PRINCETON – Most Central Jerseyans who love a scenic day trip have headed to picturesque Princeton, where there are tons of eclectic shops, acclaimed restaurants and historic sites.
However, with the new book “Discovering Princeton: A Photographic Guide with Five Walking Tours,” published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd. and written and photographed by Princeton residents Wiebke Martens and Jennifer Jang, those who want to spend some time wandering the cozy municipality can do so with some guidance.
“There are lots of books on Princeton that focus on just the university or architecture or just the natural walks around the town, but none that were walking tour guides,” said Jang. “This is one of Princeton’s greatest assets — people come just to walk the downtown, so we thought ‘Let’s help them.’”
So they did. Jang, who works as a museum education consultant with local history museums, and Martens, who is a fine arts photographer, put their heads together to assemble a guide and photos that include big-name attractions as well as lesser-known views and attractions and nearby getaways.
“Each of the walks tells a little bit of a story and we selected the sights that were interesting but would also fit into the story,” said Martens.
Jang added, “We wanted people who love this town to be able to find their favorites as well as unexpected views that capture the town in all four seasons.”
The book, which includes 135 color images, costs $24.99 and can be found at Labyrinth Books at 122 Nassau St. in Princeton, several local Barnes and Noble locations, the Princeton University Store and on Amazon.
Jang and Martens, who have both lived in Princeton for about 10 years, met as neighbors and recently thought about creating a guide to the municipality after noticing a gap in the marketplace.
“We found that there wasn’t a book that covered both the town alongside a tour of the town,” said Jang. “The book is structured around five walking tours and you can carry it with you and do some here or some there. We thought, ‘There must be a lot of people who would want to learn more,’ and we thought, ‘Why not us?’”
To add to its use, the book includes the history of Princeton as well as information on available activities and attractions in the municipality.
Jang said, “It is a beautiful and useful book. It’s lovely enough to keep on your coffee table and also useful in terms of things to do and it has 300 years of history in it. It’s the guide that really gives you what you need to know in terms of history, culture and views.”
According to Jang, one of the can’t-miss walks of Princeton is the Fountain of Freedom walk, featuring the iconic fountain in front of the Woodrow Wilson School. She said that in the summer, it’s worth it to see the wealth of people from the university and the town enjoying it and intersecting.
Martens said that in her opinion, Palmer Square is a must-see attraction as the heart of the downtown area with plenty of shops and restaurants.
Through this project, Jang and Martens said they found that Princeton has a unique mix of historic sites and modern additions that make for a great combination of built environment and green space. In this, they realized there’s so much in Princeton that’s hidden in plain sight that visitors and residents might have overlooked.
So far, readers have agreed. Jang said that one reader said to her, “I didn’t recognize our town in your book,” meaning that the photos were showing the town to the longtime resident in a brand new light.
“People are very hungry to see what’s pretty and unique,” said Martens. “Someone might realize a sundial they have passed by has a story behind it or they might not know who has walked this stretch of sidewalk.”