Uniting New Brunswick
This tour explores the memories that New Brunswick residents associate with permanence of place, within a landscape that is otherwise frequently changing. One of the purposes of this tour is to explore and try to understand which of these sites have meanings that are specific to members of the Rutgers community or to members of the New Brunswick community, and which sites possess significance to both. In terms of memory, to whom do the sites of the Corner Tavern, the George Street Playhouse, the Stress Factory, or the shops and restaurants on George Street belong? Steven Hilger’s interview, for instance, brings to light the idea of New Brunswick as a playground for Rutgers students, highlighting the divide between students and longtime residents.
This is not to suggest that the landscape is irreparably divided. Russell Marchetta focuses on community in downtown New Brunswick, and addresses the Johnson & Johnson headquarters and venues for entertainment and learning such as the George Street Playhouse. These two sites are frequented by both Rutgers and New Brunswick residents and present an opportunity to unite these two communities around their benefits and monumental significance. Spook Handy also brings a musical aspect of community to the tour, through his discussion of the Corner Tavern, a site of immense importance in terms of music and entertainment for both Rutgers students and New Brunswick citizens.
There is certainly room for more bridge building. Sean Hewitt’s information on the Civic League of Greater New Brunswick coincides with his opinion that the Rutgers community and the different communities within New Brunswick need to come together to make New Brunswick into one united community. In the past, this type of work was done in part by the churches of New Brunswick, such as Saint Ladislaus, which has historically played a crucial role in helping acculturate Hungarian newcomers to New Brunswick, and remains a monument to this community. Our tour hopes to bring to light the attempt to break down the barriers between the Rutgers and the New Brunswick communities, as well as the different ethnic communities within New Brunswick. Spook Handy echoes this view by suggesting that resources have been dispositionally channeled to improving the Rutgers community instead of improving the city of New Brunswick, as a whole, which is needed for a united sense of community.
Exploring this tour, we hope that visitors come to appreciate the benefits that come with a unified community that includes and addresses the needs of everyone, and which also celebrates New Brunswick’s rich history as well as its continued importance in the present and in the years to come.
We would also like to acknowledge and thank Martisha Dwyer, Spook Handy, Sean Hewitt, Stephen Hilger, Russell Marchetta, The Civic League of Greater New Brunswick and Dr. C. Roy Epps, and the New Brunswick Free Public Library for all of their help and contributions to this project.
|George Street Playhouse. Photo: Fatima Zamraki|