Saturday, May 27, 2017

George Washington to Grecian Gyros - Trenton, NJ

On our way from Washington, D.C. to NYC we stopped in Trenton, NJ to visit the New Jersey State House, see the Trenton Battle Monument and have lunch. 

What is now Trenton was established next to the Delaware River in 1679 by some English Quakers. It was named Trent-towne in 1719 after William Trent, a leading landholder, and the name was eventually shortened to Trenton. 

The Battle of Trenton, a pivotal battle in the American Revolution, occurred on the morning of December 26, 1776. The Continental Army, under General George Washington, had suffered a number of defeats and morale was low. The weather was cold and the Delaware River was full of ice. A garrison of 1,500 Hessians was located in Trenton, right next to what is the New Jersey State House today. Washington crossed the Delaware River with 2,400 men on Christmas evening, December 25, 1776, and marched 9 miles south to Trenton where they surrounded the garrison and captured two-thirds of the Hessians. This was a major turning point in the war, increased morale and helped the Continental Army to get much-needed new recruits. 

The Trenton Battle Monument, which commemorates the Battle of Trenton, was designed by John H. Duncan, who designed Grant's Tomb, and was dedicated in 1893. It is located at "Five Points," the intersection of Warren (King) Street, North Broad (Queen) Street, Brunswick Avenue, Pennington Avenue and Princeton Avenue, where the Continental Army's artillery was placed. 
The column is built of granite and a bronze statute of General George Washington stands on top of it. 
Washington's extended right hand points down King (now Warren) Street where he is directing the fire of the artillery. 
This bronze relief by Thomas Eakins, on the side of the base of the monument, depicts the "Continental Army Crossing the Delaware River." 
This bronze relief, also by Eakins, depicts Alexander Hamilton's battery about to fire down King Street. 
The New Jersey State House is the capitol building of New Jersey and was built in 1790, just 14 years after the Battle of Trenton (but has undergone additions and major renovations since then). Chris Christie, the current governor, has his office just off the bottom floor of the rotunda, and the State House also houses both chambers of the legislature, the office of the Lieutenant Governor and some other state government departments. 
This picture, from Wikipedia, shows the State House from across the Delaware River (the building with the gold dome near the center). 
The entrance on the side opposite the river.
The gold dome from a nearby parking lot. 
Inside the rotunda, looking up into the dome. 
A portion of the side of the rotunda.
A portrait of William Paterson in the rotunda, governor of NJ from 1790 to 1793. He had previously been a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and served as a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1793 to 1806. 
This plaque, right outside the governor's office, honors Woodrow Wilson who was governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913 and then President of the United States from 1913 to 1921 through World War I. 
The chamber of the General Assembly.
The carpet in the General Assembly features the American goldfinch, the state bird; the northern red oak, the state tree; the honey bee, the state bug; and the viola sororia, the state flower. 
This beautiful ceramic sculpture also depicts the same state themed items, although not all of them are found in this photo. 
A stained glass dome above the General Assembly.
A stained glass window in the rotunda showing the state seal. What looks like an exotic script in the center is a series of plows, illustrating New Jersey's agrarian roots. 
Just off Warren (formerly King) Street, in downtown, a flew blocks from the State House, we stopped for lunch at Gyro Express, which had great ratings on Yelp. Judy got a plate of lamb, rice and salad, covered with a yogurt dressing. I got a gyro, which was rotisseried lamb on pita bread, with tomato, onion, lettuce and a yogurt sauce. We also ordered a side of hummus and falafel, but the proprietor later came and offered the hummus for free, without the falafel, as he thought it all would be too much for us to eat. 
Very fast and efficiently run and it moves people in and out quickly. 
Judy's lamb, rice and salad. It was excellent.
My gyro, with lettuce masquerading the other ingredients. It was excellent as well.
Trenton is fascinating. For the most part it is quite dingy and seedy. The Battlefield Monument is in a residential neighborhood that has seen better days. In fact while we were there, a local approached us and asked us why we were taking pictures of that old, rundown thing. He complained that the city did not take better care of the monument and the area. I don't think it gets many visitors. The inside of the State House, particularly the rotunda area near the governor's office, lacks the sparkle, shine and majesty generally associated with capitol buildings. But it did have some stately and beautiful elements. While looking for Gyro Express, we stopped in a government building across the street and asked after the name of the restaurant, pronouncing Gyro as "hero." They'd never heard of it. Then Judy gave the address and they said, "Oh 'jy-roh' Express," in the typical hard New Jersey accent, "it is across the street." 


  1. I was downright shocked by how run-down Trenton is, and what a missed opportunity there is for showcasting the area's pivotal role in US histsory. The Trenton Battle Monument was really quite beautiful, but the landscaping was dead or non-existent. Seems like the perfect place for a church service project. It really wouldn't take much to make it a lovely spot. The state capitol was nice but lacked the usual "tourist" art/features that I've enjoyed so much in other capitols. The one exception was the ceramic sculpture you referenced. We DID have a really excellent tour guide who kept reminding the class of school children in our group that the government works for THEM. I liked her a lot.

  2. The rotunda dome looks a little like an egg with yolk. The stained glass dome above the General Assembly is beautiful, as is the carpet.