Published on January 15th, 2013 | by Charu Suri
2 A Day in Dickensian Lambertville, Antiques Capital of New Jersey
A city that transports you into an old fashioned, almost Dickens meets Currier and Ives world, Lambertville, NJ is surprising and quite beautiful. On New Year’s Day, Matthew and I hungered to cross one thing off our resolution list: to get to know our backyard better. Lambertville stood out (we knew very little about it) as a place for exploration because of the promise of the beautiful Delaware River.
And off to Hunterdon County we drove, half optimistic but quite realistic. After all, I had barely heard of it (which doesn’t say much—I hardly speak Joihsee) and wondered if there would be any charm at all. As we drove into the city festively lit, I saw cafes, churches, and a small but beautiful bridge leading to the more popular sister town of New Hope across the river. The Delaware was gray, stately flowing and alive with the silhouettes of gulls. One of them hovered over the river, like some Jonathan Livingston Seagull, philosophical and contemplative. He later brushed over the water until it left ripples. This could have been a setting in a 18th century English novel. We walked across the bridge so excited to photograph everything in sight and glad that the mantle of clouds did not spill rain. River boats were docked because of New Year’s, but they were still eager to take passengers in the winter months. Slipping into a Buck’s Ice Cream and Espresso Shop whose banana yellow walls were crammed with paintings done by local artists, I realized that this city’s soft charms and H.G Wells-like aura was not lost to its residents. The Roman Catholic Church practices liturgical music; at the café a man sat crafting cord rosaries; Lambertville is known as the antiques capital of New Jersey. You get the idea: it’s a period film waiting to happen.
I chatted with a few people in the café: most were chatty and excited for the New Year; yet others wanted to talk to baby Erika, who was bemused with the paintings. The Lambertville Station boasts a fine restaurant, where you can watch the trains go by on one side, and stare at the languid Delaware river on the other. And the city does have so much history to it: there is a perfectly preserved home of James W. Marshall, who was responsible for discovering gold, triggering the famous California Gold Rush. Marshall discovered nuggets in the famous Sutter Mill, and in 1816 his family relocated to Lambertville, NJ. We strolled down the streets, and took in the spectacular beauty of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, whose waters were was still as a sheet, reflecting the branches above perfectly. Some shops were open, and the local liquor store carried a fine selection of locally grown wines. We ended the day at an Indian restaurant, Mahraba—a fitting end to a lovely day. Sometimes, serendipity really is best.