Posts Tagged ‘MIddlesex county’

The Art Walk on the Raritan

Albus Cavus is a group of artists which originated in new brunswick whose goal is to reclaim bad neighborhoods and run down areas thru public art. When one says public art, one might think of large expensive sculptures or art by well known famous artists which you can;t get close to. Their idea of public art is art in the most unexpected places, something positive and uplifting rather than the graffiti that is so often associated with poverty, crime, and neighborhoods that have need for urban renewal.

In 2007 they attempted to transform the Raritan Walk, a 1.8 mile stretch of walkway along the Raritan River into one of the largest murals in the world. Local artists were invited to add their artwork to what was otherwise a blighted stretch of concrete. In this article the idea of Albus Cavus is discussed, including the art walk in New Brunswick as well as one in DC. The hope was to maintain it and keep it fresh, but sadly that has not been the case.

I visited it in spring 2015. The art was still there and its rather impressive. The walk however, was clearly home to small groups of homeless. The vegetation was barely in check and there was garbage and debris all along its path. There was also signs that the homeless were feeding a local colony of cats. I didn’t feel entirely safe, despite not seeing any obvious threat. It is desolate and far from aid should one need it. It also appears as if the art murals done 10 years ago have been covered with your typical graffiti. If one wishes to visit, the best way to do so is park at Elmer Boyd Park and just walk North.

 

 
More Pictures here

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Prince Rodgers Cemetery

Located in Bridgewater about 5 yards from a major road and yet completely invisible from it, lies a small burial plot of slaves from the 1700’s. 

 

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Located approximately 500 feet from Foothill Road and Bridge Rd in Bridgewater is a burial plot. Known as the Prince Rodgers cemetery, (it has also been referred to as the VanderVeer Burying Ground), there are a handful of headstones, several of which are broken.  Prince Rodgers was born in 1813 and was a slave of Cornelius Van Horn until being freed from slavery by his master at age 25. Other sources claim that Rodgers was a slave of the VanderVeer family. Completely forgotten despite being yards from the road, it sits between two homes one of which is owned, the other appears abandoned. Several years ago efforts began to restore the cemetery. Black plastic and wood chips have been laid down and the brush was cut back, but not much progress has been made since then and the weeds and brush have returned.

 

The Morse family plot

Cemeteries are for most of us a communal place. Our loved ones are laid to rest alongside hundreds of others, row upon row of headstones. On certain holidays you will find many decorated with wreathes or flowers as surviving family members pay their respects in a manner that is private and personal, yet also on public display. It was not always like this. Many times families would bury their dead in plots on their own property. As these (often large) properties were sold or as parts were sold off, eventually these family burial plots would find themselves hemmed in by development both commercial and residential. Sometimes when the last pieces of the family estate are sold, the dead would be disinterred and moved to some nearby cemetery. In some cases though, the plot remains untouched. One example would be the Mary Ellis grave in the middle of the parking lot of an AMC movie theater.

The Morse graves are another example. The Morse family was one of 80 colonists who, though a combination of grants and sales by local indians came to own nearly 1 million acres in what would now be the Careteret-Linden-Iselin area. They settled in the area in the late 1600’s 200 years later they still owned several hundred acres. and owned several hundred acres of land. John Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil decided that the Morse land would make an excellent site for his new refinery. The land was purchased in 1907 and was cleared with the exception of the family burial plot. By 1910 the faciliy was produced crude oil and 100 years later Standard Oil was broken up by the Sherman AntiTrust Act and the Bayvway Facilities are owned by Exxon. Despite changing hands and name several times, the Morse Plot has never been disturbed. Surrounded by a tall, large hedge it is highly sheltered, rendering it nearly invisible to the people who drive on Lower Rd and Stiles Rd. There are three headstones as well as a marker that tells some of the history behind the Morse family. There is a small ball park across the street where people walk their dogs and watch their kids play baseball. I venture few if any of them known that they are doing so a few dozen yards from the graves of some of the earliest European settlers to live in America….

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