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New Exhibit: "Changing Landscape of New Brunswick" in Special Collections and University Archives

Special Collections and University Archives, of the Rutgers University Libraries, is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition, "The Changing Landscape of New Brunswick," which will be on display in Gallery '50 of the Archibald S. Alexander Library from May 3 to August 15, 2002.

During the 20th century the cityscape of New Brunswick changed radically, especially in the downtown area adjacent to the Raritan River. The most enduring features of the landscape have been churches, and, to a lesser extent, banks. The scale of the city changed both "horizontally" and vertically. Blocks that once had a diversity of owners, architectural styles and uses, such as the area between Albany Street and the railroad tracks, now have a single owner and one architect and one function-commercial offices. The 19th century skyline of churches and chimneys was replaced by one of high rise office and residential blocks.

In some locations, a series of buildings replaced their predecessor. One example is the "Golden Triangle" between George Street, Albany Street and the railroad, which had an impressive opera house in the late 19th century and an assortment of retail shops, including a cinema in the 20th century. This area is now occupied by an imposing commercial office building. In contrast, the building on the corner of Church and Neilson Streets was occupied by the National Bank of New Jersey in 1907, Pottery International retail store in the 1970s, and, after restoration, by the Old Bay restaurant today

This transformation of the city's landscape has at times been controversial, with advocates for displaced residents and businesses and for historic preservation protesting demolition. Nevertheless, the city will doubtless continue to change in the 21st century, and it is interesting to speculate as to which buildings in today's New Brunswick will still stand at the beginning of the 22nd century.

This exhibition uses materials from Special Collections and University Archives, as well as more recent photographs to illustrate how the industrial landscape of the early 20th century has been replaced by commercial and residential uses. Featured are several photographs taken from the air over the last few decades by Professor Emeritus Dr. John Brush, Department of Geography. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Briavel Holcomb, Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, and by Michael Siegel, Cartographer, Department of Geography.

An online representation of this exhibition can be viewed as well at:

This exhibit serves as a companion to the "Who Built New Brunswick? The History of the International Hod Carriers Union" exhibition, currently on display in the Special Collections and University Archives Gallery on the lower level of Alexander Library. The Archibald S. Alexander Library is located at 169 College Avenue in New Brunswick. Gallery '50 hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information on this exhibition, please contact Special Collections and University Archives Exhibitions Coordinator Fernanda Perrone by phone at 732/932-7006 or by email at

Posted April 25, 2002