New Brunswick's wealth and origin as a port is also hinted at by a walk
along Neilson Street (King Street in colonial times) On the right hand (west)
side of the street (with your back to the I.M. Pei-designed Johnson and
Johnson administrative complex) are located two of New Brunswick's earliest
houses of worship. Both were rebuilt after colonial times but their location,
in the heart of the old commercial district, is the same. The Episcopal
Church (Church of England in colonial days) faces away from the street.
You may wish to walk a few feet along appropriately named Church Street
and view the plaques on the front of the church, attesting to the importance
of that church in the history of the Episcopal Church in America. The grave
markers in the churchyard are also indicative of the importance of many
of the parishoners. Walking back down Church to Neilson you glance at prosperous
nineteenth-century commercial New Brunswick opposite the church. Turn to
your right at Neilson and have a look at the Dutch Church.
The Dutch Reformed Church (now Reformed Church in America), reflects the importance early on of that ethnic group. If you turn your back to the front of the church, you will be facing what was a widened part of Hiram Street. The widened area housed a farmers' market which supplied the town with fresh produce. From here, over to Albany Street, would have been the center of historic New Brunswick. Indeed, the de-registered historic district for old New Brunswick was known as the "Hiram Market Historic District." One can visualize the importance of this church by seeing it in the center of the bustling commercial-port area and realizing that this structure would be the one dominating the skyline as one viewed New Brunswick from a vessel having come upriver. The churchyard of this house of worship is also of interest.
Of course, great changes to the Hiram Market area occurrred through time. In the 1830's the Delaware and Raritan Canal removed and made obsolete the port facilities as did the coming of the railroads soon after. As new immigration entered the Raritan Valley, and as the city grew, the more affluent earlier population groups could increasingly be found in the more recently developed areas on the periphery of the old core. Although much of the fabric of the Hiram Market area has been destroyed, another house of worship just down the street from the Dutch Church bears witness to the arrival of some of these immigrants. This is Poile Zedek (Men of Righteousness) synagogue built in 1922 and reflecting the coming of age of the Jewish community in the city, which was often involved with commercial activities in the Hiram Market area. Before we leave the Hiram Market area we may wish to note that there are several very appropriate places to satisfy one's hunger in the immediate vicinity.