History of the City of Lambertville

Hunterdon County, New Jersey


Pre-Colonial period the Lenni Lenape Indians lived in the area.

1703 agents for the council of West Jersey purchased the land from the Delaware Indians as a portion of a 150,000 acre tract along the Delaware River north of Trenton. The council subdivided and sold the land to farmers and developers over the years. The portion occupied by Lambertville was quickly sold as two lots. The boundary between the two properties was called the "Bull line." I runs eastward from the Delaware River and cuts diagonally between Delevan and Jefferson Streets, continuing across Main Street to the Old York Road (now State Route 179)

1705 John Holcombe, the first resident of Lambertville (at first called Amwell), purchased 350 acres north of the Old Bull line.

1710  --  Stockton Inn near Lambertville built. 

1724 John Holcombe built the stone house on North Main Street that later became Washington's Headquarters. Holcombe established the Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead (now restored as a farm museum).

1732 Emanuel Coryell purchased land south of the survey line between Church Street and Swan Creek He operated a ferry across the Delaware River slightly south of the present Lambertville-New Hope Bridge. Coryell also opened a tavern and inn to handle travelers. (Both settlements-Lambertville and New Hope-were called Coryell's Ferry). Lambertville was the mid-point on the two-day journey between New York and Philadelphia.

1735-1745 the Lambert family settled north of John Holcombe's land.

1748 death of Emanuel Coryell. His 1,016 acre estate was divided among his four sons.

Revolutionary War General Washington and his troops used Coryell's Ferry. Captain George Coryell served in the New Jersey forces. General Greene stayed at the home of George Coryell

Before 1778 (summer), the Battle of Monmouth the colonial Army camped in an orchard at the corner of Bridge and Union Streets. Washington and his fellow officers were quartered at the Holcombe Farm.

1802 Coryell Street laid out and lots sold.

1802-1803 John Lambert (1746-1823) Governor of New Jersey.

1805-1809 John Lambert (1746-1823), U.S. Representative from New Jersey. He persuaded the Postal Service to open an office at Coryell's Ferry. His nephew, Captain John Lambert, was appointed postmaster and his inn designated as the post office.

1809 -1815 John Lambert (1746-1823), U.S. Senator from New Jersey.

1810 the Lamberts renamed the village Lambert's Ville. (This angered the Coryells, who thought the town should be named Georgetown in honor of Revolutionary War Captain George Coryell.)

1812 a wooden bridge constructed across the Delaware River and Bridge Street laid out. The Marshall and other early houses are located on Bridge Street.

1812 Captain John Lambert built a stone tavern and inn on Bridge Street (today it is a restored inn known as the Lambertville House).

1812-1830  -- Dr. John Lilly built his mansion at Main and Lilly Street in three sections. 

1814  --  the Lambertville House on Bridge Street opened to provide food and lodging for stageline travelers on the Old York Road (from Philadelphia and Elizabeth, NJ).  . 

1816 the Marshall House built. It was the boyhood home of James Marshall, discoverer of gold at Sutter's Mill, California that started the Great California Gold Rush. (Today it serves as headquarters of the Lambertville Historical Society.)

By 1817 Union Street connected Coryell and Bridge Streets.

1822 --  postmaster John Lambert changed the name of the city from Amwell to Lambertville. 

1823 death of Senator John Lambert.

1826 York Street laid out.

1830 charter obtained for the building of the Delaware and Raritan Canal to transport Pennsylvania coal to New York City. Beginning at Bordentown, the 44-mile canal went north to Trenton, to New Brunswick and on to the Raritan River. A feeder canal was built that flowed six miles from Raven Rock through Lambertville to Trenton, where it joined the main canal.

1832 Delevan Street laid out.

1832 Lambertville now had 100 structures.

1845  --  Phineus Hazen operates The Beacon newspaper at 14 Bridge Street. 

1849 Lambertville with 1,417 persons incorporated.

1851 the Belvidere-Delaware Railroad built along the canal north from Trenton.

1851 death of John Holcombe. The Holcombe farm hampered development on the north end of town. His estate divided between his children, John and Cynthia.

1852 the feeder canal widened and deepened.

1854 the Lambertville-Flemington branch completed.

1854  --  Lambertville High School built on Coryell's Hill (later changed to High School Hill). 

c. 1855 the railway shops began to build locomotives along with freight and passenger cars.

1860 the Lambertville Spoke Factory at the north end of town starting at Elm Street changed from just making the railway spokes to building the entire wheel.

1860s  -- North Union Street between Church and Coryell Streets known as "Commercial Row."

1861-1865 Civil War. The Lambertville Spoke Factory made up to 400 wheels a day.  (The Civil War Soldiers' Monument was erected in Mary Sheridan Pakr.)

1863 a house on Delevan Street blocking progress north suddenly burned down. Northward development began.

1863 the Lambertville census taken showing 516 structures and 2,851 people.

1864  --  Fleet Wing Fire Company organized. 

1866 -- the Lambertville Beacon called the northern section of town the "land of promise." Wealthy factory owners and merchants built large homes in the Italianate and French Second Empire architectural styles along North Union. Industries grew and flourished along the river bank and canal south from Delevan Street.

1867  --  firehouse for the Fleet Wing Fire Company built on North Main Street.

1870  --  the Hibernia Fire Company  organized.

1871 the Pennsylvania Railroad took over the old Belvidere-Delaware Railroad. (The Pennsylvania Railroad Station is now a restaurant.)  The shops were converted into maintenance yards and repair facilities.

1872  -- population was 5,000, thereby designating Lambertville as a city.  (It is still the only city in Hunterdon County.)

Latter part of the 19th century the Lambertville Rubber Company and the New Jersey Rubber Company organized. The former was especially known for its "snag proof" boots.

1877 the city provided water utilities.

1877  --  Lambertville Masonic Temple on Bridge Street built.

1885  --  the Hibernia Fire Company builds its fire house on South Main Street.

c. 1890 photo  -- shows the quiet, elegant North Union Street. 

1891  -- St. Andrew's Episcopal Church on York Street burned and then rebuilt as a residence.   

1893 the city provided electricity.

1893  --  the St. John the Evangelist Church built on Bridge Street (then the  largest building in Lambertiville).

1895  --  Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church built. 

1898 the city provided telephone service.

1900 population peaked at 5,120.

1901 the Hairpin Factory opened.

1903 a flood caused great damage to Lambertville. It even carried off their second covered bridge.

1903 (December 26)  --  tower of the Hooker Building on North Union Street destroyed by fire. 

1904 the covered bridge replaced by the present iron one.

1905  --  the Johnson Trolley Company began its operations.

1906  -- a fire destroyed William McReady's Perseverance Paper Mill on South Union Street.

1906 photo  -- shows the New Jersey National Bank at the corner of Bridge and Union Streets.  (Now, the Lambertville Chamber of Commerce has offices above the bank.)

1909 the Pennsylvania Railroad moved its maintenance yards to Trenton.

1909 the loss of Pennsylvania Railroad jobs partly made up by the Lambertville Pottery Company, which began manufacturing toilets.

1917 photo  -- shows Mrs. Alice Narducci (founder of the Lambertville Historical Society) strolling with Mrs. Alice Leary.

1922 the Lambertville Pottery Company with twelve kilns was producing 300 bowls and tanks daily.

1922 the Hairpin Factory closed after women began bobbing their hair.

1925 The Pottery Company closed because it could not provide sinks and bathtubs along with toilets and tanks. Later both rubber companies closed

1925  --  an addition added to Lambertville High School. 

1935  --  the Stockton Inn near Lambertville served as an overflow hotel for reporters covering the Trial of the Century, the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, in Flemington. 

1936  --  the Stockton Inn near Lambertville became famous when Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart wrote a song "There's a Small Hotel (with a wishing well)" that they used in the 1936 Broadway show, "On Your Toes." Among the regular patrons of the inn were Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and friends from New York's Algonquin Roundtable.

1937 the Pennsylvania Railroad officially abandoned the Delaware and Raritan Canal.

1940  -- the song "There's a Small Hotel" was reprised in the musical, "Pal Joey."

1940s  -- the Dr. John Lilly mansion served as the Moose Hall. 

1955  -- flood in Lambertville. 

1959  -- Mackler Building on North Union Street burned.

late 1960's rural Hunterdon "discovered by outsiders."

1970's and 80's Lambertville began to actively encourage new businesses to locate in the city. The City Council used urban renewal funds for urban "improvement" projects. They purchased

1993  --  the Lilly Mansion and turned it into the City library.

1993 population was 3,974.

Today Lambertville has many beautiful homes on tree-lined streets, a river view, and a restored canal path.


Lambertville Historical Society. A Brief History of Lambertville. http://www.lambertvillehistoricalsociety.org/about.php3

Sally A. Freedman.  1994.  Images of America: Clinton, Flemington and Lambertville.  Charleston, SC: Arcadia Press.