Cadwalader Park Natural Area

Cadwalader Park Natural Area, Trenton, NJ. Source: TCM

Cadwalader Park was created by the city of Trenton in 1888 from land previously owned by Dr.Thomas Cadwalader. In 1890, Frederick Law Olmstead (best known for designing New York City’s Central Park) was hired to create a design for Trenton’s new park.

Prior to Olmstead’s involvement, the city had already started displaying animals in a “zoological garden.” After Trenton dropped Olmstead’s firm for financial reasons, the city added a deer paddock–which Olmstead opposed–on the west side of the park. Olmstead had other plans for that area, called the Western Ravine:

In the broader wooded valley at the west end of the park, Olmsted planned a series of pools that was reminiscent of the Pool and Loch of upper Central Park…The Preliminary Plan of 1891 shows most of the Ravine taken up by five naturalistic pools…with a connecting stream. The three lower pools are shown surrounded with dense vegetation, while the borders of the two upper pools are somewhat more open and more visible from the adjoining meadow areas. These upper pools have four beach areas where the nearby path expands to form a shallow wading area.

Cadwalader Park Master Plan, 1998

Much of Olmstead’s plan was not constructed, and many modifications to the design were made the city. A deer paddock was built in 1895, and a sheep house and elk house were also added. By 1906, the park zoo included not only nine fallow deer, but over a dozen other types of animals, including coyotes, alligators, bears, monkeys, and a kangaroo. Two animal barns were added in the western ravine, which are still standing.

Animal barn at Cadwalader Park. Source: TCM
Homes in the Hiltonia neighborhood overlooking the Cadwalader Park Natural Area. Source: TCM

The park declined in the 1970s (although the city’s museum, Ellarslie, was created in 1978 in the former monkey house). Deer were kept in the paddock until about ten years ago. As part of a master plan to restore Cadwalader Park, The D&R Greenway Land Trust, the City of Trenton, and several other partners united to restore the paddock area to a more natural meadow and wetland environment. Where once captive deer lived behind a fence, white-tailed deer now run wild.

White-tailed deer at Cadwalader Park. Source: TCM

Violet Strange and Phoebe Daring: Girl Detectives Before Nancy Drew

Stephanie Gorton Murphy writes about the girl detectives who predated Nancy Drew. Both Daring and the more conservatively named Mary Louise were created by L. Frank Baum. Violet Strange starred in a collection of short stories by Anna Katherine Green, who had earlier created the spinster detective Amelia Butterworth.

Frontispiece to The Golden Slipper, and Other Problems for Violet Strange, 1915. Art by A.I. Keller.

G-Shocks, Resin Rot, and Avoiding an Obsession

Browsing a garage sale, I examined a plastic bag full of watches. It was mostly junky stuff, including a lightweight piece that said “Rolex” on it, but there was also one Casio G-Shock.

Before it all fell apart. Casio G-Shock DW6800. Source: TCM

Not that I needed another watch, but I had been casually looking at new Casio G-Shocks, which have a reputation for toughness at affordable prices. This one, however, had been sitting in the sun all morning and when I picked it up, the plasticky looking watch felt like it was melting. I ended up paying a dollar for it, the price helped by the fact that the bezel surrounding the watch face cracked in my hand while talking with the seller.

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Louis Sullivan’s Jewel Box in Grinnell

The Jewel Box, Grinnell, Iowa. Source: TCM

The Merchants National Bank building in Grinnell, Iowa, also known as the Jewel Box, was designed by famed architect Louis Sullivan late in his career and built in 1914. Used as a bank for over 80 years, it now serves as the visitors’ center for the town. The building is a National Historic Landmark and part of the Grinnell Historic Commercial District.

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Early Images of the Classical World: Daguerreotypes of the Monumental Journey


Olympieion, Athens, Viewed from the East, 1842. Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art/Qatar Museum Collections (IM.314)

In the 1840s, Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, a French photographer and architectural historian, took thousands of photographic images of monuments of Greece, Italy, Egypt, and other countries during a three-year long trip around the Mediterranean. The daguerrotypes he produced are the oldest known surviving photos of these locations.

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Mercer Cemetery

The Mercer Cemetery in Trenton, NJ, was created in the 1840s. There were few new internments after the 1930s. Unlike the Riverview Cemetery, which is still active, no one has been buried in Mercer since 1973. In the 1990s, the city spruced up the cemetery, but it became neglected, landscaping and maintenance was deferred, and conditions within the cemetery deteriorated. Fortunately, Trenton is now looking to rehabilitate the Mercer cemetery, beginning with a recent volunteer cleanup effort.

Source: TCM
Source: TCM
Source: TCM
Source: TCM
Source: TCM