5 Tours in Princeton
This walking tour will guide you around some of the most interesting locations in downtown Princeton. The tour starts on Princeton University’s campus at the Maclean House and Nassau Hall (the original University building and the University’s President’s home). The tour will then take you to the Princeton University Art Museum, Prospect House and Gardens, the Princeton University Chapel, the Bainbridge House, the Princeton Cemetery, Paul Robeson’s birthplace and will finish at the Nassau Inn and Tiger monument.
Parking: there is metered street parking and 3 parking garages in downtown Princeton. Our recommendation is to park at the Spring Street Garage (28 Spring St).
If traveled directly from point to point the walk should take a little over 30 minutes over 1 1/2 miles.
A more detailed description of these sites can be found here: Walking Tour of Princeton sites
This driving tour will take you around some of most interesting locations in the Princeton area. The tour starts at the Battle Monument of Princeton (statue of George Washington) and includes such sites as Morven Museum and Garden, Drumthwacket (the NJ Governor’s mansion), the Stony Brook Bridge, Updike Farm & Princeton Historical Society, Stony Brook Meeting House and Cemetery, Princeton Battlefield Park, Thomas Clarke house, Mercer Oak, Colonnade, Albert Einstein house, the Barracks, Woodrow Wilson’s homes, and Grover Cleveland’s house.
If traveled directly from point to point the drive should take a little over 30 minutes over 5 1/4 miles.
A more detailed description of these sites can be found here: Driving Tour of Princeton sites
This tour has a mix of driving and walking that will take you around the greater Princeton area to many of the most important locations that have to do with the Revolutionary War period.
The tour starts at Nassau Hall (the original University building and the location where the last British Soldiers surrendered at the Battle of Princeton) which is on the Princeton University campus. We will then be visiting, in order, the Bainbridge House, the Princeton Cemetery, the Princeton Battle Monument, Princeton Battlefield Park, the Updike Farmstead & Princeton Historical Society (on Washington’s route to Princeton) and we finish at the Rockingham Farmstead (Washington’s last wartime headquarters).
It is best to start the tour by parking downtown and visiting Nassau Hal, the Bainbridge House and the Cemetery by foot. The rest can be visited by car. If traveling from point to point the walk should take 15 minutes over a bit more than a ½ mile path and the drive should take 20 minutes over a 9 mile path.
A more detailed description of these sites can be found here: Revolutionary War sites
1776 started with a success for General George Washington and the Continental Army when the British In Boston were forced to evacuate after Washington’s troops were able to gain a strategic high point allowing them to train their canons on downtown Boston where the British soldiers were located. However, in August, British General William Howe landed his troops on Long Island and started pushing the Continental Army out of New York. After a series of defeats and retreats, Washington’s army moved from Long Island to Brooklyn across to Manhattan, up the island of Manhattan and in Mid-November finally retreated across the Hudson River into New Jersey. Howe had a group of troops lead by Lord Charles Cornwallis chase Washington across New Jersey until the Continental Army crossed the Delaware River into Pennsylvania and Washington had his troops remove all boats from the New Jersey side to block the British from crossing.
The British stayed in New Brunswick with a smaller group in Princeton and left a force of Hessians in Trenton (at this time a small town of 100 houses) under the command of Colonel Rall and Colonel Von Donop.
Washington rested his troops in Pennsylvania near McConkey's Ferry (present day Washington Crossing) and was able to get some fresh troops and supplies to partially replenish what he had lost during his retreat from New York. Washington was concerned that his troops and the Colonists in general were demoralized from so many losses and that many of his soldiers had contracts that were about to expire at the end of the year which might mean that he could lose a significant portion of his army in a matter of days. Washington was determined to make a bold strike to try to change the tide of the war.
After discussion with his leadership team, Washington finally settled on a three prong attack of Trenton that could be followed with subsequent movements on Princeton and even New Brunswick. To gain an advantage the attack on the Hessian Troops in Trenton was decided to take place at dawn on December 26th with the belief that the German soldiers would have been celebrating Christmas on the 25th and would not be prepared for battle.
This tour is almost 11 miles long and the point to point driving part of it should take about 30 minutes.
A more detailed description of these sites can be found here: 1st Battle of Trenton sites
This tour starts after the 1st Battle of Trenton when Washington and his soldiers crossed an icy treacherous Delaware River on the night of December 25th to surprise, attack and defeat the Hessian soldiers in Trenton on December 26 1777. After Washington’s success he had his men cross back over the Delaware to protect his soldiers against a British response.
Washington decided to take the offensive and on December 30th the Continental Army crossed back over the Delaware into Trenton and setup a defensive position south of the Assunpink River to await a column of British Soldiers lead by Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis who were marching down from New Brunswick. After being delayed by a series of skirmishes lead by Colonel Edward Hand, Cornwallis arrived late in the evening on January 2nd and decided to wait until daylight to confront Washington. In the meantime Washington had his men evacuate their position during the night and marched on to Princeton to confront a smaller group of British Soldiers left there.
On the morning of January 3rd, a small advanced group of the Continental Army led by Brigadier General Hugh Mercer met British Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mawhood in William Clark’s fields and orchards (what is now the Princeton Battlefield). The British had the upper-hand until Washington appeared with the rest of his soldiers and attacked and forced the British to retreat. After a final stand at Nassau Hall, the British soldiers surrendered and Washington won the Battle of Princeton.
Washington knew that Cornwallis and his large army of British regulars were not far behind, so the Continental Army marched that same day on to their winter headquarters in Morristown NJ. This tour has an additional leg that follows Washington’s army from Princeton to Somerset Courthouse and Pluckemin before arriving Morristown. The path we’ve marked follows Washington’s route as best as possible.
A more detailed description of these sites can be found here: 2nd Battle of Trenton sites
Princeton is a rather small town (population of 28,600 in 2010 census) in New Jersey but has an outsized influence due to its historical significance during the time of the Revolutionary War and its ongoing presence of one of the top Ivy League universities in the USA -- Princeton University.
Princeton, located approximately half-way between New York City and Philadelphia, was settled by Quakers in 1696. The College of New Jersey (later to change its name to Princeton University) moved from Newark to Princeton in 1756. British regulars took over the college and were housed in Nassau Hall at the beginning of the War for Independence. One of George Washington's first successful battles against the British was at the Battle of Princeton which took place only days after Washington's Christmas night crossing of the Delaware River and the subsequent victory over the Hessian solders camped in Trenton, NJ.
After the war the US Capitol relocated from Philadelphia to Princeton from June to November 1783 (unpaid US troops were rioting while the Continental Congress was working on a solution to raise money since it was not given the right to levy taxes). The government met in Nassau Hall, officially received word of the end of the war (the Treaty of Paris) and welcomed the first foreign minister (from the Netherlands) of the new independent United States of America.
Besides Princeton University, the town also hosts the Westminster Choir College, the Princeton Seminary and the Institute for Advance Studies (of which one of its most famous employees was Alfred Einstein who lived in Princeton from 1935 to 1955).
Princeton was ranked 15th of the top 100 towns to live and work in by money magazine in 2005.