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Things to do in Elizabeth

    Belcher Ogden Mansion Belcher-Ogden Mansion Elizabeth, New Jersey
    The Belcher Ogden Mansion had been the family residence of John Ogden during the mid-18th century, until the royal governor of New Jersey, Jonathan Belcher, decided to relocate the center of colonial government from Burlington on the Delaware River to Elizabeth, New Jersey and purchased the Ogden mansion. He would stay there until his death in 1757, with his help in starting a new school that would eventually grow up and become Princeton University. The school's first president, Rev. Jonathan Dickinson and his successor, Rev. Jonathan Edwards, would both visit Belcher at his home and become good friends. In 1758, William Peartree Smith, the grandson of New York city mayor, and close friend of New Jersey's first governor, William Livingston, began living in the residence, and his daughter, Catherine married Elisha Boudinot in 1778, whose brother was the president of the Continental Congress, Elias Boudinot. Alexander Hamilton had been the master of ceremonies, welcoming the many distinguished guests that included General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. Aaron Ogden, one of the descendants of the original builder, acquired the home in 1797 and lived there until he passed on. In 1812, Ogden, who had served with distinction in the Revolutionary War, would become the governor of New Jersey and entertained the Marquis in 1823 at the house, as they relived their war stories and exploits, but mostly the final battle at Yorktown. Other residents of the house would include; F. B. Chetwood, mayor of the city from 1871 to 1873 and US Congressman Amos Clark; with the last owner being Warren Dix. During the next few years, a local businessman, Edward Grassmann and the Elizabeth Historical Foundation tried restoring the house to its former glory. And in 2005, the historical society of Elizabeth would get the deed to the famous mansion. John Ogden, who had constructed the house, was one of the first settlers in the region, coming here in 1664.

    Ballantine House
    Ballantine House Newark, New Jersey
    The John Ballantine House had been the home of Jeanette Boyd and John Holme Ballantine, the son of Peter Ballantine, who had started Ballatine beer and the brewery, who then became the president after Peter passed in 1883. John passed on in 1895 of throat cancer, and the magnificent home was constructed in 1885 at Washington Street in the Washington Park area of Newark, New Jersey, and now belongs to the Newark Museum; and open for tours. George Edward Harney would create a number of designs for the house, which is a compact, symmetrical essay in a free Dutch renaissance style, that used salmon colored Roman bricks with limestone quoins and window surrounds with gothic-renaissance details. The interiors would be brought from New York, by D. S. Hess company, who were well known for their decorators and manufacturers of artistic furniture. The dining room contains part-gilded embossed panels that seem to be copies of the Spanish leather hangings that had become very popular in England and Holland during the 16th and 17th centuries. When Christmas arrived, the house would be dressed in holly and other winter greens in the old traditional Victorian style, and the museum published a brief history of the house in 1994 that coincided with the official opening, although it had been owned by the museum since 1937. It needed a two year, $4 million rejuvenation before it could be opened for tours and in 1985, it was declared a National Historic Landmark.

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    New Jersey Historical SocietyNew Jersey Historical Society Newark, New Jersey
    The New Jersey Historical Society and museum is located in Newark, New Jersey, started in 1845 in Trenton, by business and intellectual leaders of the region, but most significantly, William Whitehead, Joseph C. Hornblower and Peter D. Vroom. It would initially be located on Market Street, and in 1931, it would leave the downtown area and move into a big colonial style of structure that had been partly paid for by Louis Bamberger in Broadway, east of Branch Brooke Park. In 1997, the historical society would return to the downtown area once again, to 52 Park Place, on Military Park, into a Georgian structure that had been left empty by the Essex Club. The structure had been built in 1926 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991, and once it was back downtown, it had five times more visitors than before. Their library is located in the old Essex squash courts, with two floors of exhibition space, a hall for lectures and a gift shop. The society does offer Newark walking tours, but only occasionally, and publishes an academic journal called the New Jersey History. The third floor houses the permanent displays, with the second showcasing rotating exhibits.  The society's collections are the physical records of the state's history and present history, as well as stories, about how this state grew and the people that were involved in making its history. There are scrawling letters from 18 year olds that were in WWII in Europe, multi-colored costumes worn by folks in the Paterson Dominican Day Parade, the photograph of a Newark Eagles baseball player, a silver tankard created in 1767 that highlights the type of craftsmen that lived and worked here, and thousands more items that invite a quiet and prolonged perusal of the state's exciting and glorious history. The collection includes ceramics, costumes, glass works, furniture, prints, rare books, paintings, tools, manuscripts, pamphlets and more from the cultural and historical past of the state.

     Hersh Tower
    Hersh Tower Elizabeth, New Jersey
    The Hersh Tower in Elizabeth, New Jersey rises above the small shops and stores along Broad Street, reminiscent of a bygone era when the art deco structure would become the tallest building in the city, just a stone's through from the Big Apple. The facade is excellent with pale bricks, nickel and black marble, with a terrazzo floored lobby, elegant grille works and marble walls, 14 stories high and still standing. The building has had its share of owners and economic problems, until two brothers from New York City purchased it for their real estate company and started the long process of renovating and restoring it to its former luster. When Louis Hersh, local businessman, had it constructed in 1931, it became the tallest building in the city, until the Union county court building was built. It was filled with law offices, numerous types of businesses and insurance agencies, for many years, until the building began to fall into disrepair and the tenants started moving out, and by the 1980s, it was almost completely empty. Then, in 1990, the bank foreclosed and three years later, the Wydras brothers assumed the $3.4 million mortgage and started cleaning. They would spend another million to restore it, polishing the marble that had been covered in 64 years of dust and grime, replacing the elevators and silver leaf in the lobby among other things. The brothers are sure the building will be full again, with its outstanding views of the Manhattan skyline and the closeness to the Elizabeth train station that takes commuters to downtown New York City. During 1995, they would register the old building with the Union County Film commission in hopes of drawing some movie company there to film it for some kind of movie.

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Local Restaurants in Elizabeth

    Manolo's Restaurant
    Appetizers; seafood salad with avocado; fresh Spanish anchovies vinaigrette with endive & grape tomatoes; serrano ham with manchego cheese & fig almond tart; Spanish white asparagus over arugula & avocado with sherry vinegar mignonette; jumbo shrimp cocktail; kumanoto & blue point oyster shooter; ham croquettes with tetilla cheese sauce; chorizo braised in Spanish cider; fried calamari, scallops & shrimp for 2 with 2 sauces; gambas shrimp in garlic sauce; poached octopus Galician style with garlic pimento & olive oil; lump crab cakes; stuffed baby cuttlefish simmered in ink sauce; clams braised in chorizo. Entrees; monkfish with clams & shrimp simmered in garlic & parsley broth; pan roasted red snapper filet with mixed peppercorn-butter; Florida grouper filet pan seared & served in warm tomato & grape vinaigrette; jumbo shrimp simmered with onions, peppers & spicy tomato sauce; shrimp, scallops, calamari, clams & lobster steamed over Spanish rice; chicken, chorizo, shrimp, scallops, calamari, clams & lobster steamed over Spanish rice; chicken in garlic sauce with Spanish potatoes; chicken verdi sautéed & topped with fresh mozzarella, asparagus & Albarino wine sauce; chicken paillard sautéed & topped with fresh grape tomatoes, arugula, onion & caper relish with shaved parmesan; grilled pepper crusted pork filet with tamarind glaze; pan seared pork chops with fruit & toasted pignoli nuts with pan juices; grilled NY strip with green peppercorn scented brown sauce; filet mignon Manolo's wrapped in bacon with melted fresh mozzarella & rioja reduction; grilled double cut veal chop with sherry, caper, shiitake mushroom sauce.

    Tropicana Diner
    Appetizers; shrimp cocktail bruschetta with cocktail sauce; fried calamari rings with tomato sauce; stuffed mushrooms with crabmeat stuffing; buffalo wings; chicken fingers with honey mustard sauce; jalapeno poppers stuffed with cheddar cheese; cheese nachos Tropicana is tortilla chips topped with chili con carne, melted cheddar cheese, jalapeno & chopped tomatoes; cheese nachos with cheddar cheese, tomatoes & bacon bits; potato skins with sour cream; mozzarella sticks with tomato sauce. Entrees; served with soup or salad, potato or rice & veggie; NY sirloin served on sizzling platter with shoe string onions; sliced London broil with mushroom sauce; London broil with lemon, oregano, garlic; chopped sirloin steak with mushroom sauce; Virginia baked ham with pineapple rings; steak Murphy with sautéed mushrooms, peppers & onions in brown demi-glaze sauce with touch of vinegar; broiled pork chops on sizzling plate with shoe string onions & applesauce; roast young tom turkey all white meat, with stuffing, cranberry sauce & turkey gravy; roast top sirloin of beef au jus; pan-fried smothered pork chops lightly coated, pan-fried & smothered with sautéed onions & green bell peppers in special southern brown sauce with choice of potato & veggie, with housemade corn bread; roast half spring chicken with stuffing & applesauce; roast chicken with lemon, garlic & oregano; broiled half spring chicken with applesauce; baked meatloaf with mushroom sauce. 


Pan Roasted Red Snapper Manolo's Restaurant Elizabeth, New Jersey


Florida Grouper Manolo's Restaurant Elizabeth, New Jersey

 NY Sirloin Tropicana Diner Elizabeth, New Jersey


Pan Fried Smothered Pork Chops Tropicana Diner Elizabeth, New Jersey


Roasted Chicken Tropicana Diner Elizabeth, New Jersey

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    Newark Museum Newark Museum Newark, New Jersey
    The Newark Museum is the biggest museum in the state of New Jersey, with outstanding collections of contemporary art, decorative arts, American art, arts of the Americas, Africa, Asia and the ancient world. Started in 1909, the museum today contains works by such masters as John Singer Sargent, Albert Bierstadt, Hiram Powers, Frank Stella, Edward Hopper, Frederick Church, Thomas Cole, Georgia O'Keefe, Childe Hassam, Tony Smith, Mary Cassatt and Joseph Stella. Their Tibetan galleries are considered some of the finest in the entire world, bought from Christian missionaries during the early turn of the 20th century. These galleries contain a large in-situ Buddhist altar that the Dalai Lama has consecrated. The museum is dedicated to natural science and has the Dreyfuss Planetarium under its wing, along with the Victoria Hall of Science some contains some of the 70,000 pieces that are found in the natural science collections. The Alice Dreyfuss Memorial Garden, that is found behind the museum, hosts many concerts, performances, and other community programs, as well as being home to a 1784 old stone schoolhouse and fire safety center. The museum was started in 1909 by master Newark librarian John Cotton Dana, so that the city would have a repository for exceptional articles of science, art, technology and history, as well as encouragement for the study of the arts and sciences. The first collection was of Japanese prints, porcelains and silks acquired by a Newark pharmacist and has continued to grow many times over. It opened on the fourth floor of the public library, and then moved into its own purpose built structure in the 1920s after receiving a generous gift from Louis Bamberger. It moved into a former YMCA, then into the 1885 Ballantine House, and in 1990 into a building that had been donated some years before.

    Boxwood Hall State Historic Site
    Boxwood Hall State Historic Site Elizabeth, New JerseyNear the town of Ludlow, Elizabeth, the Buttermilk Falls offer a wonderful spot to enjoy a delicious picnic and a cool swim in the pool of water just below the falls.  It is one of the best swimming holes in the southern part of Elizabeth and a favorite for the locals.  The upper falls is divided into two horsetails, the right one is about 12 feet and the left one 15 feet cascading into a large pooled area that is great for swimming with a small rock bottom.  The water is usually clear, except after a storm or heavy rainfall, in which case the left horsetail is running much stronger also.  A great time is the late spring or mid summer, when the seasonal changes have given the surrounding areas their beauty.  The area is great for exploration and study with varied colored rocks of the Precambrian age and made of quartzite.  The upper ledge looks like a unique grey-green color that is opaque and the middle area is red. 

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    Liberty Hall MuseumLiberty Hall Museum Elizabeth, New Jersey
    The Liberty Hall Museum in Elizabeth, New Jersey is the former house and residence of William Livingston, a lawyer and first governor of New Jersey, after it became a state. The house was constructed in 1772, after William moved his family from New York City to a new country estate and farm, as tensions grew in the new world. His daughter, Sarah, would marry the future chief justice of the Supreme Court in the home's great hall in 1774, and as the struggles of the colonies came to a head, William would become a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1774, 1775 and 1776; after which he would be elected as the first governor and hold that position until his passing in 1790. The estate would be bought by Peter Kean in 1811, held in trust for his mother, Susan Livingston Kean Niemcewicz, William's niece; thus passing the estate to the Kean family that would live here for many years. Susan's first husband had been John Kean, a wealthy merchant from Charleston, South Carolina, who had served as a member of the Second Continental Congress, and after the Revolutionary War, he became the first Cashier of the Bank of the United States, under Washington. John would pass away in 1795, leaving Susan and her children alone. She married Count Julian Ursin Niemcewicz in 1800, who had come here from Poland, after being exiled by the monarchy there. After Napoleon invaded Poland in 1809, Julian would return to his country and never return, although he and Susan wrote many warm and cordial letters. Susan would then rename the estate, Ursino, in honor of her husband, and after Peter passed on in 1828, she took over as head of the house, staying there with Peter's widow and three children. John Kean would inherit the estate in 1833, Susan's grandson, who then graduated from Princeton in 1834, and getting onto Governor Pennington's staff, he would get the rank of colonel. During the next six decades, Kean would transform the house from a 14 room country home into a 50 room mansion that is now how the mansion stands today. John was a keen man of vision and began to invest in railroads, banks and public utilities, including the Elizabethtown Gas Light company and the Elizabethtown Water company, that are both still in operation. Colonel Kean and his wife, Lucinetta Halsted would have 11 children, but only 9 of them would survive to become adults, with two boys entering politics. John would serve in the House of Representatives and then he and his brother, Hamilton, would become senators. When the colonel passed on, the estate went to John, but he never married, so the estate passed to Hamilton's son, Captain John Kean, when he died. In 1925, John would marry Mary Alice Barney, the daughter of an important New York architect, John Stewart Barney, and she would love American history and art. After John inherited Liberty Hall in 1932, the couple would research the history of the magnificent mansion and acquired many family antiquities to improve its historical embellishments. After John passed on in 1949, Mary would begin the transformation that would create the outstanding museum that exists in the house today. Mary would rename the estate back to Liberty Hall, after it had been made a National Historic Landmark, in 1974 and her dream of creating a museum that would last for generations, to inspire her children and grandchildren became true.

    First Presbyterian Church
    First Presbyterian Church Elizabeth, New JerseyThe First Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey is well connected to the history of this country and the Revolutionary War, by its vibrant and outspoken minister and because a signer of the Declaration of Independence is buried in the church's cemetery. Almost destroyed by a fire, the church was restored in the 1970s to its glorious condition in the 18th century, and in 2008, their steeple was reconstructed, after it went missing. It is now bordered on two sides by county offices and courts, although the cemetery and church grounds have become favorite spots for lunch takers in the community. In October of 1664, a group of men signed a treaty with the local Indians and started Elizabeth Town, constructing a meeting house to gather for public affairs during the week and worship services on Sunday. In May, 1668, the first colonial assembly met there, and it would be and remain as the first English speaking church in the state for a long time. Today, some three and a half centuries later, the parish house, cemetery and church are still located on the same spot, a true witness to the faith, and a continuing commitment to the growth and improvement in the lives of the community that has come here to praise God for 350 years. The church and its original members would construct a town in the wilderness of a new world that grew to become the first capital of the state, creating a government of the people, by the people and for the people, becoming judges, mayors, representatives and members of the provincial and state assemblies that came here to meet and discuss the future of their town, state and nation. Three of the congregation became governors of the state, one, Abraham Clark would risk his life and sign the Declaration of Independence, and then the famous fighting parson, James Caldwell, joined the fight and served in the war, only to come to rest in his former cemetery. The initial meeting house grew and expanded numerous times, and in January, 1780, it would be burned by the British, as well as burning Pastor Caldwell's house and the Academy, which is where the parish house sits today. The church has managed to survive the struggles and turmoils that swept around it and is still standing proudly today, offering all people a place for rest and comfort from the storms that continue to boil up and swirl around the world.

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    Morgan Library and MuseumMorgan Library and Museum New York City, NY
    The Morgan Library and Museum that had been known as the Pierpont Morgan Library, is the museum and research library in New York City, NY that had been started to house the magnificent private library of J. P. Morgan in 1906. Included in the spectacular library are his collections of drawings and prints, manuscripts and printed books, of which numerous are in rare bindings. It originally cost $1.2 million and became a public institution in 1924, by his son, John Pierpont Morgan, Jr., and became a National Historic Landmark in 1966. Currently, the library has grown into a complex that contains facilities for scholarly research and as a museum. The expansive scope of the fabulous library collection was formed in its early years by Belle de Costa Greene, J. P.'s personal librarian and she would become the first director, serving it when it went public until her retirement in 1948. Next, Frederick Baldwin Adams, Jr. would direct the library until 1969, and became quite famous for his own personal collections. The library houses a large number of illuminated manuscripts, and authors' original manuscripts, that include numerous by Sir Walter Scott and Honore de Balzac; and scraps of paper that Bob Dylan had used to write down "It Ain't Me Babe" and "Blowin in the Wind". The massive and impressive collection contains a great number of incunabula ( earliest printed materials), prints and drawings of the great European masters like; Picasso, Raphael, Leonardo, Rubens, Durer, Michelangelo, Gainsborough and Rembrandt. There are also amazing early printed Bibles, including three Gutenberg Bibles and numerous examples of excellent bookbinding. This outstanding and magnificent collection includes concept drawings for the Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery, William Blakes' original drawings for his edition of the Book of Job, materials from ancient Egypt, Emile Zola, a Percy Bysshe Shelley notebook, medieval liturgical items that include Coptic literature examples, original poems by Robert Burns, a journal written by Henry David Thoreau, Mozart's Haffner Symphony in D major, a Charles Dickens manuscript of A Christmas Carol, manuscripts of Lord Bryon, George Sand, Charlotte Bronte, William Makepeace Thackeray and nine of Sir Walter Scott's novels which includes Ivanhoe; and a fantastic collection of autographed and annotated libretti and scores from Chopin, Verdi, Beethoven, Mahler and Brahms. This unbelievable collection, certainly one of the most excellent in the world today, also includes a number of old master paintings that were collected by Morgan between 1907 and 1911, and include works by Cima da Conegliano, Perugino and Hans Memling, as well as Ghirlandaio's marvelous Portrait of Giovanna Tomabuoni that ended up being sold to Thyssen during the Great Depression when the Morgan family coffers were dwindling. Some of the other exciting painters include; Paul Cezanne, Gaston Phoebus, Jean de Brunhoff, John Ruskin, Rembrandt van Rijn, John Leech and Vincent van Gogh.

    Singer Sewing Building
    Singer Sewing Building Elizabeth, New JerseyThe Singer Sewing Building was the home of the Singer Corporation that was initially started as the I. M. Singer & Company in 1851 by Isaac Merrit Singer and New York lawyer, Edward Clark. It was famous for its sewing machines and was renamed the Singer Manufacturing Company in 1865, and then to the Singer Company in 1963, based in Tennessee, near Nashville. But it was the first big factory for mass production that was constructed in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1863. The Singer company produced its first "vibrating shuttle" sewing machine in 1885, which was an enormous improvement over the contemporary oscillating shuttle designs that had been used for years. The company's 11,000 workers that were located at the Clydebank facility would strike in March-April of 1911, stopping the production line because 12 females had protested about the work process reorganization. After the strike, Singer fired 400 workers, that included all the strike leaders and supposed members of the IWGB, that included Arthur McManus, the man that would eventually become the first chairman of the Communist Party of Great Britain between 1920 and 1922. The company would suspend its operations for sewing machines during WWII and start making weapons for the government and its contracts; making the M1 Garand rifle receivers and Norden bomb sights. The company received a production study by the government in 1939 to create plans and develop raw material sizes for construction of M1911A1 pistols, and the next year, they received an educational order to make 500 units. The government was interested in finding out how a company could go from scratch to making weapons for the government; but after sending out the 500 units, the government decided that the company would be better suited for making artillery and bomb sights. Their pistol tooling and manufacturing machines were then transferred to Remington Rand, and some to the Ithaca Gun Company. These original and correct Singer pistols are very much in demand today, and in excellent condition can fetch anywhere from $25,000 to $60,000, with some going as high as $80,000 at auctions.

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 Bldg. #36 Station P2 36 Carson

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    Thomas Edison National Historic ParkThomas Edison National Historic Park West Orange, New Jersey
    The Thomas Edison National Historical Park preserves the laboratory that Thomas Edison built and his former residence called Glenmont in West Orange, New Jersey. The lab would affect the lives of people around the world for over four decades and out of this lab would come; the nickel-iron alkaline electric storage battery, the motion picture camera, better phonographs, silent and sound movies, and sound recordings. How the site would become a National Historic Park is rather unusual, since the house became the Edison Home National Historic Site in 1955, and the lab was made the Edison Laboratory National Monument in 1956; and then in 1962, the 21 acre site became the Edison National Historic Site, managed by the National Park Service. In 2009, it would be renamed the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, hoping that by adding Thomas to this site, it wouldn't be so confusing to people because there are other sites in West Orange and Edison, New Jersey. The site would be completely restored in 2009.  On the National Park Service web site, they ask a simple question that will amaze and astound you, since it involves that famous inventor that contributed so much to this country, world and the people in it. That question is really simple and asks you to consider what your life, all our lives, would be like if Edison hadn't lived. Your day ends at sunset, because he wasn't hear to invent the light bulb that has finally evolved after more than a century into fluorescent bulbs that last much longer and don't need so much energy to run. You wouldn't have any movies to watch, or records to listen to and so much more that most of us don't really know or care about as long as we have our dear electronic devices to keep us and our pea brains occupied. Can you just imagine what our lives would be like if we didn't have all those inventions? Get all the answers here, as you discover just how much this man called Thomas Edison has done for us and future generations.  The image to the right was Edison's home, and he would live there from 1887 until 1931, creating more than 500 patents at his invention factory, with machine shop, library and chemistry lab.  

    Statue of Liberty
    Statue of Liberty Liberty Island, New York HarborThe Statue of Liberty is a huge neoclassical sculpture that stands tall on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, dedicated to the people of the United States in 1886, and designed by Frederic Bartholdi. It was a gift from the French people and shows a robed female that represents Libertas, the roman goddess of freedom, holding a torch and tabula ansata (tablet evoking the law) that has the date of the Declaration of Independence inscribed on it. A broken chain lays at her feet, symbolizinng the breaking away of the old colony of the New World from its British owners. It has become an iconic symbol of the freedoms offered in this country and of the United States itself. Frederic was inspired by the French law professor, Edouard Rene de Laboulaye, who said in 1865, that any monument raised to the American independence would have to be a joint project of the American and French peoples. Because France was in the middle of political troubles of her own at the time, the project wouldn't begin until the early 1870s, with Laboulaye suggesting that the French finance the statue and the Americans supply the pedestal and site. The rest is completely historical and worth reading if not already familiar with the subject, since it has been here for more than 135 years.  But you might want to hurry since the statue is scheduled to be closed beginning in late 2011 for almost a year so they can install another staircase to the top.

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May 12, 2011