The American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio, is the brightest museum I’ve ever been in.
From 1901 to 1940, the Johnson “Fast Line” electric trolley (a.k.a. the Trenton-Princeton Traction Company) carried passengers from Trenton to Princeton.
So far, only about three miles of the former 15-mile-long route has been turned into a bike and walk path. The trail is currently split into two sections, bisected by Interstate 295, with no good way to get over it on foot or bike. Perhaps in the future the two segments will be connected.
The southernmost section is riddled with large holes and uneven surfaces, with wetlands and woods on either side. Even though warehouses and parking lots are nearby, it feels more wild. Traveling north, the trail becomes more civilized before petering out near the athletic fields of Rider University and the highway.
North of the interstate, the trail runs through suburbs before entering Lawrenceville. Here, it crosses, but is not part of, the Lawrence-Hopewell trail. At the end of the Johnson trail is the former office of the Johnson Ferry, which has been restored (with reproduction signage).
Recently we visited Manitoga, a National Historic Landmark that is the studio and home of industrial designer Russel Wright. A prime advocate of what has been called “Livable Modernism,” Wright, with the aid of his wife, Mary, became one of the most influential and well-known designers of the 1930s to 1950s. His pottery, tableware, and furniture brought Modernism to the American masses (quite literally: his most popular line of pottery and one of his furniture lines were both named American Modern).
Together, they wrote the 1950 manifesto Guide to Easier Living which promoted radical ideas like “buffet suppers, one-pot meals, portable seating and lots of double-duty storage…They may be the inventors of modern grad student storage: wooden shelves on cinder blocks hidden behind a curtain” (Alexandra Lange, “Easier Living, By Design”, The New York Times July 23, 2010).
Manitoga came later in his career. He and Mary purchased the land in the Hudson Highlands north of New York City around 1942 and spent many years modifying the landscape, including turning an abandoned quarry pit into a swimming pond complete with a waterfall.
They lived in a cottage (still standing, but not part of the Landmark) next to the quarry. It was not until several years after Mary’s death in 1952 that Russel began building the house and studio (designed with architect David Leavitt). It was completed in 1960 and Russel lived there with his daughter Annie and her governess/housekeeper until his death in 1976.
Dragon Rock is a rare instance of Mr. Wright contradicting his theory of “easier living,” — his daughter, Anne, recalls arduous hours spent vacuuming the rocks and keeping all 11 levels in some semblance of order.Richard Horn, “Collecting Russel Wright” The New York Times August 23, 1979.
A warm October day in Asbury Park. The fog burned off in the morning, but then came back.
Featured image: Asbury Park Casino and Steam Plant.