New Brunswick was also the place where the very important Native American
Minisink Trail crossed the Raritan River. This later, as was the case with
many other Native American routeways, became one of the most important colonial
roads - the main overland route between New York and Philadelphia (today
Route 27). A ferry crossing developed where the current bridge crossing
is now located.
Several hotels arose to satisfy the needs of the overland travellers
and, indeed, the famous Americans of that day "slept here." The
archaeological remains of several early New Brunswick hotels are preserved,
for future excavation, under an embankment leading up to Route 18, which,
unfortunately, now separates the city from the river which gave it it's
New Brunswick was granted a Royal Charter in 1730. The city seal emphasized
the fact that by that time the place had become a port. The main export
which passed through New Brunswick was the wheat of the Raritan Valley,
largely produced on large Dutch-owned and slave- worked farms which lay
on the New Brunswick side of the river.
Little remains today in New Brunswick of the landscape generated by the wealth accumulated by the Raritan River Valley trade. There is a hint in the width of Albany Street leading away from the river crossing. Albany Street was so named from the fact that Dutch merchants from Albany had relocated to New Brunswick to take advantage of the lucrative trade there. In mid-eighteenth century Swedish naturalist Pehr Kalm commented on these status-conscious merchants having very substantial brick facades on their houses facing Albany Street but clapboard side and rear walls. We will be reminded of this trait when we visit the Low house at Raritan Landing and compare the front there with the other three facades.