By Taylor Smith 

On May 27, more than 500 professional and amateur cyclists will gather to compete in the 76th Annual Tour of Somerville at Davenport and Main streets in Somerville, N.J. Held rain or shine, the historic event is the oldest bike race in the country. Over 50 U.S. Cycling Hall of Fame inductees have participated in the race, along with Tour de France champion Greg LeMond.  more

Arboretum visits can help homeowners visualize their own landscape

By Wendy Greenberg

The ambler, the hiker, or those seeking inspiration from nature are probably not far from one of the many lush arboreta and gardens in the tri-state area. A visit can also offer homeowners a preview of what a young tree will look like in 50 years, among other landscaping ideas.

“Let’s face it,” says Bruce Crawford, director of Rutgers Gardens at New Brunswick, “the palette we (homeowners) pick from is limited, and somewhat self-perpetuating, as we often see one style of a backyard and acquire the same plants and trees. But a public garden or arboretum can show what blooms in the off season, and create a broader palette for the home.”

Rutgers, he notes, has many native dogwoods, but also has interspecific hybrids between our native dogwood and the Chinese dogwood, like the recent hybrid, Scarlet Fire, with “good deep, red flowers.” more

Winged burning bush, Euonymus alatus

The Impact of Invasive Species

By Taylor Smith

in·va·sive

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “invasive” as “the onset or appearance of something harmful or troublesome, as a disease.”

A massive influx of invasive flora and fauna has negatively impacted huge swaths of our native ecosystem, disrupting plant, animal, and human function. In contrast, native plants help to sustain native wildlife like butterflies, birds, mammals, reptiles, beneficial insects, and other fauna.

The vision of Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS) is to protect New Jersey’s natural lands with their native plants. Its focus is on eliminating threats posed by newly emerging invasive species before they become widespread pests. Created to do just that, the FoHVOS New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team is currently working on a project to protect rare species throughout the municipality of Princeton. more

Jane Leifer, left, and Lisa Dorota Tebbe, right, hoisting the Class of ’73 Coeducation P-rade banner. In the foreground is Elaine Chan.

Recollections After 50 Years

By Donald Gilpin

As lunchtime approached, my two roommates and I, all of us sophomores, peered out the window of our second story Laughlin Hall dormitory room, watching the pathway below leading towards Blair Arch and the Commons dining halls beyond. It was September 1969. Nixon was in the White House, the Vietnam War continued, The Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women” was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and Princeton University had just admitted regularly-enrolled undergraduate women for the first time.

A young woman came into sight, walking up the path. Sandy Stuart, the bravest of the three of us, quickly headed out the door. We watched as he hustled to catch up to the “coed,” as the 149 regular undergraduate women were called, hoping to introduce himself and maybe even sit next to her at lunch.

His odds were not good. With a ratio of 19 undergraduate men to each woman in Princeton’s first year of coeducation, most male students would find that male-female encounters were rare, and most female students would suggest that encounters with Princeton males were likely to be awkward, unnatural, or worse. 

After 223 years as an institution devoted exclusively to the education of men, Princeton University decided and implemented its first year of educating women with uncharacteristic alacrity. The times were changing in all sorts of ways, politically and socially; Yale was admitting women for the first time in the fall of 1969; the most highly qualified applicants from the top public and private secondary schools in the country were overwhelmingly showing a preference for coeducational colleges and universities; and the mood on campus, among students and professors, was strongly, perhaps even urgently, in favor of opening the doors of Princeton to women — for practical, academic, social, cultural, and political reasons.  more

Architects in Their Own Homes

By Anne Levin | Photography by Jeffrey E. Tryon

When architects design a home, the challenge is to navigate a delicate balance between their artistic vision and the client’s demands. But when the residence they are designing is their own, a sense of freedom comes into play.

The Princeton area boasts an unusually high concentration of architects. We visited the homes of eight of them — six houses, including two married couples — and found a marked individuality in styles, approaches, and visions. One thing they all have in common: They love where they live.

J. Robert and Barbara Hillier

A 22-acre piece of land between the Delaware River and the Delaware Canal in Bucks County, Pa., is the site of Autretemps, the home of the Hilliers, partners in the Princeton firm Studio Hillier. (The couple are shareholders in Witherspoon Media Group, which publishes Princeton Magazine).

“The house is totally modern, but with its construction with materials and forms that are indigenous to Bucks County, it has a casual and relaxed warmth that is often lost in modern architecture,” said Bob Hillier. “A silo, built of glass block instead of silo tiles, houses a circular stair and, at night, serves as a beacon for travelers along the river road. Local fieldstone, big timbers, and cedar siding all work with the great amounts of glass to build the warmth while providing fantastic views of the river and the surrounding terrain.” more

Main building, Ellis Island

The Immigration Experience at Historic Ellis Island

by Taylor Smith | Photos courtesy of The National Park Service and Wikimedia Commons

More than 12 million immigrants passed through the U.S. immigration portal at New York’s Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954. These determined individuals — many of whom were escaping extreme poverty, famine, and persecution — often spent all of their savings on a single ticket, causing many families to become separated. Teenage children were left to cross the ocean alone, not knowing what was in store for them when they arrived in America, or whether they would every see their parents again.

This uncertainty did not dissipate after the ships sailed past the Statue of Liberty, a literal beacon of light, hope, and freedom to the arriving passengers. The inspection process at Ellis Island was another big hurdle to cross, and the health and confidence of the arriving immigrants — who often did not speak English and had eaten little and seldom bathed during their long journey — was not strong.

All arriving passengers were processed in the Registry Room where they were organized in pens similar to cattle or livestock. Public Health Service doctors poked and prodded as they asked the new arrivals to cough, stand up straight, and answer a few questions to assess their psychological state. Special attention was paid to individuals who appeared weak and off balance, struggling to carry their own luggage up the broad staircase to the Registry Room. Of primary concern were cholera, scalp and nail fungus, tuberculosis, epilepsy, trachoma, insanity, and other mental impairments. Trachoma, a contagious eye infection that can lead to blindness and death, was itself somewhat akin to a death sentence, sending afflicted patients back to their home country. During their examination, Ellis Island physicians used a hooked metal tool to literally flip a new arrival’s eyelid inside out. Excessive redness on the under-eyelid was taken as suspected trachoma. Cases of misdiagnosis were not uncommon.  more

Threats and Protections in Today’s World

By Will Uhl

Digital communication has made the world a more interconnected place. Instant global communication has allowed for more international collaboration. But as digital communication becomes more centralized, government and corporate surveillance bleeds further into everyday life. Now, as world leaders make bolder legislation and multi-billion-dollar companies produce more invasive products, rights and convenience are clashing -— and there is more than personal privacy on the line.

For Fun and Profit

Social media has introduced another party to surveillance: technology corporations. Facebook is the obvious example; the company is infamous for the amount of information it collects about its users from their smartphones. Facebook has documented calls and texts made outside their apps, constantly recorded the phone’s geographic location, and deceived users into uploading the phone’s contact list. However, every popular social media giant is guilty of tracking more personal data than users realize, including Twitter and Tumblr. It’s their business model.

Social media sites make most of their profits from advertising, and being able to target advertisements to specific users is good business. As a result, Facebook tracks not just the location, age, gender, language, and education level of its users, but also categorizes users according to details as specific as “Users who are ‘heavy’ buyers of beer, wine, or spirits” and “Users whose household makes more purchases than is average.” The more data advertisers collect, the better they can target users. more

Landscape designed by Beatrix Farrand at the Graduate College.

Exotic and native plants, shrubs, and trees get their start in Princeton University’s greenhouses and nursery

By Ilene Dube | Photography by Jeffrey E. Tryon

a bitterly cold day on the Princeton University campus, and the wind is whipping plastic flaps around the greenhouses. Landscape architect Devin Livi uses his special key to let us inside, where the air is warm and moist. I feel like I’ve left winter for the tropics. Flats of potted vinca and ivy are a reminder that we’re on an Ivy League campus.

“When we’re done with the tour,” I find myself telling Livi, “I’m not leaving.”

“It’s a great job,” he admits.

He takes me to another greenhouse, where he lifts a plastic screen. It’s like peering through a portal to spring. There is coleus, orchids, lantana, euphorbia, even Einstein’s begonia. “Everything is hand-watered,” Livi says as fans spin above, spreading the most air.

At the time of my visit this past winter, Livi, who is the associate director, grounds, was more focused on snow removal and salting than in the orders he’d placed for bulbs and spring plants — his crew of 45 handles everything from maintaining lawns to planting and pruning. “None of this would be possible without our dedicated crew,” he says. “One generation passes along knowledge to the next.” more

By Taylor Smith

During decades of economic decline, Asbury Park was mostly known as the place where musical icon Bruce Springsteen got his start at The Stone Pony nightclub in the mid-1970s. However, since 2000, Asbury has seen a dramatic revitalization and influx of new residents from urban centers like New York City. In fact, modern-day Asbury has been affectionately dubbed “Brooklyn on the Beach” for its large population of artists, musicians, foodies, and creatives. Real estate projects, like the new Asbury Ocean Club, and new restaurants dominate the historic boardwalk, and day trippers flock to the seaside town year-round.

Over 39 bars, several blocks of art galleries, antique shops, restaurants (from traditional Italian to vegan), and an art house cinema lure visitors from the nearby NJ Transit depot. The tradition of live musical acts is still alive and well at venues like The Stone Pony, Wonder Bar, and the vintage bowling alley-music hall Asbury Lanes. Food trucks serving ceviche, empanadas, and Johnny’s Pork Roll gather north of the Convention Center at North Eats. The seasonal Market at Fifth Avenue features independent artisans and designers selling everything from woven leather jewelry to locally-made sunglasses.  more

By Taylor Smith 

Best Buddies New Jersey’s Friendship Walk will take place on Saturday, April 27 at 10 a.m. at The College of New Jersey in Ewing. Check-in is at 9 a.m. The Best Buddies Friendship Walk is the number one walk in the country raising awareness and funds to support inclusion for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). At this event, you can expect to dance, laugh, smile, and make new friends. If you would like to attend, but choose not to walk, volunteers are readily needed to assist with event planning and day-of support. Sign up to volunteer at www.bestbuddies.org/volunteer/more

By Taylor Smith 

Many neighborhoods, one Middletown!

The sprawling township of Middletown borders the Monmouth County communities of Atlantic Highlands, Colts Neck Township, Fair Haven, Hazlet, Highlands, Holmdel, Keansburg, Red Bank, Rumson, Sea Bright and Tinton Falls. The Sandy Hook peninsula is also within Middletown Township, though it is not connected to the township by land, but can be accessed along Raritan Bay by boat.  more

By Taylor Smith 

April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day and the entire month of April is recognized as World Autism Month. Many will wear the color blue to mark the occasion in an attempt to bring awareness to a condition that physicians say affects 1 in 59 children in the United States.  more

Climb on board for a ride on the train, Easter egg hunt, and bunny meet-and-greet 

By Taylor Smith 

Black River & Western Railroad at Stangl Road and State Route 12 in Flemington is hosting Easter-themed train rides and activities on Saturday, April 20. Admission is $12 for children and $16 for adults.  more

By Taylor Smith 

Step back in time to Medieval Europe while remaining in Manhattan? Yes, it’s possible. Just plan a trip to The Met Cloisters in Washington Heights’ Fort Tryon Park. North of the Bronx, The Cloisters is perched on a very high overlooking the neighborhood of Inwood and offering sweeping views of New Jersey’s Palisades, specifically the cliffs of Fort Lee and Englewood.  more

By Taylor Smith 

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is frequently recognized as one of the nation’s top public colleges for animation, as noted in the 2019 Animation School Ranking published by Animation Career Review. 

Central to this distinction is NJIT’s B.A. in digital design with two tracks: entertainment and interactive media/production. Both programs offer undergraduate students experience in character design, color and composition, game modification, acting for animators, character development, and technology.  more

By Taylor Smith 

Services available on the Princeton Health campus include appointments with clinicians who specialize in transplant care and are familiar with the unique needs of transplant patients, transplant evaluations for new patients, and pre-transplant appointments for established patients.  more

Artwork from “Art & Healing: Expressions of Trauma and Gratitude”

The eight artists in the exhibition “Art & Healing: Expressions of Trauma and Gratitude,” have each experienced a life-altering cancer diagnosis. Thanks to the vehicles of art and storytelling, these patients have found a new way to communicate their personal struggles and experiences of living with cancer. more

By Taylor Smith

Most people use some form of technology throughout the day. Whether it’s listening to music, ordering an Uber, booking a dinner reservation, or responding to emails. Have you ever thought that those apps on your phone could be used to improve mental health? Below are some specific apps that can be used for potentially improving thoughts, feelings, sleep, and general happiness levels. more