Nova Cæsarea: A Cartographic Record of the Garden State, 1666-1888
Sailing up the Jersey coast near the Navesink Highlands (Monmouth County) in 1609 aboard the Half Moon, Robert Juet, one of Henry Hudson's officers, recorded this impression in his journal: "This is a very good Land to fall with, and a pleasant Land to see."1 Since then, New Jersey has been called many names. "Crossroads of the American Revolution" has been a proud one. "Garden State" is not only its nickname but also its legacy and, possibly, its destiny.2
The first names, of course, were given by the native Americans living here—hunting, fishing, gardening—at the time of European exploration and immigration: clans of the Lenape, or Delaware Indians. They called the area that stretched from eastern Pennsylvania/northern Delaware to southern New York and western Long Island Lenapehoking (Len-NAH-pay-haw-king, "Land of the Lenape"). By 1740, however, after lethal waves of smallpox, displacement caused by European expansion, and their own migrations west, Indians constituted less than two-thirds of 1 percent of the area's population.3 In the Treaty of Easton (1758), signed during the French and Indian War, the Lenape ceded all remaining claims to land within the Province of New Jersey for the sum of one thousand Spanish dollars. Nova Cæsarea: veni, vidi, vici.
What was New Jersey really like 350 years ago? The Lenape left no written records describing their experiences. To recreate their world, archaeologists try to work their way back from such physical evidence as arrowheads and pottery shards; anthropologists, from oral histories and traditions. There is only so much to go on. The mind reels trying to imagine a land without malls and turnpikes. Without red lights. Without Atlantic City or Camden, or Princeton. Perhaps one could get a sense of it in the woods of the Pine Barrens or on the tidewater of Crosswicks Creek. From the vantage of High Point, the state looks remarkably verdant and unspoiled. And much of it still is—really. Yet, there will always be a nagging curiosity about history that can never be satisfied, even by an old map, an illustration, or a photograph.
The farmers and merchants named on the maps in this volume are long gone. Some of their farms remain; some of their structures, as we have seen, still stand. Numerous roads, parks, and boroughs bear their names. The place they called home is husbanded now by a much larger, more diverse population. Though the land has developed and been developed in ways none of the first Swedish, Dutch, and English settlers could have imagined, Victorian residents would still find the state recognizable. At least, it is comforting to think there are landmarks that can't be erased.
The legacy of the Lenape? Theirs is the most indelible of all: a plethora of place names that capture some feature or essence. "Land of good bread." "Endless hills." "Great deer." "Where the river winds through the valley." "Place where paths meet." Whispering them conjures a garden state of mind: Kittatinny, Rahway, Mahwah, Totowa, Tuckahoe, Secaucus, Moonachie, Peahala, Weehawken, Hoboken, Metuchen, Parsippany, Manalapan,
Piscataway . . .
— John Delaney, Curator
Historic Maps Collection
Princeton University Library