“Elizabeth at the Crossroads” a self guided walking tour through Historic Midtown Elizabeth. This tour will guide you through all of the different eras of Elizabeth; from when it was first purchased in 1664 to the mid-18th century where Elizabeth was on of the most prominent cities in New Jersey; thus becoming the first colonial capital; and it’s 19th century transformation which turned Elizabeth into a transportation hub, thanks to railroad lines, highways and steamboat shipping. This tour will allow visitors to linger and experience an era of the city’s rich history and development as the permanent seat of government in the County of Union.
This self guided tour will bring you to stops like our infamous Boxwood Hall, which was home to the first continental congress President, Elias Boudineat. George Washington and Alexander Hamilton also visited this house. You will also encounter historical landmarks that have been kept up with the changing times, but they originated in the 1800s, like our train station and the surrounding architectural arch.
Available as a handy brochure and as a Smartphone Audio Tour. The many stops allow the visitor to linger and experience the City’s rich history and architecture. The Smartphone Tour is available in English & Spanish. Sign up for the Elizabeth E-Newsletter at goelizabethnj.com to be notified of the start date of this audio tour. The tour’s first stop is at the Elizabeth Public Library, but the tour can be picked up at any stop along the way.
Elizabeth’s First Presbyterian Church and The Academy of Elizabethtown (currently known as The Snyder Academy) traces its roots back to 1664, making it one of the oldest and most historic sites in New Jersey. The Snyder Academy was originally used as a meetinghouse for the first settlers and was built where the First Presbyterian Church now stands. Community meetings, worship services, and school were held there.
The cemetery that lays in between the two structures quickly came into being, holding the remains of not only the colony’s first governor, Philip Carteret, but is the burial grounds for many of the first settlers in the colony. Due to passing centuries, names of those buried as well as the descriptions on the tombstones have been tarnished. The tour of the cemetery will bring these tombstones to life, teaching you of those who have been buried there.
There are a few ways to experience this tour. To download a map of the cemetery, click Church Map. Or download their Free APP, FPC Cemetery, which will bring history to your smartphone.
Boxwood Hall, built circa 1750, was bought by lawyer Elias Boudinot in 1772. The young Alexander Hamilton lived with the Boudinot family for a year while studying for college entrance. Boudinot served as president of the Continental Congress, 1782-1783, and in that role signed the peace treaty with Britain. In 1789, George Washington stopped at the Boudinots’ home for a luncheon with the committee of Congress that would escort him to New York for his inauguration as President. The house, a center hall Georgian design, was built with a wing on either side of the present building. The remaining frame, interior paneling and floors are largely original.
Today, visitors can learn about Colonial life and American’s early aristocracy. Boxwood Hall is listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark property. Boxwood Hall is located at 1073 East Jersey Street, Elizabeth, NJ and is open to the public Monday-Friday 9am-noon & 1pm-5pm. Visitors should call ahead to confirm hours and availability of a guide, (908) 282-7617. Admission is free.
The Old Academy School, today known as The Snyder Academy, was attended by Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Burr attended the school several years before Hamilton. However, Burr spent time in Elizabethtown during 1773 while Hamilton was a student here, so it is possible, but uncertain, that they may have met at that time. Both men would go on to important military and political roles in the Revolutionary War era: Hamilton served as a colonel and aide-de-camp to General Washington in the War, and he later served as the country’s first secretary of treasury. Burr also served as a colonel in the war, and he later was the country’s third Vice President. In 1804, the two men would meet in Weehawken for the famous duel that ended the life of Alexander Hamilton.
The Academy’s principal at the beginning of the Revolution was Francis Barber. Barber served as a lieutenant colonel in the Revolutionary War. Barber lost his life in an unusual accident that occurred in 1783. He was riding on horseback to dine with General Washington, who was headquartered in Newburgh, New York. He passed by some men who were cutting down trees, and he was hit and killed by one of the trees. Upon receiving the news of Barber’s death, Washington is reported to have said, “Men of higher rank and more wealth may die, but there is but one Francis Barber.”
At Liberty Hall Museum, we bring history to life for all ages and all interests- from young children to seniors and groups both large and small. Liberty Hall Museum is the home of New Jersey’s first elected governor and signer of the Constitution, William Livingston. Built in 1772, on the eve of the American Revolution, Liberty Hall has been a silent witness to more than 200 years of American history. Over the last two centuries, the originally designed 14-room Georgian Style home has grown into a 50-room Victorian-style mansion. The site houses extensive collections of antique furniture, ceramics, textiles, toys and tools owned by seven generations of the Livingston and Kean families. Visitors will experience a guided tour led by a museum educator dressed in period clothing of the Victorian-style mansion admiring the various rooms and timeless collections.
No appointment needed during tour hours; if you have a group of 10 or more, please call at least 2 weeks in advance to book a tour. Liberty Hall Museum is located at 1003 Morris Ave. Union NJ 07083. To make a reservation or for more information, please call (908) 527-0400.
Rediscovering all of the historical value that Elizabeth, NJ has will take more than one afternoon! Plan a weekend with the help of our Trip-Planner tool and have all of your go-to spots in one place. When you’re ready, we’ve made booking a weekend in Elizabeth as easy as possible with our STAY page. Come discover what you didn’t know, you didn’t know!