Editorial: A Whole Lot of History in and Around One Small Circle

Just looking down at City Circle, one can see a whole lot of history.

City Hall Circle During the Bill of Rights Celebration 11/11/14 *Photo By Paul W. Wang

City Hall Circle During the Bill of Rights Celebration 11/11/14
*Photo By Paul W. Wang

Let’s start with the Historic Elm Tree in front of City Hall.  There was a battle to keep that Elm Tree alive. Planted around the 1840’s it has seen a lot of history.

In 1863 it witnessed the first flight of the dirigible Aereon by Solomon Andrews in Perth Amboy.

That Elm Tree saw the First African-American man to vote  under the 15th Amendment. Thomas Mundy Peterson was walking by City Hall when James Lawrence Kearny (son of Lawrence Kearny of the Kearny Cottage) asked Peterson to come up and vote.

We have a replica of the Liberty Bell in City Hall Circle. It is mandated by law that the Mayor ring the Liberty Bell at 2 p.m. on July 4th.

The Commemorative Arch was constructed in honor of the Bill of Rights Bicentennial on Nov. 20, 1989.

The Circle was initially known as Market Square. It was there that market and commerce took place in that circle.

Constitution

Constitution

There are many historic homes on High Street, recently identified by a marker installed by the Historic Preservation Commission. One of the homes is the Governor Larson Home. Morgan T. Larson was  Governor of New Jersey from 1929 to 1932. There was a horrible tragedy in the City that took place in 1921. The Eagle Hose and Chemical Company lost nine men (including his two brothers: Lawrence and George) in a horrific accident when the firetruck collided with a train going through town. Governor Larson took in 7 children left behind by those two brothers. He made sure that each  child got a College Education and was well cared for.

Larson was also instrumental in building the Outerbridge Crossing.

City Hall itself is where the signing of the Bill of Rights took place. It is the oldest functioning City Hall in the United States in continuous use. It was also a Courthouse and City Jail until 1718. There was a fire in 1731. After another fire in 1765 it was rebuilt in 1767. In 1789 the Provisional Assembly first ratified the Bill of Rights.

It’s on the U.S. National registry of historic places.

Next door is the Surveyor General’s Office. Built in 1684 it was a meeting place and record archive. Thanks to all the meetings, New Jersey went from proprietary colony to royal colony to statehood. It’s currently under renovation.

K.M. & C.M.

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Perth Amboy Calendar

MON. Jan 22
• City Council, Caucus,
4:30 p.m.
City Hall, High St.

WED. Jan 24
• City Council, Regular,
7 p.m.
City Hall, High St.

THURS. Jan 25
• Historic Preservation Commission
7 p.m.
City Hall, High St.

MON. Jan 29
• Special Public Meeting, RE: Discussion of Rezoning Ordinance
6 p.m.
City Hall, High St.

 

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South Amboy Calendar

WED. Jan. 31
• City Council, Regular,
7 p.m.
City Hall, N. Broadway

WED. Feb. 7
• City Council, Business,
6 p.m.
City Hall, N. Broadway

Stay informed! Attend public meetings. All are welcome!