This Week in New Jersey History...
- 1781 News of the British surrender at Yorktown on October 19 reached Trenton, where it was celebrated ''with every mark of joy and festivity...in the evening the whole village was illuminated.''
- 1836 A fire broke out in a Mechanic Street rooming house in Newark. Before it ended, fire departments from Rahway, Elizabeth, Belleville and as far away as New York City arrived to help local firemen and citizens contain and extinguish the blaze. The fire consumed an entire city block bounded by Mechanic, Broad, Mulberry and Market Streets, with damage estimated at $120,000 in the currency of the day.
- 1923 Pop Art painter Roy Lichtenstein, whose explorations of enlarged comic book imagery made him famous, was born in Manhattan. Lichtenstein moved to Highland Park in 1960, after securing a position as Assistant Professor of Art at Douglass College, where he was inspired by colleagues to pursue his pop art sensibility, resulting in a sold-out show in 1962. His works have been the subject of many exhibitions throughout the world, including retrospectives by the Guggenheim Museum. Lichtenstein died on September 29, 1997.
- 1664 After receiving the first English land grant in New Jersey, the ''Elizabethtown Tract'' of over 400,000 acres in the eastern part of the colony, English Puritan settlers from Connecticut John Baily, Daniel Denton and Luke Watson exchanged goods with local Native Americans and formally moved into the area.
- 1781 The American victory at Yorktown was formally celebrated ''with great eclat'' in Trenton, capped by ''an elegant entertainment'' in the afternoon and ''brilliant illuminations'' in the evening.
- 1886 New Jersey-born President Grover Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty on Bedloe's Island, arguably in New Jersey waters. The ceremony was observed by thousands of people on the New Jersey shore and an artillery salute was fired at the Jersey City Yacht Club.
- 1906 A three-car train of the West Jersey Seashore Atlantic Railroad traveling from Pleasantville to Atlantic City derailed at the Thoroughfare Bridge, which had apparently not closed properly after allowing a fishing boat passage. The hastily constructed bridge had no safety rails. At least sixty-five people, including the motorman, drowned.
- 1940 President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Newark in the course of his reelection campaign. A large crowd of enthusiastic supporters mobbed the president's ''long official parade of automobiles,'' collapsing the roof of one limousine as they climbed atop it. Roosevelt was accompanied in his car by Democratic Governor A. Harry Moore and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charles Edison. Jersey City mayor and state Democratic leader Frank Hague, who had organized the demonstration, was close at hand.
- 1988 Newark's Mount Pleasant Cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Opened in 1844, the cemetery is the final resting place of a number of notable New Jerseyans, including prolific genius inventor Seth Boyden, Governor Marcus Ward, John Dryden, founder of Prudential Insurance and US Senator, and Secretary of State John Theodore Frelinghuysen.
- 1929 Trenton celebrated its 250th anniversary with a massive parade and optimistic speeches predicting a bright future for the prosperous city. The festive event was held the day of the stock market crash that plunged the nation into the Great Depression.
- 2012 Hurricane Sandy crash landed on the coast near Atlantic City, producing an unrelenting storm surge that devastated the Jersey Shore, trashing homes and businesses and damaging or destroying protective dunes. Nearly three million people lost power, many for more than two weeks as the effects of the storm reached far inland. New Jersey National Guard soldiers and airmen were active in support and rescue missions, including evacuations of residents as far north as Hoboken.
- 1882 William Frederick Halsey Jr. was born in Elizabeth. Son of a naval officer, Halsey attended the University of Virginia nd then the Naval Academy, from where he graduated in
- 1890 The coal transport Cornelius Hargreaves, a sailing ship heading from Philadelphia to Fall River, Massachusetts, struck the Spanish steam ship Vizcaya, bound from New York to Havana, amidships eight miles out from Barnegat Inlet. Both ships sank, the Vizcaya in a few minutes; sixteen passengers and fifty-three members of the Spanish ship's crew died, along with a number of crewmen from the Hargreaves. Some survivors were picked up by the steamer Humboldt, on its way to New York from Rio de Janeiro, and others by the schooner Sarah L. Davis.
- 1938 The Orson Welles broadcast of ''War of the Worlds,'' apparently led some to believe Martians had landed in West Windsor, although recent research and analysis maintains that the actual number deceived has been vastly exaggerated.
- 1980 New Jersey Democratic Senator Harrison Williams was indicted in the ''Abscam'' sting operation in which an FBI informant posed as a Middle Eastern Sheik and offered bribes to a number of politicians in return for political favors. Williams was convicted in 1981 and, protesting his innocence, resigned from the Senate in 1982 when threatened with expulsion. He subsequently served time in prison for the offense.
- 1783 General George Washington formally received the news that the Treaty of Paris had been signed and that the United States was now independent at his headquarters at Rockingham, in Kingston, New Jersey.
- 1879 On Halloween night an opera based on Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was performed at the Jersey City Academy of Music.
- 1784 The tenth Continental Congress met at Trenton, and Richard Henry Lee was elected president. Motions were made to make Trenton a ''federal city'' with money appropriated to build public buildings.
- 1871 Novelist Stephen Crane was born in Newark. In the 1890s, Crane was Asbury Park correspondent for the New York Tribune. He later became a noted novelist of the ''realistic'' school, and his most enduring work, The Red Badge of Courage, is considered a classic American war novel. Crane also served as a correspondent during the Spanish American War. In ill health most of his life, he died in Germany of tuberculosis on June 5, 1900, and is buried in Newark's Evergreen Cemetery.
- 1783 General George Washington delivered his farewell address to the Continental Army from his headquarters at Rocky Hill, near Princeton.
- 1831 The steam engine ''John Bull'' arrived in New York from England. It was in use on the Camden and Amboy Railroad for the next thirty years and is currently in the Smithsonian Institution.
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These are brought to you courtesy of GSL author and Board of Advisers member, Joseph G. Bilby, who with his co-authors, James M. Madden and Harry Ziegler, have written 350 Years of New Jersey History, From Stuyvesant to Sandy (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2013), due out January 28, 2014 and available from local booksellers and chain bookstores, online book vendors including Amazon, and in e-book form for Kindle, Nook and iPad.
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