Whether you work, live in, or visit Princeton regularly, you may think you know all there is to know about this town – like the best places to eat or grab a cup of coffee, the tourist hotspots and even where Albert Einstein lived while working at The Institute for Advanced Study. But you might be missing something. Just a couple of weeks ago, I explored The Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood with a couple of my dear colleagues, seeing and learning about important areas in town and the new Heritage Tour from the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society (WJHCS).
Along the tour route, which includes stops along Witherspoon, John, Quarry and Clay streets to name a few, 29 plaques share the stories and legacies of the places and people that make the neighborhood. Some spots along the tour that were unfamiliar to me include The Charcoal Inn, a social club; and Pearl Moore Allen’s Tavern, a meeting place for the neighborhood. Along the way, I also spotted “Multicultural Stores in a Segregated Community,” a plaque honoring the shops and businesses “operated by diverse owners (Italian, Negro, Greek and Jewish),” and, “Houses Moved From Baker Street to Build Palmer Square.” Many African American families lived on Baker Street when these homes were physically moved to make way for Palmer Square. There is even a plaque on the exterior wall of the library for Albert E. Hinds Plaza, a beloved Princeton resident who, as the plaque explains, “was an ordinary man who led an extraordinary life during his 104 years.”
The Witherspoon-Jackson Heritage Tour is self-guided, as one plaque leads you to the next. If you like walking tours, be sure to check out The Historical Society of Princeton’s Digital Tours to explore more Princeton history, including their new tour Princeton’s Public School’s: A History. All of this information and more can be found on our A Visit to Princeton webpage. And, while you are visiting Princeton, come visit us! Our new, expanded hours are Monday through Thursday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday: noon to 6 p.m. While you’re here, stop by our Welcome Desk and pick up An Adventure in Stories, a fun quiz to test your knowledge of Princeton’s African American history.