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Princeton Township

400 Witherspoon Street

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.

Historians of agriculture have noted that farming in New Jersey declined more or less continuously since the 1870's, and this is true in Princeton Township as well. As general farming continued to give way to special crops, marginal farmland was abandoned. Although the hilly areas of the Township were never completely cleared, forests returned to many formerly cultivated areas. By 1890 the owner of Worth's mill, located on the Stony Brook and what is now Route 206, suspended operations. He had operated it as a "convenience" to the neighborhood. Many of the old farm houses became inhabited by tenant-farming families

Increased traffic through the area led to the construction in 1804 of the "straight turnpike" (Route 1) between Trenton and New Brunswick, which drew stage traffic away from Princeton. In 1807 the construction of the Princeton-Kingston Branch Turnpike (Mercer Road-Mercer Street-Nassau Street-Princeton-Kingston Road) helped to restore some of the lost activity. In 1811 the Presbyterian Church established Princeton Theological Seminary and in 1815 built Alexander Hall.