History of Trenton
The area of present-day Trenton was originally inhabited by a branch of the Delaware Native American tribe, called Sanhican. After several expeditions to the area, the first permanent settlers arrived to the area in 1679. They were English Quakers guided by Mahlon Stacy, who were persecuted in England and decided to move to a new land where they would exercise their religious freedom. In 1714, the land was sold to a Philadelphia merchant by the name of William Trent, who saw that the area, with the Delaware River, had a lot of industrial potential. He built a grist mill near the falls on the river and called the settlement “Trent’s Town” (the name that was very soon shortened to Trenton). The settlement was located on the confluence of the Delaware and the Assunpink Creek and soon after it was established it began to grow quickly. Located between Philadelphia and New York City, Trenton became an important port and a stopping point for stagecoaches between two big cities.
When the American Revolutionary War started, Trenton was a fairly important town with some hundred homes. It was captured by the British in November of 1776 and some portions of it were completely destroyed. However, in what is often considered to be one of the pivotal moments of the war, General George Washington crossed the iced Delaware River on Christmas night and led his troops to Trenton, where they struck at dawn, causing severe casualties to the British. The Second Battle of Trenton ensued and these events not only resulted in the first major American victory in the war but also instilled new courage and inspiration that helped decide the entire war.
Trenton became the state capital in 1790 and even served as a temporary nation’s capital after Washington was struck by a yellow fever epidemic. Transportation continued to boost the city, especially after the construction of a bridge across Delaware in 1806 and the completion of Delaware and Raritan Canal.
During the Civil War, Trenton contributed rubber and iron to the Union Army and for a while housed the U.S. Congress.
In the early 20th century, the city experienced a population boost due to an influx of European immigrants from various countries.
After the World War II, most of the middle class in the city moved to the suburbs and Trenton remained known as a smokestack town. Today, Trenton is a developing industrial center and also a tourist attraction, not only because of its history but also because of its highly regarded restaurants.
Geography and Climate
The city is located in central-west New Jersey, on the eastern bank of the Delaware River. It has an area of 8.155 square miles, of which 0.507 is water. It is located across the river from Morrisville, Pennsylvania, to which it is connected through several bridges. Trenton has a humid continental climate, sometimes with maritime influences from the Atlantic Ocean. The Appalachian Mountains guard the city from severe storm activity. It has all four distinct seasons of the approximately same length. The heaviest snowstorm was the Blizzard of 1996.
Population of Trenton
In 2010, the racial makeup in Trenton was 52.01% Black or African American, 26.56% White, 33.71% Hispanic or Latino, 1.19% Asian, 0.70% Native American, 0.13% Pacific Islander, 15.31 some other race and 4.10 two or more races.
In 2000, the median household income was $31,074 and the per capita income $14,621.
Trenton was named the fourth most dangerous city in 2005 and fourteenth most dangerous in 2006 in a survey conducted by Morgan Quitno.
In the early 20th century, Trenton relied heavily on manufacturing. In fact, a slogan from the era still stands on the Lower Trenton Bridge, saying “Trenton Makes, The World Takes.” Today, the government is the largest economy sector in the city. Trade and services are also significant contributors. Because of low taxes and costs compared to those in other major cities in the region, and also because of the relatively short commute to New York, Philadelphia and other cities, Trenton today benefits from the spill-over of research centers and high-tech industries along the Northeast Corridor.
Culture and Institutions
Notable cultural institutions in Trenton include the New Jersey State Cultural Center which contains the State Archives, the State Museum, a planetarium and an auditorium; the Greater Trenton Symphonic Orchestra, Boheme Opera Company, Artworks Art Center of Trenton, Mill Hill Playhouse, Library Gallery, the Trenton City Museum, Ellarslie Mansion, Contemporary Club Victorian Museum and others. Other points of interest include Cadwalader Park, Friends Burying Ground, Trenton Battle Monument and William Trent House.
Trenton has two institutions of higher education: Thomas Edison State College and James Kearney campus of the Mercer County Community College. Other institutions in the nearby towns include the College of New Jersey in Ewing Township and Rider University in Lawrence Township.
Trenton does not have a major professional sports team. Because of its geographic and cultural proximity to New York and Philadelphia, locals are sharply divided in loyalty between two cities (for example, Flyers vs. Rangers, Eagles vs. Giants, etc.). Until 1979, when it was moved to Hamilton, Trenton Speedway hosted world class racing events.
Major highways in the city include Trenton Freeway (part of the U.S. Route 1), Route 129 and NJ Route 29, which connect the city to I-195 and then to I-295 and the New Jersey Turnpike, and also U.S. Route 206, Route 31 and Route 33.
Trains on the Northeast Corridor include Trenton Line to Philadelphia and Northeast Corridor Line to New York City, and also the River Line and Amtrak trains. Public transportation within the city is operated by New Jersey transit.
Trenton-Mercer Airport offers limited commercial services and the closest airports with full domestic and international services are Newark Liberty International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport.