The recorded history of the Princeton area began in the late 17th century when European travelers crossed the narrow “waist” of New Jersey between the Delaware and Raritan rivers along paths created by the Lenni Lenape Indians. Portions of these paths survive in present-day Nassau and Stockton Streets, Princeton-Kingston Road, Princeton-Lawrenceville Road, and Mount Lucas Road. One former path became the King’s Highway and central New Jersey’s main road for well over a hundred years.
Princeton has been around for over two centuries. It was settled by the Lenni Lenape Indians. These Native Americans came from Asia and migrated into North America. They called the land that they found, “Lenape.” This means that they had come across a place where the sky met the earth. The first Europeans to discover this land were Dutch traders. In 1625, Henry Hudson, an English explorer, sailed north up the river now known as the Raritan River. He was looking for the fabled Northwest Passage, which would lead him into the Atlantic Ocean. He sailed the entire length of the Hudson River but was unable to find the Northwest Passage.
A very old path was located in what is now Princeton. This path started in Trenton and ran toward Elizabeth. A few decades ago, it became a main road between Trenton and Princeton.
Today, much of the land that was once part of the original Princeton settlement has been developed. However, one part of this area still remains untouched and undeveloped. This part of the town is called the Main Street Historic District. The area was once known as the “Princeton Triangle,” and it had a number of buildings that served as residences. Today, many of these houses have been turned into single-family homes and apartments. The triangle has been declared a historic district, and it is protected from development.
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