Preliminary Paper Title: The Merchants of Trenton: Business, Recreation, and the Highway in a Postwar City

By Kyle Stegner

The City of Trenton – specifically parts of West Trenton and the Capital area – during the immediate postwar period holds many stories of environmental justice. The State of New Jersey, in the late 1940s and 1950s, was planning the placement and construction of an urban freeway to run along the Delaware River and cut through some of Trenton’s most precious spaces. The road went by different names – Route 29, Sanhican Drive, the East-West Highway – but many contemporaries called it the Assunpink Way, for it would run through the historically potent Assunpink Creek. Polls conducted at the time declared a majority of Trentonians supported the new freeway in order to relieve traffic congestion downtown, but some locals rejected the plans; small business owners along South Broad Street saw it as a detriment to their bottom-line, and leisurely citizens in search of green spaces were afraid it would cause the destruction of Stacy Park.