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Visiting Parsippany-Troy Hills: A Crossroads of New Jersey With a Submerged, Rich History

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State flag of New Jersey

State flag of New Jersey

View west along Interstate 80 between Exit 43 and Exit 42 in Parsippany-Troy Hills Township, Morris County, New Jersey

View west along Interstate 80 between Exit 43 and Exit 42 in Parsippany-Troy Hills Township, Morris County, New Jersey

A sense of transition deeply rooted

A number of years ago I visited Parsippany-Troy Hills, a Township in New Jersey's Morris County, of which Parsippany-Troy Hills, at 53,238 (2010) is the most populous in the County.

Many people might regard the Township as a place to go through rather than to. Certainly, from a superficial perspective, Parsippany might seem to be a crossroads, where I-80 intersects I-287.

New Jersey's Rutgers University has offered a course of 'Jerseyana', led by Professor Michael Aaron Rockland, who argues that a sense of extreme decentralization permeates this, the most densely populated of the 50 states (1).

Indeed, since New Jersey's state territory is often regarded as a territory of transition, and because historically New Jersey was regarded as 'the Crossroads of the American Revolution', Parsippany resembling a crossroads could even be said to make it a type of the state itself.

Eastbound along the I-80 at Parsippany, at certain times of the day one sees a ceaseless flow of traffic recently emerged from across the state line — dissecting the Hudson River — in Manhattan. A journey westbound along the I-80 brings easy access to the mountains of northern New Jersey: a surprisingly varied state from a topographical perspective.

The views, above, in photos which I have supplied, typify Parsippany as I remember it, when I stayed in the locality: a stay which was all too short. Interestingly, such is the proximilty of New York City that hotel accommodation locally is sometimes even advertised as being in 'New York Parsippany'.

But underneath the highly diverse and cosmopolitan hinterland of the Jersey Shore may be discerned a somewhat submerged sense of place derived from Revolutionary times. Over the Crossroads of the American Revolution flies the state flag of New Jersey, its striking buff and blue colours making it among the most distinctive of state flags. Even as the same buff colour in a diamond shape in the Delaware state flag is reputedly derived from Thomas Jefferson's description of neighbouring Delaware as a jewel among states, so also the buff colour in New Jersey's state flag is derived from the buff facings of General George Washington's uniform.

Memories of the 18th century endure at Parsippany; a number of historic buildings date from either pre- or post-Revolutionary times (described at 'Worth seeing', below)(2). Further back in local history, the name 'Parsippany' is derived from the Lenape Native American 'parsipanong', referring to a river running through a valley.

February 22, 2021

Notes

(1) See also: https://donperlgut.wordpress.com/tag/whats-your-exit-a-literary-detour-through-new-jersey/ ; http://www.michaelrockland.com/Index.html

(2) See also: https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Parsippany#Q532344

Some sourcing: Wikipedia; additional sourcing: https://njskylands.com/tn_parsippany_091

Worth seeing

In Parsippany-Troy Hills itself, the Township has various examples of historic architecture. Pre-Revolutionary buildings the Livingston-Benedict House dates from 1752 and the Benjamin Howell Homestead from 1763. Bowlsby-Degelleke House was built in 1791. Littleton School House dates from 1790; the Isaac Beach House from 1783. The Craftsman Farms are a National Historic Landmark. Watnong Mountain / Beacon Hill in Mountain Way Park was used for signalling by the Continental Army. The Rock Shelter contains examples of Native American rock art many hundreds of years old. Troy Meadows contains New Jersey's largest freshwater marsh, with a 2 mile / 3.2 kilometre boardwark.

At Caldwell (distance: 9 miles / 14.5 kilometres) is the Grover Cleveland Birthplace / Caldwell Presbyterian Church Manse, where the 22nd and 24th President was born in 1837, and which is on the U.S. National and New Jersey Registers of Historic Places; the building dates from 1832.

Liberty Island State Park and the Statue of Liberty (distance: 29.1 miles / 46.8 kilometres): among the United States's most visited landmarks, inaugurated by President Grover Cleveland in 1886; the Statue of Liberty National Monument incorporates Ellis Island and its Immigration Museum.

NB: In these blog articles with accounts of past travel at localities, often described within their historical context, I am pausing from including suggestions for travel conveyances and carriers because of the existence of travel advisories and sanitary regulations which may greatly differ from one jurisdiction to another.

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MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Morris County, New Jersey divided by municipality. In the upper left hand corner, Morris County's position in New Jersey is highlighted in red.

Morris County, New Jersey divided by municipality. In the upper left hand corner, Morris County's position in New Jersey is highlighted in red.

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