Elizabeth, NJ was founded in 1664 and is one of America’s most historic cities. It has been host to many famed American figures such as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Aaron Burr, to name just a few. We invite you to come to discover Elizabeth’s many historic sites.
The Elizabeth River Trail highlights the history of Elizabeth with artwork from local artists displayed along its path. From the river, you can pop into the Elizabeth Public Library. The library stands at the site of the original Red Lion Inn where George Washington stopped prior to his inauguration as America’s first president.
Down the road, stop into Altenburg Piano House to admire pianos and history. Founded in 1847, it is one of the oldest piano houses in the United States with origins that go back to the Otto Altenburg Piano Co. from Germany. Next, stop by both the Belcher-Ogden Mansion, built in 1750, and the Bonnell House, the oldest house in Elizabeth, for some impressive architecture.
The nearby Snyder Academy of Elizabethtown is also worth visiting. With its roots reaching back to the founding of Elizabeth in 1664, the Academy is a vibrant center for culture, education, history, and economic and social advancement. Be sure to check out the burial grounds onsite, one of the oldest cemeteries in the state, where you can visit centuries-old graves for governors, Revolutionary War veterans, and hundreds of both free and enslaved African-Americans.
For those looking for beautiful old churches, look no further than the First Presbyterian Church. The church was built in 1668 and marks the site of the founding of Elizabethtown, the original name of the city, and the State of New Jersey in 1664. Also, plan to explore the striking St. John’s Episcopal Church. Founded in 1706, this church is one of the oldest in the country and is known for stunning stained glass, rich woodwork, and a historic cemetery.
As you explore the historic sites of Elizabeth, don’t miss the fabulous art deco Ritz Theater. Built in 1926, the Ritz is one of the largest and oldest fully operational theaters in New Jersey. Just down the street, take the time to stop by Boxwood Hall where the paths of many influential figures, from presidents to mayors, have passed over the centuries.
Elizabeth is also home to Kean University. History lovers can delight in the vast treasures found within its Liberty Hall Museum. The museum chronicles more than 240 years of American history and houses extensive collections of furniture, ceramics, textiles, toys, and tools owned by seven generations of the Livingston and Kean families, whose ancestors have played pioneering roles in the history of Elizabeth.
Any historic journey of Elizabeth has to include a stop at the important Minuteman statue at Union Square. This statue pays homage to the 15 Elizabeth Minutemen who held off the attack of 5,000 British Regulars during the Revolution. Continue your way to the waterfront to pay your respects to those who served our country at Elizabeth’s beautiful Veterans Memorial Waterfront Park. With a striking view of the New York City skyline, the park provides a perfect location for recreation, reflection, and boat watching as ships continually come and go from the largest seaport in America.
Elizabeth is an important landmark in American history. If you love history, plan to explore Elizabeth and its rewarding historic districts. You will find storied cemeteries, historic mansions, and beautiful old churches, all of which have special historic significance. And if you can, take the time to enjoy these sites on foot with the 3.5-mile self-guided Elizabeth at the Crossroads walking tour which provides an insightful look into Elizabeth’s history.