Vainly I looked in online files to find one of my 20 minute driving tours, titled “Gossips’ Guide to Princeton,” but I did find this “Einstein Tour,” written in 2005. It’s longer than 20 minutes if you get out at each stop. I’ve updated it a little. It begins:
Einstein has always been Princeton’s most sought-after celebrity. Visitors from Europe who are visibly unimpressed by “old” buildings like Nassau Hall, and those from other continents who turn a deaf ear to stories of the town’s role in the Revolutionary War – they all know about Albert Einstein and are eager to view any signs of the great man’s legacy.
Conversing with a reference librarian at the Princeton Public Library, I learned that visitors sometimes ask: “What can I do in an hour before I leave for the airport?”
With my Gossip’s Guide hat on – I suggest:
In 20 minutes, more or less
The Quick Paul Robeson Tour: Check out the Robeson bust by Antonio Salemme in the Princeton Room on the second floor of the library. Walk past the Arts Council of Princeton’s Robeson bust (this site formerly belonged to the Colored YMCA) to the Paul Robeson house and Witherspoon Presbyterian Church, where his father preached. (Both visible only from the outside).
the Norman Rockwell “Yankee Doodle” painting at the Nassau Inn Tap Room (reminding the patron that it is NOT a colonial era building!). Check out the alumni headshots. If you have time, a free place to sit is the upstairs lounge, by the fireplace.
Princeton Cemetery. Available at the entrance is a new brochure.
Tiger Walk: Stroll from the tiger in Palmer Square and the tigers at the entrance to Nassau Hall. Keep going and you will find more.
The Comparative Architecture Tour: Enjoy the interior of the Princeton Public Library, a Taj Mahal of libraries, designed by the Hillier firm. Diagonally across, the work of postmodern architect Michael Graves. Contemplate the differences. Then check out the interior of the Arts Council and the current exhibit.
Dohm Alley: a startling array of thoughts and objects in a small narrow space. Plus, there’s a water feature good for contemplating, and it’s right down the street from the town’s college bookstore (never miss a chance to enjoy a college bookstore.)
In 30-40 minutes
A quick Einstein tour — the Einstein museum in the back of Landau’s plus the Einstein bust at the corner of 206 and Nassau Street, great photo op. (The house is too far to walk in a hurry, but I tell people to drive and park on Edgehill.)
Morven, now made relevant by truthful and inclusive exhibits that tell the stories of female occupants and slaves.
Prospect Gardens, always attractive in any season.
Princeton University Chapel, always open and it has a brochure about the windows
Tiffany Window Tour at Princeton United Methodist Church on Fridays and Sundays noon-2.
Quick sculpture tour 1: Circle of Animals by Ai Weiwei and Picassso’s Head of a Woman, down by the former Dinky Station.
Quick sculpture tour 2: The Plaza in front of the chapel: statue of John Witherspoon, Song of the Vowels by Lipschitz, and (just inside the University Library, and open to the public) Noguchi’s White Sun. Throw in Oval with Points if you are walking that way.
This tour works if a Princeton native can direct the visitor. Later I may have time to add the links. What would YOU recommend?
An emailed cartoon from the New Yorker enlightened me on an area of quantum physics I knew nothing about. I still know nothing about quantum physics, but now I know that theories about somebody’s cat had something to do with it.
Here is the link to the New Yorker cartoon. You might have to page through till you get to the one in the vet’s office, where the female vet tells a bespectacled man, “About your cat, I have good news and bad news.” The cat’s owner’s name, in the cartoon, is Mr. Schrodinger (with an umlaut, spelled Schroedinger in English).
I could see nothing funny about the drawing or the comment. Finally I realized that the name was unusual, maybe it meant something. I googled it, and found pages and pages about a quantum physicist named Schroedinger who theorized that a cat could be both dead and alive at the same time. (Now I know why I don’t want to study quantum physics, but here is a link to where someone tries to explain it).
Turns out everyone else knew about this man’s cat. It was referenced in TV shows like the Big Bang and Doctor Who, and lionized in a Google doodle. He even has his own Facebook page. This cat may even be featured on the Top 20 list of Science Facts that English Majors Should Know.
Why do I bring it up on a blog that focuses on Princeton? The Einstein connection, a connection so important that it’s the subject of Einstein’s Dice and Schroedinger’s Cat, a forthcoming book by Paul Halpern, due out on April 15.
it’s all theoretical of course, or the SPCA would object.