Enjoying a Fine Autumn Day In Historic Salem City, NJ

The WCTU fountain in Salem City, NJ

The WCTU fountain in Salem City, NJ

This year I have been exploring the recent past in Salem City, NJ, considering how the South Jersey county seat changed in the decades after World War II.  Being able to seek out stories that create a distinctive sense of a place and the rich, deep, and varied history of communities is one of the fascinating aspects of my work.

I was examining governmental documents such as Comprehensive Plans and Urban Renewal reports, for most of the day.  These sorts of reports became popular after the War, as local jurisdiction assessed conditions and established plans to guide growth, and they are important sources for understanding transformations in a community.

But on this fine autumn day I also took some time to walk around and enjoy the streetscapes, architecture, and history of Salem City’s built and natural environment.  The historic district contains a number of notable eighteenth and nineteenth century structures.

The town was incorporated in 1798 as part of an initial group of 104 townships established by the New Jersey Legislature and in 1858 it was reincorporated as a city. In the 19th century it thrived, a place with a significant industrial base providing growth for the town.    Today the City is working to revive its downtown and leverage its heritage to promote tourism.

A residential area of Salem City, NJ

A residential area of Salem City, NJ

The East View Cemetery in Salem City, NJ was established in 1885.

The East View Cemetery in Salem City, NJ was established in 1885.

The old Salem County Courthouse.

The old Salem County Courthouse.

The Municipal Building in Salem City NJ.  Originally constructed for the Salem National Bank Company in 1888, it is an example of the Queen Anne style, designed by Philadelphia architect David Evans. In 1924 the City purchased the building for use as the seat of local government and moved it to a new location on New Market Street.

The Municipal Building in Salem City NJ. Originally constructed for the Salem National Bank Company in 1888, it is an example of the Queen Anne style, designed by Philadelphia architect David Evans. In 1924 the City purchased the building for use as the seat of local government and moved it to a new location on New Market Street.

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