Weekend visitors to Princeton (and even long-time residents!) will want to grab a copy of a new guide, ‘Discovering Princeton’, which has just been published. The book, by local authors Wiebke Martens and Jennifer Jang, presents a wealth of beautiful photos and history, capturing many of the best places in town, and putting home in context. Best of all, the book is arranged with five self-guided ‘walking tours’, designed to allow the reader to explore the sites on foot!
The ‘Walking Tours’ are as follows:
- Historic University
- Downtown Princeton
- West Around Mercer Hill
- The University in the Twenty-First Century
- From Seminary to Institute
Between them, these walks offer a great mix of places and things to see, from the almost-urban atmosphere at the heart of Princeton to the more open and park-like experience of the Institute lands. The photographs are absolutely beautiful – this volume would be very much at home on a coffee table – and the description of what there is to see at each ‘stop’ is just enough to get maximum value without being too long. In addition to the ‘classics’ (Nassau Hall, Lower Pyne), the book includes more recent additions, such as the Princeton Public Library, the new rail station, and a tour of modernist and post-modern architecture on the Princeton University campus. Each walk can be done in a couple of hours, so it’s a very manageable way to explore the town. The book also includes recommendations on parks, cultural and scientific sites of interest in the Princeton area.
What is missing? ‘Discovering Princeton’ covers a lot in ~150 pages, but if I was going to add some walking tours, they would probably focus on the East Nassau Street neighborhood (including the ‘Tree Streets’ and Broadmead area) and Princeton’s historically African-American Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. Both of these areas contain close-packed, older homes of different styles that deserve to be admired. Hiking trails are also not a focus of this book, instead the focus is very much on the built environment.
This book is likely to be appreciated by anybody who is visiting Princeton or wants to refresh their memories of the town after a long time away. Students at Princeton University may want to check it out, to get some ideas for places to explore when campus gets too confining! For a small-ish town, Princeton has a lot of places that are worth exploring, and ‘Discovering Princeton’ is a great way to do that, especially if, like me, you like to do your exploring by walking!
‘Discovering Princeton’ is priced $24.99 and available at Labyrinth Books, the U-Store, Landau, Princeton University Art Museum Store, and quality book-sellers everywhere.