In Bordentown, history’s echo is inescapable. Red-brick buildings date back centuries and harbor stories. The city has housed rabble rousers, inventors and exiled kings, including Joseph Bonaparte, big brother to Napoleon. If you are of a certain temperament, you might say it feels a bit haunted, right down to the rambling millworks by the railroad tracks and the Revolutionary-era tombstones in Christ Church Graveyard.
Yet to spend time here is to sense an upswell of new energy. Downtown, colonial-style lampposts juxtapose with upstart boutiques. People of all walks mingle, from long-time residents to creative types who appreciate the draw of riverside life. Though downtown can feel crisp quiet on certain evenings, one only has to open the door to any restaurant or shop to encounter a tumble of warm conversation. It’s like the best of a city and small town rolled into one: Home to just under 4,000 souls, the city feels primed for its next chapter.