From its humble beginnings as a strip of wilderness just west of William Penn's "greene country towne," Powelton Village has seen a rise in both prestige and activism since its inception in the late 17th century. An aristocratic estate at its founding, Powelton has found itself in a state of constant evolution, from the summer retreat of George Washington to the home of Pennsylvania's agricultural fair and from the playground of the elite to a hotbed of activism. In spite of, or because of, its mixed history, Powelton Village is unique among Philadelphia neighborhoods, both in its eclectic diversity and in its historic roots to the founding of the nation. Today, Powelton serves as a home to academics and their students, to the urban poor of Philadelphia, and to the elites of the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University.
On the banks of the Mystic River, the Connecticut community of Mystic has a maritime history that stretches back beyond the founding of the nation. Starting as a Native American settlement, the area switched hands--first to the Dutch, then to the English--before finally becoming a part of the United States after the Revolutionary War. Mystic's location made it an ideal port for coastal commerce. As the nation grew, so did Mystic, with the village using its unique location to serve both the coastal fishing industry and the US Navy. The Mystic drawbridge serves as a reminder of the community's maritime heritage. In its current state, Mystic serves as both a cradle to some of Connecticut's oldest families and a tourist attraction for those wanting to sample vintage New England life.
Given that Ridgewood lies within 20 miles of Lower Manhattan, it would be easy to dismiss this little town as another New York suburb. Settled by Johannes Van Emburgh in 1700, this slice of New Jersey was a pivotal safe haven for the founding fathers, such as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Aaron Burr. In 1894, the State of New Jersey incorporated the area as a village, and what followed were 100 years of business and leisure with places like Woolworth's, the Erie Railroad Company, and First National Bank dominating the landscape. Today, Ridgewood serves as a home for those who wish to evade the city life of the boroughs. With its distinct mix of history and comfort, Ridgewood is unique in comparison to other towns in New Jersey and a fine place to call home.
Nestled along the banks of the Susquehanna River, Muncy first situated itself within the dynamic beginnings of America as the center of action during raids and battles on the frontier. Following the American Revolution, the town prospered as the lumber industry profited from its bountiful mountains and waterway accessibility, leaving Muncy with a competitive legacy of commerce. When the Civil War erupted in America, Muncy became both a key stop on the Underground Railroad and a hotbed for abolitionist activity. This colorful history remains preserved in the architecture of the town, as numerous buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. These houses are not museum properties, rather the buildings serve as integral parts of the community as both homes and businesses. Opened in 1936, the Muncy Historical Society remains a unifying presence in the town, acting as a gatekeeper to the community's history. Today, Muncy serves as a portal between America's revolutionary past and the future of small-town America.
Elizabeth, the first capital of New Jersey, took its name from the founder of the English colony's wife, Elizabeth Carteret. The birthplace of several Founding Fathers, Elizabeth would use such prestige to position itself in the booming business eras of the 19th and 20th centuries. Its strategic location along the Hudson River and on the route to New York made it a hot spot of activity during the American War of Independence and the War of 1812. These same traits gave rise to Elizabeth as a center of commerce in New Jersey during the past two centuries. Today, Elizabeth stands as a multicultural metropolis, home to over 100,000 people.
When Stonington's four founding fathers first laid eyes on the bucolic shoreline inhabited by the Pequot tribe, it was impossible for them to predict that the future state of Connecticut would produce nearly four centuries of American history. What became their sleepy coastal borough flourished from a "stony town" into what is now known as Stonington. Fishermen, whalers, and sealers would lead a boom in the 1800s, shaping a lifestyle that still persists as a testament to the area's heritage. Stonington survived major wars, an economic depression, and catastrophic hurricanes to thrive as an intimate yet welcoming community that harbored major motion pictures such as Mystic Pizza, Amistad, and Hope Springs. The town became a haven for Pulitzer Prize poet James Merrill and sustained a 1990s tourism revitalization that transformed it into one of New England's most precious hidden gems. Today, delectable seafood restaurants, charming shops, an abundantly rich historical heritage, and a picturesque seaside ambience put Stonington and its history at the quintessential forefront of every excursion to southeastern Connecticut.