Victory Parade

Chapter 3
This chapter, with the assistance of a series of recently taken photographs (Plate B. 34-B. 55), presents a very brief introduction to the present-day ground conditions and main historic cultural elements within the study area. This description is organized in the form of a perambulation around the study area beginning at the South Warren Street bridge over the Assunpink Creek at the western end, proceeding upstream along the filled creek valley to the South Broad Street bridge, passing eastward along the south side of the creek within Mill Hill Park to the South Montgomery Street crossing, and then looping back down to the west along East Front Street to the park entrance at the corner of East Front and South Broad Streets (Figure A. 3; Plate B. 1).

From South Broad Street down to South Warren Street, the Assunpink flows within a culvert that was constructed as part of major episode of urban land-scaping and demolition in the early 1960s. The creek enters the culvert immediately below the downstream face of the South Broad Street bridge and flows beneath a manmade swale-like landform to South Warren Street (Plate B. 34). It emerges into an open channelized creek immediately downstream from South Warren Street where it passes behind the Marriott Conference Hotel at Lafayette Yard and between the abutments of the former aqueduct of the Trenton Water Power. The "swale" is grass-covered, contains a small children's playground and is bordered by Factory Street to the south and the New Jersey Department of Human Services office building (Capital Place One, 222 South Warren Street) and East Lafayette Street to the north (Plates B. 35, B. 36 and B. 39). While there are no visible surface historic features within this section of the study area, there is a reasonable potential for buried remains relating to the numerous milling operations that lined this section of the Assunpink.

South Broad Street crosses the Assunpink Creek over a historic masonry structure that shows evidence of multiple building, rebuilding and repair episodes. The downstream façade of the bridge displays a large stone arch formed with a dressed keystone and vous-soirs and random laid, rough-dressed facing stones (Plate B. 37). A companion arch to the south is now buried beneath fill. The bridge is believed to contain elements of an 18th-century (and perhaps even late 17th0-century) structure, but its exterior appearance mostly reflects modifications undertaken in the 19th and 20th centuries. Major rebuilding episodes occurred in 1843 and 1870. The bridge is currently the subject of a detailed historical and structural analysis, pending decisions about its rehabilitation, restoration or replacement. On the east side of South Broad Street, north of the creek, a plaque on the brick perimeter wall of Mill Hill Park details one of many notable historical events in the immediate area – the ladies of Trenton's honoring of George Washington on April 21, 1789, as he passed over the Assunpink en route to his inauguration as the first President of the United States (Plate B. 38).

From the south bank of the Assunpink at the South Broad Street crossing, clear views may be obtained across town to the New Jersey State House area and the Trenton Battle Monument (Plates B. 39 and B. 40). Southward, the view is along South Broad Street, where a mixture of 20th-century buildings now mostly exists. A notable structure along the east side of South Broad Street is the three-story Norman Revival Van Sciver building that was erected by a local furniture company in 1931 (Plate B. 41). The site of Mahlon Stacy's and subsequent mills is judged to lie partly beneath South Broad Street, but mostly under the low brick commercial building at 100 South Broad Street (Plate B. 42). While this general vicinity has clearly been heavily modified over the years, both during the various reconfigurations of the mill facilities up into the mid-19th century, and then through the creation of the Assunpink Block and a more recent late 20th-century cycle of redevelopment, there is unquestionably a very high potential for significant deep-buried industrial remains. Two plaques on the side of the Assunpink Creek at the entry into Mill Hill Park, just down slope from the mill site, witness the former existence of the mill site and the role of this location in the Second Battle of Trenton (Plate B. 43).

Moving upstream from the South Broad Street bridge along the south bank of the creek, there is ample evidence of some of the later 19th-century reworking of the mill hydropower system that fed not only the Trenton Mills/ Eagle Carding Mill. McCall paper Mill site, but also the Eagle Cotton Factory and the Trenton Cotton Factory/ Wilson Woolen Mill sites downstream of the bridge. Elements of earlier 19th-century -and probably also 18th-century -construction may still be visible among the multiple foundations ranged along this section of the creek (Plates B. 44 and B. 45). The landscaping involved in the creation of Mill Hill Park in the early 1970s incorporated and stabilized many of these foundations in the course of creating new features like the amphitheater (Plate B. 46). The length of walling running longitudinally in the middle of the creek just upstream of the South Broad Street bridge is part of the support system constructed for the Assunpink Block in the 1870s (Plate B. 47). Numerous traces of foundations are present in the ground surface within the park between Livingston Street and the creek. These relate to various structures, including a late 19th-century electric facility, residential buildings and outbuildings.

The Jackson Street bridge, a decommissioned road bridge, is a Pratt Truss structure erected in 1888 (Plate B. 45). The bridge was fabricated by the New Jersey Steel and Iron Company at their plant in South Trenton. It is listed as a contributing element in the Mill Hill Historic District (Greiff and Ashton 1976). The stretch of the creek extending upstream to the South Montgomery Street bridge from the Jackson Street bridge has been extensively channelized. The river banks have been stabilized and the retaining structures hold back fill that lies within the former mill pond (Plates B. 48 and B. 49). There are likely to be archaeological remains of the mid-19th-century retreat known as Washington's Retreat surviving in this area.

The South Montgomery Street bridge, with its double span stone arch, was erected in 1873. It also boasts a cast iron railing fabricated at the James D. Field Ironworks. A row of late 19th-century three-story brick houses lines the west side of South Montgomery Street just north of the bridge and fronts on to Douglas Place, the center piece of which is an Italian marble statue of George Washington crossing the Delaware (Plates B. 50 and B. 51). This statue was initially displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. It was subsequently bought by the City of Trenton in 1892 and erected in Cadwalader Park. It was relocated to Douglas Place in 1976 as part of a bicentennial project that was intended to increase the focus on the nearby Douglass House, a five-times sited, four times moved, 18th-century frame dwelling that Washington used as a headquarters on the eve of the Second Battle of Trenton (Plates B. 52 and B. 53). The house presently sits on the south side of East Front Street, west of South Montgomery Street.

The north bank of the Assunpink between the Douglass House and South Broad Street, all contained within Mill Hill Park, is mostly composed of an open grassy space crossed by a few formal and informal pathways (Plate B. 54). A plaza-like area exists at the corner entrance to the park in the southeast angle of the East Front Street/ South Broad Street intersection (Plate B. 55). The western end of this area is probably of minimal archaeological interest, since a large department store building was located here whose construction and demolition likely resulted in substantial ground disturbance (Plate B. 25). Further east, however, are the sites of several buildings, notably the Atheneum theater, of which there may well be surviving archaeological remains. There are no surface traces of historic features in this section of the park.

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