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Hotel We Love: Woodlark, Portland, OR
Rose City’s hotel industry is booming—per the tourism board, some 9,000 rooms were available in 2018 and another 1,500 or so are estimated for 2020—and Woodlark is the latest entrant in an increasingly crowded field. But with a buzzy lobby scene, cozy minimalist rooms, and a convenient downtown address pulling in an attractive, youthful crowd, it more than stands out from the pack. The Story Woodlark comprises two character-filled buildings, the circa-1908 French Renaissance-style Cornelius Hotel and the 1912 Woodlark Building, a beaux arts–inspired former drugstore, both of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. Provenance Hotels acquired the properties in 2015, hiring architecture and design firms to rehab and combine the two distinctive buildings into one cohesive unit. The hotel opened its doors in December 2018. The Quarters The accommodations span both buildings, and you’ll find botanical prints from noted photographer Imogen Cunningham, custom wallpaper adorned with plants native to the city, industrial-luxe brass-pipe clothing rods, marble-topped consoles, cush velvet chairs, and handmade artisan wool rugs throughout the 150 rooms. At 230 square feet for a standard king to 665 square feet for a suite, Woodlark's spaces are on the smaller side, though they still allow plenty of room to maneuver. Chances are you didn't come to Portland to hang out in your hotel room, but the amenities are there when you need them: LCD flat-panel TVs, honor bars stocked with a host of local favorites, like Union Wine and Greenleaf trail mix, Bluetooth speakers, and incredibly comfortable down comforter–topped mattresses, not to mention pints of Salt & Straw ice cream on demand. The Neighborhood Centrally located right downtown, Woodlark is a short walk from attractions like the Portland Art Museum, Oregon Historical Society, Lan Su Chinese Garden, and Powell’s City of Books, the local chain’s flagship location, which covers a full block and holds some one million new and used books. The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall (portland5.com) is just a few blocks over, and that’s where you’ll catch everything from stand-up comedy to the symphony; for something a bit more rowdy, try the Star Theater (startheaterportland.com) or the Crystal Ballroom (crystalballroompdx.com), both of which book a good mix of contemporary acts. Shows aside, the downtown area gets a bit quiet at night, but you’re a quick light-rail, bus, or Lyft ride away from more exciting environs across the Willamette. The Food There are three dining options on the premises: Bullard (bullardpdx.com), a meat-centric eatery with an internationally tinged menu from Texas transplant and Top Chef alum Doug Adams; Abigail Hall (abigailhallpdx.com), a cocktail den with upscale bar bites (think: chips and smoked-salmon dip garnished with trout roe); and Good Coffee (goodwith.us), the bustling lobby café slinging espresso drinks, fancy lattes (matcha-lavender or maple and smoked orange, anyone?), breakfast plates, and kolaches inspired by Adams’s home state. On the next block is the Alder Street Food Cart Pod (foodcartsportland.com), a collection of vendors hawking a diverse array of dishes, and a few blocks north, Maurice (mauricepdx.com) serves pretty, Instagram-ready French-Nordic “luncheonette cuisine,” from quiche and clafoutis to smørrebrød and Norwegian meatballs. Some of our favorite happy-hour spots are also within walking distance: Try Little Bird Bistro (littlebirdbistro.com) for discounted drinks and a spectacular double-patty burger loaded with brie, or wrangle a few friends and make for Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen (luclackitchen.com), where the pro move is to order every $3 small plate on the menu and wash it down with a dealer’s-choice cocktail. All the Rest Woodlark features the Provenance chain’s signature amenities, including a pillow menu, a lending library of spiritual tomes, and fitness kits with yoga mats, weights, and iPads programmed with exercise videos. There’s also a gym on-site, with interactive workout mirrors and Peloton bikes in addition to the standard array of treadmills and ellipticals. The property is pet-friendly, and furry friends receive a warm welcome—treats included—when they check in. Rates and Deets Starting at $155. Woodlark813 SW Alder StreetPortland, OR 97205503.548.2559woodlarkhotel.com
Three-Day Weekend: Norway
This is, undeniably, the most beautiful place I’ve ever used a toilet. I should probably explain: In Norway, I often find myself uttering variations of “this is the most beautiful _______ I’ve ever seen.” But after years of exploring my ancestral homeland, I never thought I’d say it in a bathroom. It’s a nice side effect of the country’s oil-funded Tourist Route system, an ambitious program pairing Norway’s top architects with the country’s most scenic drives to design overlooks and bridges (nasjonaleturistveger.no). Their genius is also applied to roadside rest stops. Widely hailed as one of earth’s most stunning places—especially if you gawk at natural beauty—Norway’s fjord country has also been one of the most expensive to visit. But thanks to a surging U.S. dollar, plunging oil prices, and direct cheap flights on Norwegian Air, this year is the perfect time to see Norway at a discount (fares from $249, norwegian.com). With so much to explore, the best plan is to see Bergen…and then get the heck out of town, driving through fjord country and hitting every scenic view you can. Soaking in Norway’s Seattle Small enough to see in a day, yet chock full of great neo-Nordic cuisine, culture, and postcard-everywhere-you-look scenery, rain-drenched Bergen always reminds me of the Pacific Northwest, starting with its music. Norwegian acts aren’t quite household names, but the local scene has an impressive range, from Röyksopp (electronic pop) and Enslaved (black metal) to Sondre Lerche (singer/songwriter) and Ylvis (“What Does the Fox Say?”), all the descendants of classical icon Edvard Grieg, who play in small venues like Bergen Kjött (a meat market turned art gallery/concert venue, bergenkjott.no) and the adjacent large stage and intimate club setting at Lille Ole Bull (olebullhuset.no). I know this sounds touristy, but I can’t visit Bergen without walking through the colorful wharf buildings of the Bryggen, a UNESCO World Heritage site and 14th-century trading center. Dodging the relentless drizzle, I ducked into the expansive Bergen Art Museum ($12, kodebergen.no), then hit the vintage shops and cafés along pedestrianized Skostredet. They aren’t cheap, but Nordic standouts Restaurant 1877, renowned for its seasonal, local organic produce (from about $64 for a three-course meal, restaurant1877.no), and weather-inspired seafood perfectionist Cornelius (from about $48 for a two-course meal, corneliusrestaurant.no), complete with boat trip to its own island, compare to the best dining experiences I’ve had in any city, from New York to Copenhagen. To give your credit card a break, Marg og Bein’s award-winning local seafood (entrées from about $20, marg-bein.no) and Bare Vestland’s delicious Norwegian “tapas,” craft beers, and the best bread and butter you’ll have in your life (dishes from about $5, barevestland.no) offer quality far beyond their price. Once the weather cleared, I dropped everything to hop on the Flöibanen funicular up Mount Flöyen for a panoramic view of the city, fjord, and surrounding mountains (round-trip ticket about $11, floyen.no). Driving a Fjord It contradicts everything said about traveling in Norway, but I rented a car. Yes, gas is expensive, but with a scenic view better than the last around every bend, I needed to explore on my own. My first stop was Naeröyfjord, the narrowest fjord in the world, with 5,000-foot-high snow-capped peaks plunging almost vertically into blue-green water just 750 feet across at its tightest point. This UNESCO World Heritage site is best seen from the water (I opted for a kayak, but there’s also a ferry) or hiking along the 600-year-old Postal Path. Tunneling under the mountain took me to Flam, a town best known for a railway repeatedly voted most scenic in the world (tickets from about $42, visitflam.com). This hour-long train ride, switchbacking 3,000 feet up the mountainside past a dozen waterfalls, is a must-see. But so, on the way out of town, is the toilet at Stegastein—even if I didn’t need to go. A Tourist Route overlook, this doozy of a loo peeks over the cliff’s edge, thousands of feet above Aurlandsfjord, offering a private, scenic view. There’s precious little to do in Fjaerland, and that’s why this 300-resident hamlet is one of my favorite spots on Earth. The sleepy streets in town are dotted with tiny bookshops (some just shelves with an honor-system cashbox); above town in summer they’re lined with the sweetest raspberries I’ve ever tasted. Adding to its air of fairytale perfection, the only real lodging option, Hotel Mundal, celebrating its 125th birthday this year, is almost ridiculously quaint and furnished with family antiques (from about $163 per night, hotelmundal.no). The toughest part was finding any motivation to go anywhere else. Journeying through the Land of Glass and Ice Just outside town, I stopped by the Norwegian Glacier Museum (admission about $15, english.bre.museum.no) to join a trek on—and in—nearby Jostedalsbreen, Europe’s largest glacier, its arms still grinding inexorably down at a rate of six feet a day (hikes from about $33, jostedal.com). For more midsummer snow, Stryn Summer Ski Centre offers the rare chance to rocket down a 900-foot ski slope in nothing but skis and shorts (about $15 for one trip down, about $45 for one-day access, strynsommerski.com). The nearby town of Geiranger, another UNESCO site often called the “most beautiful place on earth,” offers hiking, kayaking, and ferry rides past waterfalls plunging thousands of feet from impossibly perched cliff-top summer farms straight into Geirangerfjord. Driving up the Valldalen valley, I passed through the spectrum of Norwegian ecosystems (fjord, forests, farmland, alpine meadows, arctic mountain peaks) and history (centuries-old farms and grass-roofed cabins to the new modern visitor center at Trollstigen Pass), seeing the country’s highlights in just 20 miles. My vote for most scenic of all Tourist Route overlooks, Trollstigen, or “Troll’s Ladder,” is a favorite spot for BASE jumpers. I watched jumpers in wingsuits plunge past the buses that climb the hairpin turns, as they tried to get close enough to almost touch one without dying. Doubling back down Valldalen, I found an understated architectural marvel: Juvet Landscape Hotel, a scattering of glass-walled cabins and spa unobtrusively perched among birch trees over a rushing mountain river (from about $190 per night, juvet.com). (If it looks familiar, you’ve seen the movie Ex Machina.) Built by the architectural firm Jensen og Skodvin without blasting rock or cutting trees, the cabins have dark walls, sparse furniture, no TVs, and no curtains—ensuring there was nothing to distract from the most impossibly perfect view I’ve ever had from a hotel room. Do I really have to leave?
New York's Hudson Valley
Ever since the Dutch patroons settled the green hills that flank the Hudson River in the seventeenth century, aristocrats have been building their dream homes along its scenic banks; today many are open to the public, offering a glimpse into the rarified world of America's early movers and shakers. Built mostly on the eastern bank, they cover every style in the book, from Gothic to Beaux-Arts to Federal; this concentrated wealth of historic architecture, unique in the United States, can easily fill a week's drive or more (especially during its gorgeous fall foliage season), but you can take in the approximately 130-mile stretch from New York City to the town of Hudson in as little as three or four packed days. In New York City, car rental outfits are plentiful; cut rates in half by renting at Newark Airport. Invest in a good regional map and head north on the Henry Hudson Parkway, which leads into the Saw Mill River Parkway and to Tarrytown, the first stop. From there, scenic Route 9 links the rest of the towns, though the Taconic State Parkway may be used when time is short. And you can save bucks as well as time by following a classic itinerary focusing on the historic highlights and patronizing the clusters of economical motels and dining spots where you can eat well for less than $15 a person. Note that most attractions close from approximately November through April, with some opening again briefly in December with romantic holiday candlelight tours; always check when planning your trip. New York City to Tarrytown (25 Miles) Head north out of Manhattan on the Henry Hudson Parkway, past white birch trees and the occasional creek tumbling over mossy boulders, the boxy tenements of the Bronx melting into inviting forests freckled with red-brick and white-clapboard towns. In well under an hour - but light-years away from Manhattan - you make your first stop, the pretty village of Tarrytown. This is Sleepy Hollow country, so don't miss Sunnyside (W. Sunnyside Lane, 914/591-8763), the riverfront homestead of that tale's writer, Washington Irving. This Dutch stone cottage "all made up of gable ends, angles and corners," in Irving's words, makes an excellent spot for a picnic. Adjacent is Lyndhurst (635 S. Broadway, 914/631-4481), a sprawling jumble of towers, rose windows, and steep roofs that's America's finest example of Gothic revival. This 1838 cross between an Arthurian fantasy castle and a setting for a romance novel is dressed in "Sing Sing marble" quarried by inmates from the notorious Ossining prison nearby. The elaborate interior fools our eyes with trompe l'oeil plaster passing for marble, mahogany, and flocking, a technique then much in vogue (and ironically more expensive than the real thing). It's pricey, but you do get a lot of sightseeing bang for those bucks at Kykuit ("KIKE-it," Dutch for "lookout"; 914/631-8200), a wisteria-clad stone mansion built in 1913 for John D. Rockefeller and which housed four generations of his clan before joining the National Trust as a historic site. Approaching on the shuttle from the Kykuit Visitor Center at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, the scale of the grounds is impressive, stretching down to the river and dotted with Governor Nelson Rockefeller's modern sculptures. The gardens, fountains, and vistas are worth the trip in and of themselves, but the house also offers great artworks, furniture, and Oriental porcelain, and there's even a fascinating collection of classic cars in the coach barn. SleepsSaw Mill River Motel (25 Valley Ave., Elmsford, 914/592-7500, sawrivermotel.com) Just outside Tarrytown, a pleasant, two-story red-brick affair with 127 rooms. Elmsford Motel (19 Tarrytown Rd., 914/592-5300) A more basic but clean and quite presentable 48-roomer. Eats In the small but lively Tarrytown downtown, inexpensive restaurants abound despite the upscale look. Top picks: Bella's Restaurant (5 South Broadway, 914/332-0444) Plain, honest diner-style food in a plain, honest setting; entrées $6.25 to $11.25 with bread, salad, and two sides. Main Street Pizza (47 Main St., 914/631-3300, mainstreetpizzatarrytown.com) The pizza's great, but the dinners ($5.75 to $12, including bread and either pasta or salad) are even better in this sparkling tiled eatery. Tarrytown to Hyde Park (55 Miles) The next morning, pick up Route 9 for the idyllic 25-mile drive to the town of Garrison, where Boscobel (1601 Rte. 9D, 845/265-3638; boscobel.org), a 12-room mustard-and-cream Federal-style frame house, was built in 1808 for a certain States Morris Dyckman upon his return from England (where, like many staunch loyalists, he'd fled after the British defeat in the revolution - not unlike King Charles II, who hid from the anti-Royalist troops of Oliver Cromwell in the English forest for which the house is named). Simple and practical, the period furnishings are a far cry from the overwrought Victoriana of some of the area's other manses. Don't miss the floor in the entry hall; a cloth painted to look like marble. From here, time permitting, two great side trips across the Tappan Zee Bridge are the military academy at West Point (845/938-2638; general admission free, guided bus tour $6 adults, under 12 $3) and the Storm King modern art center (Old Pleasant Hill Road, Mountainville, 845/534-3115; adults $7, seniors $5, students $3, under 5 free). Continue north into nearby Cold Spring, one of the Valley's more charming - though admittedly expensivish - towns (though with several decently priced dining spots). Stroll along Main Street, admire the neat Victorian homes and poke around the many shops and antiques dealers that have sprung up to serve the weekend hordes from New York. Another 27 miles on Route 9 will take you to Hyde Park (zooming through the sprawl of Poughkeepsie), in terms of mansions perhaps the Valley's mother lode. Its pi`ce de résistance is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt National Historic Site (Rte. 9, 845/229-9115; nps.gov/hofr), the birthplace, home, and gravesite of our 32nd president. Dating from the early nineteenth century, the Georgian colonial revival edifice (known as Springwood) offers a fascinating look into his life with furnishings, busts, and memorabilia. The first-ever Presidential Library and Museum is here, too, born of FDR's desire to provide future generations with easy access to the documents of his presidency. The museum offers thought-provoking exhibits ranging from his role in World War II to his White House desk to Eleanor Roosevelt (whose Dutch-style hideaway, Val-Kill, is also on the estate and visitable). De rigueur for students of excess, on the other hand, is the nearby Vanderbilt Mansion (Rte. 9, 845/229-9115; nps.gov/vama). The most opulent - some might say tacky - of the houses, the 55-room Italian Renaissance extravaganza was built by Frederick Vanderbilt (grandson of Cornelius, the original robber baron) at the height of the Gilded Age of the 1890s, a time when famous (and infamous) financiers and magnates rode roughshod over the American landscape. A highlight is the boudoir of Louise Vanderbilt, done up in a style I call "Liberace gone loco"-an orgy of curlicues, tapestries, and gilding. Use Hyde Park as a base for checking out lots of other attractions within striking distance: apart from the Samuel Morse home and museum in Poughkeepsie (2683 South Rd., 845/454-4500; lgny.org), nearby are several pick-your-own apple and berry farms (I especially like Greig Farm on Pitcher Lane in Red Hook, 845/758-1234); the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in Rhinebeck (44 Stone Church Rd., Rhinebeck, 845/758-8610; museum $6 adults, $2 ages 6-10, weekdays; museum/air show $12 adults, $5 ages 6-10, weekends), a museum and summertime air show featuring World War I aircraft; and the Omega Institute (150 Lake Dr., Rhinebeck, 800/944-1001), a moderately priced New Age resort east of Rhinebeck that from May to October offers summer-camp-style pleasures mixed with classes and talks on topics both familiar and far-out. Sleeps The Inn at Hyde Park (537 Rte. 9; 845/229-9161) Twenty-two smallish, plainish units in a beige woodframe motel across from Rollermagic. Doubles $55-$65. The Roosevelt Inn (4360 Rte. 9, 845/229-2443, fax 845/229-0026) Twenty-five clean-cut, basic rooms in a brown-shuttered building; doubles from $45-$55. Vanderbilt Motel (Rte. 9 at Linden La., 845/229-7100, fax 845/229-5312) A tad dated and no pool, but still a good value at $49-$64; 18 rooms. Golden Manor (522 Rte. 9, 845/229-2157) A charming Greek Revival-style motel with 38 impeccable rooms and a large outdoor swimming pool, run by a welcoming Korean-American family; doubles $45-$65. Super 8 Motel (4142 Rte. 9, 845/229-0088, fax 845/229-8088) Cute faux-Tudor two-story property with 61 comfortable rooms, $69-$100. Eats Cold Spring: Cold Spring Depot (1 Depot Sq., 845/265-2305) Possibly the most happening spot in town, with indoor/outdoor seating and a menu whose best bets are daily specials and pub food, served with sides or salad, $8 to $15. Cold Spring Pizza (120 Main St., 845/265-9512) A full Italian menu (ranging from $5.50 to $12) and quality pizzas in a simple setting. Hyde Park: Pete's Famous Diner/Restaurant (546 Rte. 9, 845/229-1475) Better-than-diner fare in a cute setting. Best deal: $7-to-$10 combo platters including sides, soup, and salad. Eveready Diner (540 Rte. 9; 845/229-8100) Cheerful Art Deco-style chrome diner offering home-style dinners for $7-12, including fresh veggies, salad, and bread. Best Wok (Hyde Park Plaza, Rte. 9, 845/229-0319) Simple but tasty Chinese take-out joint with a handful of tables; entrées around $7 and combination platters (with fried rice and egg roll) around $6. Hyde Park to Hudson (35 Miles) The northernmost stretch of our Route 9 itinerary includes some jewels of its own, including Clermont, a white-frame colonial-era landmark tucked away in northern Dutchess County, so we cruise north, sometimes on Route 9, sometimes along hilly country lanes bordered by low stone walls and fruit orchards, with quick stops along the way at the grand Mills Mansion (Old Post Rd., Staatsburg, 845/889-8851; adults $3, ages 5-12 $1), another Gilded Age robber baron's playground between Hyde Park and Rhinebeck, and at Montgomery Place (845/758-5461; adults $6, seniors $5, ages 5-17 $3), a lovely nineteenth-century jewel on Annandale-on-Hudson's picturesque River Road. North of Red Hook and west of Route 9 (518/537-4240; adults $3, seniors $2, kids 5-12 $1) is the oldest (1730s) and charmingly simplest of the riverfront estates - Clermont, the ancestral homestead of the Livingston clan. George Washington and other founding fathers really did sleep here; it was, in fact, Robert Livingston who administered the oath of office to our first president and served as minister to France. As if that weren't enough, he also bankrolled Robert Fulton's history-making steamboat - which took its name from the house and stopped by in 1807 on its maiden voyage down the Hudson. From Clermont, the last half-hour stretch of Route 9 takes you past more orchards and on to the once-roughneckish town of Hudson, a former whaling center that fell on hard times when that industry went belly up, and more recently has reinvented itself as the Valley's antiques capital, with pricey consignment shops everywhere you look and even the occasional celebrity driving up from New York to refurbish the penthouse (fortunately, most lodging and restaurant prices haven't yet gone similarly upscale). Take a leisurely stroll through the restored red-brick downtown, which mostly means Warren Street and antiquing. Not all of it's priced out of reach; some surprising, smaller values can still be snagged here. Two more local manses merit stops. In the town of Kinderhook about a half hour north on Route 9H is Lindenwald (518/758-9689; adults $2, under 16 free), the eclectic Victorian home and farm of Martin van Buren. Our eighth president may not be our best known, but he did help lay the foundations for the partisan politics we all know and love. The second house is one of the Hudson Valley's funkiest sights, perched high on a hill four miles south of Hudson and right across from the Rip Van Winkle Bridge leading across the Hudson to the Catskills. Commanding a view of the mighty Hudson slicing through wooded hills, Olana (Rte. 9G, 518/828-0135; adults $3, seniors $2, kids 5-12 $1) is the the quirky Persian-style home of nineteenth-century landscape painter Frederick Church that has caused many a jaw (my own included) to literally drop. Inside, the decor is eclectic but heavy on Islamic art. In a way, it's more about the setting than the house-which, while interesting enough with its fancy brickwork and Victorianoid turrets, is clunky in its attempt to re-create the subtleties of Middle Eastern architecture in a New World setting. From Hudson, drive directly back to New York City in two hours on the Taconic Parkway or the New York State Thruway, cut eastward to the Berkshires of Massachusetts on Route 23, or continue north toward Albany and western New York. The Hudson Valley may be a shiny touristic jewel in New York State's crown, but this is a region that just keeps on giving. Sleeps Warren Inn (731 Warren St., 518/828-9477, fax 518/828-3575) The Valley's best value, a former movie theater with 14 lovely, recently renovated rooms for $45 double year-round right in the historic district. Joslen Motor Lodge (320 Joslen Blvd., off Rte. 9, 518/828-7046) Sixteen fresh and impeccable units five minutes north of downtown; doubles $60-$70 ($100 with a kitchenette). St. Charles Hotel (16-18 Park Place, 518/822-9900, fax 518/822-0835) For a touch of class, this elegant, 34-room property, recently renovated, rents out doubles from $79-$119 year-round. EatsColumbia Diner & Restaurant (717 Warren St., 518/828-9083) Simple, honest food and value in an authentic chrome diner; seven or so daily specials (with sides) $4 to $6. Earth Foods Cafe Deli (523 Warren St., 518/822-1396) Freshly prepared, wholesome fare from $6 to $12 in a rustic cafe in the thick of downtown.
Hudson Valley Revisited
The Hudson River, once America's central transportation artery, tends to be overlooked nowadays. Weekenders from New York City and upstate residents choose the efficiency of the New York State Thruway and the Taconic Parkway over the Nines (as I like to call the various branches of Route 9 that ramble along both sides of the Hudson River Valley). This just means less traffic for the rest of us. Day one: New York to Fishkill Trying a new route out of New York City, I actually get lost in Yonkers. The mini-detour allows me to enjoy the back roads that hug the Hudson, which I can see through the trees, flowing on my left. Back on Route 9 proper, I decide to stop at Sunnyside, the home of writer Washington Irving. (The town of Sleepy Hollow is up the road.) Guides in period costume offer tours of the house, a quaint cottage on the riverbank; it's where the well-traveled author spent his final days. A quarter mile north I also pop in to see Lyndhurst, the grand Gothic Revival mansion of Wall Street tycoon Jay Gould, who traveled by yacht from his waterfront property to New York City. The railroad would have been quicker, but it was owned by his archenemy, Cornelius Vanderbilt. Highlights of the daily tour are Gould's Renaissance-art collection and the fine stained-glass windows. I stop in Tarrytown for lunch: a Portuguese feast at Caravela. Grilled octopus melts in the mouth, just as it should, and the codfish croquettes are rich yet fluffy. Heading north up 9, I decide to keep Kykuit, John D. Rockefeller's expansive family home, for another trip and move on to Croton Gorge Park, a favorite local picnic spot. The park sits at the base of the Croton Dam, which holds most of New York City's drinking water. It was built in 1842; until 1955, the water was transported to the city via the Croton Aqueduct. Just past Peekskill, Route 9 splits into two parts. I take 9D, which runs along the river, rather than 9 proper, which takes a faster inland path north. Where's that Beatles CD when I need it? I'm on a long and winding road, beside granite cliffs. With a bit of imagination, this could be the Italian Alps. The tricky part ends at Bear Mountain Bridge, which crosses the Hudson at the place where American Revolutionary forces blocked the path of the British fleet with a giant iron chain. From here it's only a half-hour drive to Cold Spring. I putter in and out of the knickknack shops of a Main Street that runs steeply toward the river - it really should be turned into a giant skateboarding park--and I take stock of the Lower Hudson's east side over farfalle al limone and a glass of Cabernet at Cathryn's Tuscan Grill. Cold Spring has a number of B&Bs, but the Courtyard by Marriott, a few miles north in Fishkill, puts me closer to Beacon, the next day's first destination. Day two: Fishkill to Rhinebeck "This place is changing overnight," says the teenager in the Chthonic Clash Coffeehouse as he fixes me a latte. "Some locals don't like it, but I say the quicker the better." Named after Mount Beacon, where colonists lit fires to warn of British troops during the Revolutionary War, the town of Beacon has been reborn thanks to the opening last year of Dia:Beacon, one of the most impressive art galleries in the country. Inhabiting a sprawling 1929 Nabisco factory, the airy 240,000-square-foot space (much of it lit by skylights) is perfect for viewing large art installations. The museum is home to pieces by 22 artists, including Andy Warhol, whose 1978 Shadows is a single work on 72 canvases, and Richard Serra, represented by seven gorgeous sculptures. You do a lot of walking at Dia, and by the end I'm hungry. I head into town for a taste of the old Beacon--bacon and eggs at the wonderfully gaudy Yankee Clipper Diner, a recently renovated downtown institution. Browsing the galleries and antiques shops that are contributing to the town's renaissance, I have no luck in my perpetual search for vintage gas station signs. But there's consolation in the excellent apple pie at the Upper Crust Café and Bakery. Up next is Hyde Park. The town is dominated by the 290-acre National Historic Site built around Franklin Delano Roosevelt's family house and the separate house built for Eleanor Roosevelt a few miles east of Route 9. FDR's father bought the family home, Springwood, in 1867. Visitors can view the house, FDR's grave site, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum, which includes some 44,000 books along with his White House desk and chair. The late-afternoon light is fading slightly as I drive out of the Roosevelt site, so I put my foot to the floor. There's a piece of Hudson Valley history that I really want to catch - the ostentatious estate of Frederick William Vanderbilt, also in Hyde Park. Built in 1899, the 54-room Vanderbilt Mansion was meant to evoke European nobility, and the approach certainly feels like you've entered a royal estate. I'm too late for the house tour, but the grounds are lovely. As the sun begins to set over the western banks of the Hudson, the light casts an orange glow all around. After so much local history, a motel really won't cut it. Nearby Rhinebeck, a sophisticated town in its own right, is home to the Beekman Arms, a favorite resting place and watering hole for the weary traveler since 1766. The smell of cooking food and a roaring open fire greet you on arrival. Day three: Rhinebeck to New Paltz It's time to cross the river. The Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge offers clear views both north and south-this far upstream, the river is still over half a mile wide. Saugerties is another of those cute antiquing towns that seem to pop up every 30 miles along this part of the valley. It also has an excellent little café and deli called Ann Marie's. But Saugerties' most extraordinary attraction, Opus 40, is a few miles outside the town limits, in the foothills of the Catskills. Harvey Fite, a devotee of Mayan architecture, spent 37 years working with hand-powered tools to create a six-and-a-half-acre composition of bluestone ramps, terraces, pools, and fountains, with a nine-ton monolith as its centerpiece. He died in 1976, but the sculpture and a museum dedicated to his work are open from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. The road down from Opus 40 is narrow and winding, so it comes as some relief to get back on 9W, on the western side of the Hudson. At Kingston, I cut inland on Route 32. I'm headed to New Paltz and one of the region's most impressive landmarks. A 251-room Victorian castle on Lake Mohonk in the Shawangunk Mountains, the Mohonk Mountain House was a getaway destination for Teddy Roosevelt and Andrew Carnegie, among others. Today it's an exclusive retreat far beyond my budget. But you can buy a day pass to the grounds for $15 ($11 for kids) and spend the afternoon wandering. Day four: New Paltz to New York It takes about 25 minutes to get back to 9W from New Paltz, but from that point on, the road is right by the river. This part of the valley is wine country - at least six vineyards lie between New Paltz and Newburgh, and most offer tours and tastings. I turn right off Route 9 just south of Marlboro and head up a steep hill to Benmarl Winery, site of America's oldest vineyard. A rugged driveway leads to the main house, also the home of owner Mark Miller, who in the '50s and '60s was an illustrator for romance magazines and novels. Miller offers a lively narrative as he guides you through the cellars and a gallery devoted to his former profession. He might even join in a tasting of his trademark Chardonnay and Zinfandel. Leaving Benmarl, I drive into Newburgh, toward the newly renovated waterfront. Newburgh Landing is part of a $1.8 million state-funded scheme to tidy up the Hudson River. It's home to a number of cool cafés and restaurants. I choose Café Pitti, a brick-oven pizza joint with outdoor seating and a fine view of Dia:Beacon across the river. An espresso and some raspberry gelato make the afternoon even more enjoyable and prepare me nicely for the final drive back into New York City. I make quick time through West Point, hop on to the Palisades Parkway, and zip back down to the George Washington Bridge and New York City, stopping just once more to marvel at the tall, sheer vertical drop of the ancient Palisades cliffs that tower over the Hudson below. Finding your way From JFK airport, head north on the Van Wyck Expressway to the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge. After crossing, take 678 north to the Cross Bronx Expressway west; exit at Route 9 north. From LaGuardia, take the Grand Central Parkway to the Triborough Bridge. Go north on the Major Deegan (I-87), then west on the Cross Bronx Expressway to Route 9 north. From Newark, drive north on the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95). Cross the George Washington Bridge and exit at Route 9 north. 1. New York to Fishkill, 64 miles If you're driving from Manhattan, take the Henry Hudson Parkway to Route 9 north. Continue through Yonkers, Tarrytown, and Sleepy Hollow. At Peekskill, switch to 9D north, which leads to Cold Spring. Continue north on 9D. At Beacon get on 82 north to Fishkill. 2. Fishkill to Rhinebeck, 28 miles From Fishkill, get on I-84 north and take it to Beacon. After Dia:Beacon, continue north on 9D, which rejoins 9 just north of Wappingers Falls, then skirts Poughkeepsie, before winding up at Hyde Park and Rhinebeck. 3. Rhinebeck to New Paltz, 50 miles In Rhinebeck, take 9 north to 9G north. Go west on Route 199 over the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge; 9W north leads to Saugerties. For Opus 40, from the New York State Thruway at Saugerties, get on Route 212 west toward Woodstock. From the light at the Hess gas station, go 1.6 miles to a fork; turn left onto Fishcreek Road. After 2.4 miles, turn right at the stop sign onto Highwoods Road. After a half mile, turn right onto Fite Road; it ends at Opus 40's entrance. Leaving, take Glasco Turnpike east to 9W south. At Kingston, go south on Route 32 to New Paltz. Stay at the Econo Lodge. 4. New Paltz to New York, 95 miles From New Paltz, take 299 east to 9W south. It goes through Marlboro to Newburgh, and eventually to the Palisades Parkway south to the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan.
America's 10 Grandest Mansions
Kykuit in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. Built in 1913 by John D. Rockefeller, flush with Standard Oil's real-life Monopoly money. What you'll see With soaring views of the Hudson River Valley toward Manhattan, 25 miles to the South, Kykuit (pronounced kye-cut) is the hilltop centerpiece of Pocantico Hills, the 2,000-acre playground of the Rockefeller dynasty. The house itself is more architectural mishmash than streamlined marvel, with a neoclassical façade and romantic details on the interior. The real treasure is grandson Nelson's extensive modern art collection, including striking wool tapestries by Picasso, as well as important works by David Smith, Louise Nevelson, and Henry Moore, two of whose sculptures adorn formal gardens designed by William Welles Bosworth. Pssst! The books lining one wall of the study are fake. Nelson, vice president in the 1970s, wasn't much of a reader--he preferred to unwind by watching TV shows like All in the Family. Tip The three-hour Estate Life Tour ($34) adds an exploration of the nearby Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, John D. Rockefeller Jr.'s 80-acre preserve of woodlands and sustainable farming (and home to chef Dan Barber's expensive but splurgeworthy Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant). The Hudson Valley website has info on the estate as well as train and boat tickets from Manhattan. Info: 914/631-9491, hudsonvalley.org, $19. The Breakers in Newport, R.I. Built in 1895 by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, grandson of railroad tycoon Commodore Vanderbilt. What you'll see During the Gilded Age, Society summered in Newport, leaving behind several glorious mansions. The Breakers is considered the most magnificent, in part due to Cornelius' wife, Alice, trying to one-up her sister-in-law Alva's nearby Marble House. Family architect Richard Morris Hunt designed the 70-room palazzo after those found in 16th-century Genoa. Highlights include a 2,400-square-foot, two-story dining room in alabaster and gilded bronze, and the music room, constructed (furnishings and all) by artisans in Paris and reassembled on site. A behind-the-scenes tour, debuting in August, opens up the labyrinthine basement, among other areas. Pssst! Cornelius died only four years after construction was completed, following a stroke suffered while fighting with one of his sons over money. Tip The Gilded Age Experience ticket includes access to four other properties: The Elms, Marble House, Rosecliff, and Green Animals Topiary Garden ($31). Info: 401/847-1000, newportmansions.org, $15. Shangri La in Honolulu, Hawaii Built in 1938 by tobacco heiress and surfer girl Doris Duke. What you'll see Oahu's most elaborate Spanish Mediterranean-inspired structure is where Doris Duke, known then as "the richest girl in America," hid from her money-grubbing relatives, and amassed one of America's premier Islamic art collections. Throughout much of her turbulent life, Duke found solace studying the order and symmetry of Near Eastern design (and purchasing it, of course). Highlights among her 3,500 objects: a 13th-century Iranian mihrab, or prayer niche, and an entire wooden room, carved and painted in Syria in the mid-19th century. Pssst! At age 75, Duke adopted a 35-year-old Hare Krishna, Chandi Heffner. The two became estranged when Duke suspected Heffner of poisoning her food. Claiming a toothache, Duke said she was going to the dentist, but instead hopped her 737 to L.A. and had her staff boot Heffner from Shangri La. Tip Opened to the public in 2002, Shangri La is still a tough ticket--advance reservations are a must (the 8:30 a.m. tour is the easiest to book last minute). There's also an extensive one on the website. Info: Tours begin at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, 866/385-3849, shangrilahawaii.org, $25. Fair Lane in Dearborn, Mich. Built in 1915 by Auto baron, curmudgeon, and old-time dance enthusiast Henry Ford. What you'll see The 56-room, prairie style-cum-English Gothic mansion, designed by architect William Van Tine, reveals Ford's taste for rustic hominess with cypress, oak, and walnut walls and staircases. The controversial industrialist retreated here as assembly lines at nearby Highland Park churned off scores of Model Ts every hour, minting him millions. Ford felt most at home in spaces beyond the main house--particularly the Thomas Edison--designed powerhouse, which generated hydroelectric power from the Rouge River and made the property self-sufficient; and of course, the garage, which holds six of Ford's historic car models. Pssst! In his old age, Ford became increasingly eccentric. It's been said that he cultivated rust on old razors in his bathroom sink to use as a hair restorative. Tip The on-site restaurant, in the room that once housed the Fords' 50-foot lap pool, is only open weekdays for lunch. Several dishes include soybeans, a crop Ford was fanatic about. Info: 313/593-5590, henryfordestate.org, $10. Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston, S.C. Built in 1817 by John Robinson, a shipping merchant, who sold it to cotton tradesman William Aiken Sr. in 1827. What you'll see The prosperous Aikens clan kept the estate in the family for nearly 150 years. Over the decades, as the family's numbers dwindled, they sealed up rooms they no longer needed, beginning in 1898. Thus, much of the house remained untouched to this day: Faded paints, peeling wallpaper, worn carpets, and gaslight chandeliers all lend a time-capsule aura. Many of the original working outbuildings also survived--including slave quarters, a kitchen, and stables. Pssst! In the first-floor parlors, the spots of gray paint on the walls aren't the result of aging. They're a remnant from the filming of Swamp Thing, Wes Craven's 1982 horror flick, parts of which were shot in the house. Tip The $14 combo ticket also gets you into the nearby Nathaniel Russell House, a grand neoclassical building noted for its flying spiral staircase and elaborate plasterwork. And don't miss Charleston's sprawling Magnolia Cemetery, the final resting place of the Aikens, as well as many other grand families from the area. Info: 48 Elizabeth St., 843/723-1623, historiccharleston.org, $8. Winterthur in Wilmington, Del. Built in 1839 by Jacques and Evelina Bidermann (née du Pont). But the name worth knowing is that of her nephew's son, Henry Francis du Pont. He was born and raised in the house and inherited it when he came into the family's gunpowder fortune. What you'll see Once a modest Greek Revival structure, the house went through several revisions until Henry Francis, an avid gardener and collector of American decorative arts, doubled its size in the 1920s to make room for his collection of 63,000 objects and furnishings. The collection of American decorative arts, dating from 1640 to 1860, now totals 89,000 pieces in 175 period displays. It's so valuable that 26 employees are certified as firefighters. Pssst! Henry was neurotic about maintaining the furniture. In the 1930s, he hosted scores of weekend guests; those he considered careless got lesser-quality linens. And he often told them what couldn't be touched: One visitor was rumored to be so nervous, she slept in the bathtub to avoid disturbing anything. Tip Henry took his flowers seriously; he maintained a weekly list of the ones in the height of bloom at the estate, a practice the gardeners continue today (call 302/888-4856 for updates). The nearby Hagley Museum, site of the family's early gunpowder mill, provides an explanation of how the du Ponts could afford all that art (hagley.org). Info: 5105 Kennett Pike (Rte. 52), 800/448-3883, winterthur.org, $20. Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. Built in 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt II, grandson of railroad tycoon Commodore Vanderbilt (and Cornelius II's brother). What you'll see Lest he land in the shadow of his siblings' palaces in Newport and Manhattan, this Vanderbilt took his share of the family fortune south--and outdid them all. Architect Richard Morris Hunt designed the 250-room French Renaissance--style château, a confection of Indiana limestone that featured early electric lights, indoor plumbing, and water channeled from a reservoir five miles away. Frederick Law Olmsted sculpted 75 acres of gardens. The public has been welcome since 1930, but in July, several rooms--including an observatory--open for the first time. Pssst! Not all of Vanderbilt's guests left bowled over. A visiting Henry James once wrote that the château was "strange, colossal, heartbreaking...in effect, like a gorgeous practical joke." Tip Asheville's AAA branch (800/274-2621) offers members $5 off admission. And the website has discounts--as much as 30 percent off--on the property's Inn on Biltmore Estate (from $179). Info: 1 Approach Rd., off Highway 25, 800/624-1575, biltmore.com, $39. Monticello in Charlottesville, VA Built in 1769 by Founding Father Thomas Jefferson. What you'll see Jefferson made filling Monticello--"little mountain," roughly translated--his life project. Construction started in 1769 when he was 26 years old and ended when he was 66. It's the details that are most intriguing: Antlers in the entrance hall were a gift from Lewis and Clark; a bottle-sized dumbwaiter travels from the wine cellar to the dining room; a contraption copies letters as they're being written. Newly restored this year is the 1809 kitchen, an upgrade Jefferson started after returning from the White House. Pssst! Jefferson considered his affair with slave Sally Hemings part of a therapeutic regimen using sex, exercise, and vegetarianism, according to Jefferson's Secrets: Death and Desire at Monticello, by University of Tulsa professor Andrew Burstein. Tip The Presidents' Pass ($26) includes admission to Monticello, the 1784 Michie Tavern museum and restaurant, and Ash Lawn-Highland (President James Monroe's home). The pass is available at any of the museums or the local visitors center. Info: 931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy., 434/984-9800, monticello.org, $14. Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Calif. Built in 1919 by Publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, the real-life Citizen Kane. What you'll see The 165-room Mediterranean Revival palace was designed by architect Julia Morgan, and was a work in progress for 28 years. Its proud owner first brought in the world, shipping in European treasures such as Roman tapestries and a 400-year-old Italian carved wood ceiling. Then he brought in the stars, hosting Charlie Chaplin, Joan Crawford, and many others. Pssst! On certain summer nights, after the tourists go home, the estate's employees (and a few of their guests) are given access to swim in the marble-lined, 345,000-gallon Neptune pool. Tip The castle schedules evening tours in spring and fall--docents in period clothing act as though Hearst had invited them. For contrast, visit the nearby town of Cambria, home to the poor man's Hearst Castle. Nitt Witt Ridge, a 51-years-in-the-making hodgepodge of Busch beer cans and other discarded materials, was dreamed up by deceased eccentric Art Beal (805/927-2690). Info: 800/444-4445, hearstcastle.com, $24. Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, LA. Built in 1839 by J. T. Roman, a sugarcane planter and French Creole socialite, as a wedding gift to his bride, Celina Pilie. What you'll see Two rows of 300-year-old live oaks line the quarter-mile drive from the Mississippi River up to the colonnaded Greek Revival mansion. (You may recall the view from Primary Colors and Interview with the Vampire.) Inside, guides in period dress--hoopskirts, Confederate uniforms--lead a half-hour tour focusing on the Romans' day-to-day doings, their elegant parties, and the courting traditions of the era. Afterward, visitors are invited to purchase mint juleps and relax on the porch and grounds. Pssst! The romance between J.T. and Celina may have been less than steamy. Celina preferred to spend her time at parties in New Orleans, while J.T. stayed home at Oak Alley. He signed many letters, "Kiss the children for me. Your Friend, J.T. Roman." Tip Oak Alley has simple accommodations in the late-1800s outbuildings--no phones or TVs, but there are flashlights for late-night graveyard tours (from $115, with breakfast). Info: 800/442-5539, oakalleyplantation.com, $10. Five more mansions that you may not have heard about Some will recognize the Gamble House in Pasadena, Calif., as the domain of Doc in Back to the Future. But design junkies are far more impressed by the overall American Arts & Crafts style: stained glass, hand-finished oak, Burmese teak. The mansion was built in 1908 for David Gamble (of Procter & ...) by architects Greene & Greene (626/793-3334, gamblehouse.org, $8). In Natchez, Miss., a town rich with antebellum mansions, Longwood rises above, if only for its shape. It's the largest octagonal house in America--a fad in 1860, when it was designed by architect Samuel Sloan for cotton planter Haller Nutt (601/442-5193, $8). Confederate General William Giles Harding inherited his father's Belle Meade Plantation, in Nashville, and built a world-class 1853 Greek Revival mansion. After guided visits through the house, self-guided tours take in the slave quarters and storied stud farm stable (615/356-0501, bellemeadeplantation.com, $11). At Lyndhurst, a romantic 1838 Gothic Revival castle designed by Alexander Jackson Davis, pointed turrets tower over the Hudson River Valley. Three powerful New York families lived there in the 1800s. The most famous resident was railroad tycoon Jay Gould, who preferred to take his yacht from New York City to Tarrytown rather than board a train owned by his nemesis, Cornelius Vanderbilt I (914/631-4481, lyndhurst.org, $10). Captain Frederick Pabst, a steamship captain turned brewmaster, financed the Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee in 1892 with proceeds from his company, which at the time was the world's largest manufacturer of lager. The 37-room Flemish Renaissance mansion demonstrates his taste for the finer things--including custom-built Louis XV-style furniture and 19th-century European oil paintings (414/931-0808, pabstmansion.com, $8).
See the Mansions That Inspired The Great Gatsby!
Have you got Gatsby fever? This week, director Baz Luhrmann's film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby opens with Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, the tragic hero who amasses a fortune in an attempt to win back his first love. As dreamy as DiCaprio will appear on screens around the world, the Oscar winner will be rivaled by his opulent surroundings. Fitzgerald concocted a fictional Long Island community of knockout mansions, swimming pools, and endless Roaring Twenties parties, and Luhrmann's film promises to deliver a typically over-the-top interpretation of that lost world. But you can actually take a peek at the way the real-life Gatsbys of the early 20th century lived on Long Island's North Shore, in an area known as the Gold Coast. Here, four beautiful mansions that inspired The Great Gatsby—and are open to the public less than an hour from New York City. Oheka Castle. This 1919 mansion was the second-largest private residence in the U.S. and has long been rumored to be the inspiration for F. Scott Fitgerald's Gatsby mansion. Built by banker Otto Kahn, the estate's house and gardens once saw guests that included the opera singer Enrico Caruso, the composer George Gershwin, and the vaudeville star Fanny Brice. Today, it is available for private events but visitors can call ahead and request a tour or an overnight stay. (136 West Gate Drive, Huntington, NY, oheka.com) Old Westbury Gardens. This 1906 home was built by philanthropist John S. Phipps for his family. The house is a Charles II-style mansion with a priceless collection of furniture and fine arts. Its 160 acres serve as an impressive botanical gardens, with more than 100 species of trees, gardens, and classical statuary. The grounds include a plant shop, gift shop, and café. (71 Old Westbury Road, Old Westbury, NY, oldwestburygardens.org) Vanderbilt Museum & Planetarium. This vibrant museum would be worth visiting even if it weren't the former home of the great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Overlooking Northport Harbor and Long Island Sound, the mansion is open for guided tours, and the museum's planetarium is one of the best in the U.S., with high-definition sky shows. The museum also features an observatory on clear evenings for stargazers. (180 Little Neck Road, Centerport, NY, vanderbiltmuseum.org) Nassau County Museum of Art. We associate major art collections with big cities, but here in Roslyn Harbor, in a three-story Georgian mansion that was once the Frick estate, you'll find a world-class collection of fine art, a sculpture park, the Art Space for Children, and a school for budding artists. (One Museum Drive, Roslyn Harbor, NY, nassaumuseum.org) TALK TO US! We want to know: What movies have inspired you to pack your bags and travel?
More Places to go
Somerset is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) located within Franklin Township, in Somerset County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the CDP's population was 22,083.Somerset housed one of the first Marconi Wireless Stations in the United States.
Central New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York; on the east, southeast, and south by the Atlantic Ocean; on the west by the Delaware River and Pennsylvania; on the southwest by Delaware Bay and the state of Delaware. At 7,354 square miles (19,050 km2), New Jersey is the fifth-smallest state based on land area, but with close to 9.3 million residents, is the 11th-most populous and the most densely populated. New Jersey's state capital is Trenton, while the state's most populous city is Newark. With the sole exception of Warren County, all counties in the state lie within the combined statistical areas of New York City or Philadelphia; consequently, the state's largest metropolitan area falls within Greater New York. New Jersey was first inhabited by Native Americans for at least 2,800 years, with the Lenape being the dominant group when Europeans arrived in the early 17th century. Dutch and the Swedish colonists founded the first European settlements in the state. The English later seized control of the region and established the Province of New Jersey, after the largest of the Channel Islands, Jersey. The colony's fertile lands and relative religious tolerance drew a large and diverse population. New Jersey was among the Thirteen Colonies that opposed Great Britain, hosting numerous pivotal battles and military commands in the American Revolutionary War. The state remained in the Union during the U.S. Civil War, and thereafter became a major center of manufacturing and immigration; it helped drive the nation's Industrial Revolution, and became the site of numerous technological and commercial innovations into the mid 20th century. New Jersey's central location in the Northeast megalopolis fueled its rapid growth and suburbanization in the second half of the 20th century. At the turn of the 21st century, its economy increasingly diversified, with major sectors including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, specialized agriculture, and informational technology. New Jersey remains a major destination for immigrants, with one of the most multicultural populations in the U.S. Echoing historic trends, the state has increasingly re-urbanized, with growth in the cities outpacing the suburbs since 2008. New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the U.S., with the second highest median household income in 2017. Almost one-tenth of all households, or over 323,000 of 3.3 million, are millionaires, the highest rate per capita in the country. New Jersey's public school system consistently ranks at or among the top of all U.S. states.
Bridgewater Township is a township in Somerset County, New Jersey, United States. The township is both a regional hub for Central New Jersey and a major bedroom suburb of New York City in the much larger New York Metropolitan Area, located within the heart of the Raritan Valley region. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 44,464, reflecting an increase of 1,524 (+3.5%) from the 42,940 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 10,431 (+32.1%) from the 32,509 counted in the 1990 Census. As of the 2019 Population Estimates Program census estimate, the township's population was 43,968.Bridgewater Township was created by Royal charter on April 4, 1749, from portions of the Northern precinct. It was incorporated as one of New Jersey's initial group of 104 townships by the New Jersey Legislature on February 21, 1798, under the Township Act of 1798. During the nineteenth century, portions of the township were taken to form Warren Township (March 5, 1806), Branchburg Township (April 5, 1845), Somerville (March 25, 1863), Raritan (April 3, 1868) and Bound Brook (March 24, 1869).
Princeton is a municipality with a borough form of government in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States, that was established in its current form on January 1, 2013, through the consolidation of the now-defunct Borough of Princeton and Princeton Township. Centrally located within the Raritan Valley region, Princeton is a regional commercial hub for the Central New Jersey region and a commuter town in the New York metropolitan area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the municipality's population was 28,572, reflecting the former township's population of 16,265, along with the 12,307 in the former borough.Princeton was founded before the American Revolutionary War. It is the home of Princeton University, which bears its name and moved to the community in 1756 from its previous location in Newark. Although its association with the university is primarily what makes Princeton a college town, other important institutions in the area include the Institute for Advanced Study, Westminster Choir College, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton Theological Seminary, Opinion Research Corporation, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Siemens Corporate Research, SRI International, FMC Corporation, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Amrep, Church and Dwight, Berlitz International, and Dow Jones & Company. Princeton is roughly equidistant from New York City and Philadelphia. It is close to many major highways that serve both cities (e.g., Interstate 95 and U.S. Route 1), and receives major television and radio broadcasts from each. It is also close to Trenton, New Jersey's capital city, New Brunswick and Edison. The New Jersey governor's official residence has been in Princeton since 1945, when Morven in what was then Princeton Borough became the first Governor's mansion. It was later replaced by the larger Drumthwacket, a colonial mansion located in the former Township. Morven became a museum property of the New Jersey Historical Society. Princeton was ranked 15th of the top 100 towns in the United States to Live In by Money magazine in 2005. Throughout much of its history, the community was composed of two separate municipalities: a township and a borough. The central borough was completely surrounded by the township. The borough seceded from the township in 1894 in a dispute over school taxes; the two municipalities later formed the Princeton Public Schools, and some other public services were conducted together before they were reunited into a single Princeton in January 2013. Princeton Borough contained Nassau Street, the main commercial street, most of the university campus, and incorporated most of the urban area until the postwar suburbanization. The borough and township had roughly equal populations.