1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Trenton (New Jersey)
TRENTON, the capital of New Jersey, U.S.A., and the county seat of Mercer county, on the eastern bank of the Delaware river, about 33 m. N.E. of Philadelphia, and about 59 m. S.W. of New York. Pop. (1890), 57,458; (1900), 73,307, of whom 16,793 were foreign-born (including 4114 Germans, 3621 English, 3292 Irish, and 1494 Hungarians), and 32,879 were of foreign parentage (both parents foreign-born), including 8873 of German parentage, 8324 of Irish parentage, 5513 of English parentage, and 2243 of Hungarian parentage; (1910 census), 96,815. Area, 9 sq. m. Trenton is served by the Pennsylvania (main line and Belvidere division) and the Philadelphia & Reading railway systems, by inter-urban electric railways, and by small freight and passenger steamers on the Delaware river; the Delaware & Raritan Canal connects with the Raritan river at New Brunswick. Trenton is at the head of navigation on the Delaware river, which falls 8 ft. here. Riverside park extends along its water front for about 3 m., and on the outskirts of the city lies Cadwalader park (100 acres), containing a zoological garden. In the centre of the city, marking the spot where Washington planted his guns at the battle of Trenton, stands the Battle monument, a Roman-Doric column of granite, 150 ft. high, hollow and fluted, its cap forming an observatory, with a statue of Washington by William R. O'Donovan (b. 1844). In Perry Street, mounted on a granite pedestal, is the “Swamp Angel,” the great gun used by Federal troops in the marshes near Charleston, South Carolina, during their attack on that city in August 1863. There are many buildings in the city which are rich in historic associations. Chief among these is the barracks, erected by the colony in 1758 to mitigate the evils of billeting, and occupied by British troops during the Seven Years' War, and at different times by British, Hessian and American troops during the War of Independence. Other interesting landmarks are “Woodland” (formerly called “Bloomsbury Court”), built early in the 18th century by William Trent, and said to have sheltered, at various times, Washington, Lafayette and Rochambeau; the “Hermitage,” erected some time before the War of Independence; and “Bow Hill,” in the suburbs of the city, a quaint old colonial mansion which for some time before 1822 was a home of Joseph Bonaparte. Among the public buildings are the state capitol, the post office building, the county court house, the city hall, the second regiment armoury, public library (containing about 42,000 volumes in 1909), and the building (1910) given by Henry C. Kelsey to the city for the school of industrial arts (founded in 1898). Here also are the state normal and model schools (1855), the state library, housed in the capitol, the state school for deaf mutes, the state home for girls, one of the two state hospitals for the insane (opened in 1848), the state arsenal—the building being the old state prison—the state prison (1836), St Francis hospital (1874), Mercer hospital (1892), the William McKinley memorial hospital (1887), the city hospital, two children's day nurseries, the Friends' home, the Union industrial home (for destitute children), the Florence Crittenton home (1895), the indigent widows' and single women's home (1854), the Har Sinai charity society, the home for friendless children, and the society of St Vincent de Paul. Trenton, is the see of Protestant Episcopal and Roman Catholic bishops.
Trenton is an important industrial centre. Its proximity to the coal fields of Pennsylvania and to the great markets of New York and Philadelphia, and its excellent transportation facilities by rail and by water, have promoted the development of its manufactures. The city is the greatest centre for the pottery industry in the United States. In 1905 there were 40 establishments for the manufacture of pottery and terra-cotta, employing 4571 labourers; and their total product was valued at $5,882,701—or 9.2% of the value of the pottery product of the United States, and 18% of the value of all the city's factory products, in this year. The chief varieties of this ware are vitrified china, belleek china, semi-porcelain, white granite and c. c. ware, vitrified porcelain for electrical supplies, porcelain bath tubs and tiles, and terra-cotta. Clay for the “saggers,” or cases in which the wares are fired, is mined in the vicinity, but the raw materials for the fine grades of pottery are obtained elsewhere. Some pottery was made in Trenton by crude and primitive methods near the beginning of the 19th century, but the modern methods were not introduced until 1852, when yellow and Rockingham wares were first made here. In 1859 the manufacture of white granite and cream coloured ware was successfully established. The fine exhibits from the Trenton potteries at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 greatly stimulated the demand for these wares and increased the competition among the manufacturers; and since that date there has been a marked development in both the quantity and the quality of the product. In Trenton, also, are manufactured iron, steel and copper wire, rope, cables and rods—the John A. Roebling's Sons Company has an immense wire and cable manufactory here—iron and steel bridge building materials and other structural work, plumbers' supplies (manufactured by the T. L. Mott Company), and machinery of almost every character, much of it being exported to foreign countries. Much rubber ware is also manufactured. In 1905 Trenton contained 312 factories, employing 14,252 labourers, and the total value of the factory products was $32,719,945.
The charter, as amended, provides for a mayor elected for two years and a common council of two members from each ward elected for two years. Other elected officers are: city clerk, comptroller, treasurer, counsel, receiver of taxes, engineer, inspector of buildings, overseer of poor, street commissioner and sealer of weights and measures. The municipality owns the water works and the sewer system; the water supply is obtained from the Delaware and is stored in a reservoir having a capacity of about 110,000,000 gallons.
The settlement of Trenton began in 1680 with the erection by Mahlon Stacy, a Quaker colonist of Burlington, of a mill at the junction of the Assanpink creek with the Delaware river. By 1685 a number of colonists had settled at this point, which became known as “The Falls ” on account of the rapids in the Delaware here. In 1714 Stacy sold his plantation at “The Falls” to William Trent (c. 1655–1724), speaker of the New Jersey Assembly (1723) and chief justice of the colony (1723–1724), in whose honour the place came to be called Trenttown or Trenton. In 1745 Trenton received a royal charter incorporating it as a borough, but in 1750 the inhabitants voluntarily surrendered this privilege, deeming it “very prejudicial to the interest and trade ” of the community. In 1783 the New Jersey delegates in Congress proposed that Trenton be made the seat of the general government, but as this measure was opposed by the Southern delegates, it was agreed that Congress, pending a final decision, should sit alternately at Annapolis and Trenton. Congress accordingly met in Trenton in November 1784, but soon afterwards removed to New York, where better accommodation could be obtained. Trenton became the capital of the state in 1790, was chartered as a city in 1792, and received new charters in 1837, 1866, and 1874. The borough of South Trenton was annexed in 1850; the borough of Chambersburg and the township of Millham in 1888; the borough of Wilbur in 1898; and parts of the townships of Ewing and Hamilton in 1900.
See The City of Trenton, N.J., a Bibliography (1909), prepared by the Trenton Free Library; John O. Raum, History of the City of Trenton (Trenton, 1871); George A. Wolf, Industrial Trenton (Wilmington, Del., 1900); F. B. Lee, History of Trenton (Trenton, 1895.
- The name Assanpink is a corruption of an Indian word said to mean “place of stone implements.” In gravel deposits in and near Trenton many stone implements, human skulls and remains of extinct animals have been found, and according to some scientists they are evidences of Glacial man, a conclusion disputed by others. (See America, vol. i. p. 817)