Primary Source Report – KS

Primary Source Report

Aero Service Corporation. Aerial View of Trenton, N. J. Showing Delaware River and Stacy Park. Postcard stamped July 23, 1956.

–. Aerial View of Trenton, N. J. Showing State Capitol and Business Section. Postcard stamped October 13, 1954.

  • Location: My own collection.
  • Description: Postcards showing from two angles a portion of my research site – South Trenton business district and Stacy Park along the Delaware River. Though the cards are stamped in 1954 and 1956 – during construction of the Assunpink Way – the view is without the new road; an exact date of the postcards production is not available. These images – artists’ depictions – display the beauty and charm of the area, lending visual aid to the highway opponents’ pleas to save their cherished park. The postcards also demonstrate that this particular area was proudly shown by locals and visitors to people across the country. I plan to use these postcards to not only help show the specific environment in which my historical actors played, but how these historical actors saw it themselves.
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Postcard depicting Aerial View of Trenton, N. J., Showing Delaware River and Stacy Park.
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Postcard depicting Aerial View of Trenton, N. J., Showing State Capitol and Business Section.

New Jersey State Highway Department: Division of Planning, Traffic and Economics. “Proposed State Highway Construction Program.” Government Report, Trenton, NJ, 1951.

  • Location: New Jersey State Library (scanned from the original).
  • Description: A typed collection of items detailing the next five years of proposed highway projects by the State Highway Department. Item 11 is the Route 29 extension (Assunpink Way, Lafayette Boulevard extension, John Fitch Way) which is the focus of this research project. The document – which is just shy of 1 ½ pages – describes the drastic need for a relief route for east-west traffic, which at the time clogged the intersection of State and Calhoun Streets daily. The plan proposes to overpass Calhoun Street entirely with an extension of Route 29 from Stockton Street (in the heart of the city) to Parkside Avenue (a suburb of Trenton a mile and a half up the Delaware River) to help relieve State Street. The Highway Department claims that with this plan, vehicles could reach the suburbs more easily by avoiding the “central business area of Trenton.” I plan to use this document to help demonstrate the aims and motives of the State Highway Department in the construction of this road. At the same time, this document has interesting insights into how the Department viewed the seemingly arbitrary limitations of their power in terms of traffic control jurisdiction. The Department here notes that, despite their willingness to move traffic away from the business district of Trenton, it “cannot and should not cope with the problems created by local traffic within” those same areas.
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NJ State Highway Department Proposed Highway Construction Program, title page.
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NJ State Highway Department Proposed Highway Construction Program, report on Route 29 extension, first page.
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NJ State Highway Department Proposed Highway Construction Program, report on Route 29 extension, second page.

Shuman, Eleanore Nolan. The Trenton Story. Trenton: MacCrellish & Quigley Company, 1958.

  • Location: Lawrence Public Library.
  • Description: While this book was published one year after the completion of the Assunpink Way, its contents are very much pertinent to the contemporary social, cultural, and political apparatus of the capital city. The book is not an official government document, but, as Trenton Mayor Donal Connolly wrote in a letter placed before the author’s preface: “The Mayor’s Citizens Committee and the businesses and industries of this community have made a significant contribution to the people of Trenton in sponsoring and financing this publication.” It is a document conjured by the city’s own elite to showcase its history and plans for the future in order to demonstrate how Trenton, as Mayor Connolly wrote, “richly deserves her high rank among the four leading historic American cities.” I plan to utilize this book to incorporate what could be described as the collective testament of the City of Trenton. In addition to this grand purpose, The Trenton Story also provides histories of various notable organizations, institutions, people, and places, such as John Fitch (of John Fitch Way), the city’s highways, and Stacy Park. This, too, can prove useful in contextual analysis and description of my site and historical actors. 

South Broad Street Merchants Association. “Chinese Walls Aren’t Progress, Commissioners.” The Trenton Evening Times. (Trenton, NJ), April 13, 1948.

  • Location: In The Trenton Evening Times, found in the New Jersey State Library. Accessed and downloaded page digitally.
  • Description: A nearly half-page advertisement taken out by the South Broad Street Merchants Association in the Trenton Evening Times. Along with several quotes throughout news articles in the Times, this advertisement is the most significant source I have from the Merchants themselves. In big, block lettering, the advertisement shouts at State Highway Commissioner Spencer Miller that “Chinese Walls Aren’t Progress;” in actuality, it is an open letter not only to the State but an appeal to residents of Trenton. The merchants here are making their case to the public against the Assunpink Way (which they deem the “MEDIEVAL WAY”) by using dramatic language along with sober, matter-of-fact opinions of independent engineers they hired to analyze the highway plans. This advertisement will be instrumental in examining the views and approach of this anti-highway group, showing how they interacted with their community and their government in the same space. Until I discover more documents from the South Broad Street Merchants, this will act as their treatise on the Assunpink Way. 
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Advertisement in “The Trenton Evening Times” by the South Broad Street Merchants Association.

The Trenton Evening Times. (Trenton, NJ), 1947-1957.

  • Location: New Jersey State Library. Accessed and downloaded digitally; available remotely.
  • Description: The Trenton Evening Times is the definitive primary source on the overall story and timeline of the development of Assunpink Way. There are over 100 articles detailing different aspects of the project, covering public hearings, board meetings, and official announcements. The newspaper also features a couple dozen letters to the editor from city residents pertaining to the highway’s construction, providing a valuable insight into how more locals viewed the situation. An important disclaimer, however, is warranted: the Times was adamantly pro-highway, as is evident throughout their editorials. Some stories from the perspective of the Merchants, for instance, could be found buried 15 pages into the paper while stories featuring the advancement of the project in the bureaucracy were almost always on the front page, above the fold. (The Trenton Evening Times was also a sponsor of another of my primary sources – The Trenton Story.) However, the Times is a reliable source in outlining the narrative of the highway’s development – from inception to completion.

Tags: Roads, Parks, Water, Business, Class