the time being, the fragmented ceiling still hangs, and tourists can visit the “Painted Ceiling Room.” Tours generally begin in the Rotunda, where stained glass windows flank portraits of past New Jersey governors.
Any sightseeing tour of Trenton should include a stop at the William Trent house. William Trent incorporated the city named for him in 1720, a year after he built his country estate. A probate inventory of Trent’s belongings guides curators today as they work to furnish the house as it would have appeared in his lifetime.
Visiting Trenton can mean a stroll through art history as well as colonial history. One star of the Trenton entertainment scene is the Boheme Opera NJ, which attracts talent from as far away as San Francisco. By performing classic operas such as Faust and The Magic Flute, the Boheme lives up to its mission of endowing the community with “accessible, affordable and artistically professional opera performances.”
When it comes to memorable evenings, no venue can match the grandeur of the Patriot Theater at the War Memorial. For decades, its Italian Renaissance Revival styling has enhanced the experience for audiences as they reveled in dance performances, stand-up comedy and concerts. A who’s who of performers includes Louis Armstrong, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Bob Hope and the Kirov Ballet.
Densely populated New Jersey is not the place tourists would expect to discover deer, but Trenton’s 100-acre Cadwalader Park is an exception! Locals and tourists alike visit this idyllic retreat to rejuvenate. The park dates back to 1887, when Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York’s Central Park, began work. Visitors will find the Trenton City Museum at the heart of the pastoral expanse.