Greetings, and welcome to the Historical Society of Riverton's website for our town, founded in 1851, by a group of ten Philadelphians for summer homes for their families. Displayed within its scant square mile area of Victorian-flavored neighborhoods and gaslamp-lined streets are more than 150 years of American architectural styles. More than half of Riverton's buildings are included in the State and National Directories of Historic Places.

Here is the venerable Porch Club, birthplace of the PTA; Riverton Yacht Club, one of the oldest and still active yacht clubs in the country; the beloved Riverton Public School which just turned one hundred; treasured churches and other institutions, as well as businesses and a hometown to almost 3,000 proud Rivertonians.

Our masthead banner, derived from a delightful folk art painting by Riverton author and artist, Anne Knight Ruff, evokes the charm and vitality of our richly historic borough and serves as your invitation to explore it further with us.


“The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad.” – A.K. Best

Here is video of some very persevering fishermen and resolute sailors of the Riverton Yacht Club who carried on despite a light rain this evening from about 7 pm through 8:15.  About an hour and a quarter is compressed into this 1 min., 17 sec. clip.  – John McCormick

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Read the history that inspired this summer’s cycling events

Historic Riverton Century riders 2014

Historic Riverton Century riders 2014

The cyclists who took part in The Historic Riverton Century 100+ mile New York to Riverton bike ride on June 7 have moved on, but the memories remain here and a tangible dividend resulted for the town – the installation of a permanent historic marker at the former site of the track at the corner of South Broad Street and Thomas Avenue.

Riverton Bicycle Track sign, 8-1-2014

Riverton Bicycle Track sign, 8-1-2014

Riverton enjoyed another “fifteen minutes of fame” and media attention as a result of this June’s Bicycle Weekend that included the Historic Riverton Century riders’ arrival Saturday evening, June 7, the dedication of the Bicycle Track Historic Marker Sunday morning, June 8, and the Fourth Annual Historic Riverton Criterium Sunday afternoon.

Rob Gusky, the originator and planner of the grueling cycling odyssey that approximately recreates the route of the 1895 NY Times Tri-State Relay Race, continues to post photos and updates on Facebook since he returned to his Wisconsin home.

Particularly interesting is the first-person report of Randy “Wheels” Jackson, one of the riders, who gives his impressions of the hundred-mile trek from the steps of the New York Times Building to the site where Riverton’s quarter-mile bicycle track once stood near South Broad, behind the Riverline Station.

That endorphin-fueled high experienced by endurance athletes had barely worn off when Rob announced plans for the 2015 Historic Riverton Century that include a 15-mile ride from the Burlington Riverline station back to Riverton on Saturday, June 13, 2015.

l. Bill Hall; r. Rob Gusky

l. Bill Hall; r. Rob Gusky

Doubtless, these exciting new Riverton traditions owe at least a nod to events in our past for their inspiration.HSR Purpose

We pause here for a commercial message from our sponsor – the Historical Society of Riverton.

In the address he gave for the dedication of the Historic Marker, Town Historian Paul W. Schopp provided much needed historical context to Riverton’s decision to build a bicycle track in 1894.

Borough Historian, Paul W. Schopp

Borough Historian, Paul W. Schopp

In addition, Mr. Schopp’s remarks explain the broader implications of the Golden Age of Cycling and the influence that the League of American Wheelmen had on the development of better roads.

Then, there is the obvious question – what happened to the track?

It’s all here in Paul Schopp’s very fitting and customarily meticulous report on the Riverton Bicycle Track. – John McCormick

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Boardwalk Empire scenes and old postcards recall shore visits

Boardwalk Empire, Season Two, Episode 5, Opening Scene

Boardwalk Empire, Season Two, Episode 5, Opening Scene

You know you’re from New Jersey if you recognize the unusual structure in the distance of this scene from an episode of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.

New York Times piece entitled The Atlantic City the Boardwalk Emperor Knew outlines some of the familiar places and landmarks of old Atlantic City in the popular series.

Like at the beginning of Episode 5, Season Two when my wife and I each caught sight of Lucy the Elephant Hotel in the distance, and then we reminisced so much about visiting it as kids that we had to rewind the DVR to catch the Nucky Thompson dialogue we had just missed.

It is amazing how a glimpse of an image can transport me back many years to the 1950s when a climb of the spiral staircase to the howdah on Lucy’s back rewarded this visitor with a spectacular view. It would make an impression on anyone.

Built in 1881 and now National Historic Landmark, this amazing and strange, larger than life-size pachyderm-shaped architectural structure has survived the ravages of devastating storms, neglect, and even re-location.

Lucy the Elephant 1909

Lucy the Elephant 1909

Yeah, I know there are already seven Lucy postcards on the site, but there’s always room for another variation on Lucy, The Margate Elephant.

This colorful 1909 postcard captures the simple beauty and charm of a familiar sight in South Atlantic City, now Margate, New Jersey.  Many families and especially children will recall their visits to see and even go inside Lucy while vacationing at the Jersey Shore. Certainly countless family photo albums must contain photographic images of Lucy, The World’s Largest Elephant.

Postmarked at Longport, N.J. on JUL 31, 1909, the sender inscribed a novel handwritten message on the address side. It says:

“Hello Elizabeth,  This thing is a place of amusement.  See the doors and windows just like a house.  It is just as large as a good size house.  Hilda”  On the front of the postcard the writer adds, “This is close to our cottage.”

Lucy  Foldcard #1Lucy  Foldcard #2Also, displayed here is another piece of Lucy-inspired ephemera – an unused folded mailer, copyright 1929, with the bonus of some facts about the architectural marvel.

Read much more about the history of Lucy right up to the present-day on the official website of the Save Lucy Committee.

Find more Lucy images and many more of Atlantic City on our ATLANTIC CITY, NJ Images page.  – John McCormick

 

 

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Auction Wins and Losses

Drug Store - Riverton, NJ

Drug Store – Riverton, NJ

biznes-4You win some… well, you know how it goes.

Here’s a real photo postcard (RPPC) that got away on an online auction.

It shows the New Leaf Tea Room in a previous incarnation as a drug store. This non-watermarked eBay image is better than many other auctions display.

Henry Street - Palmyra, NJ 1926

Henry Street – Palmyra, NJ 1926

A charming 1926 view of Palmyra’s Henry Street with three kids under a tree is another that got away.

It is another decent image for screen viewing, but resolution is too low to produce an acceptable print, as you find most images here.

Bank Ave., Riverton, NJ

Bank Ave., Riverton, NJ

This Bank Street postcard at right showing a perambulator, or baby carriage, and perhaps the child’s mother or nanny seated under a tree had a sole bidder – me.

chickenAs my friend Tommy Kuensel likes to kid, “Even a blind chicken finds a kernel of corn now and then.”

And then I found another kernel.

 

Moravian Church, Palmyra, NJ

Moravian Church, Palmyra, NJ

This time, it’s another view of Palmyra Moravian Church on Cinnaminson Avenue.

If you have a kernel, or a bushel, to share with like-minded time travelers, please contact me to arrange a hand-off.

I only recently ramped up from 600dpi to 800dpi when scanning postcards for archiving. Images displayed on the website are understandably lower resolution, but someday we may be able to grant the many requests for prints or enlargements of these images.

Camden Carnival #2, Camden, NJ, c.1904

Camden Carnival #2, Camden, NJ, c.1904

My friend, Harlan, a frequent contributor of scans to this website, scored a remarkable find when he came upon what he calls a “sister card.” He writes:

Here’s a companion, or sister, card to one I sent earlier which was entitled Camden Carnival.  This is one of my favorites and just acquired on eBay.  Look very carefully at the children on elaborately decorated wagons and carriages lined up in a parade formation for a festive Camden Carnival event.  Notice this well-documented location for this scene looking North by the intersection of Broadway and Line Streets with the Camden Free Public Library at the far right of this photo view.  This card was not mailed and bears no inscriptions on the reverse, or address side.  Date circa 1904, or thereabouts.  A magnificent showpiece!

You can see both Camden Carnival pix and many more on our CAMDEN, NJ IMAGES page.

Does anyone have a clue what patriotic themed carnival Camden would be having on October 1, 1904? An early Columbus Day Parade or a political rally? As always, we welcome your insights and comments. – John McCormick

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Those Wildwood Days – 1960s Style

Wildwoods - Fun Pier

Wildwoods – Fun Pier

A friend recently showed me some 1960s-era postcards he bought from a boardwalk vendor just a few years ago.

Excited to see reminders of his childhood Wildwood Days, Jack bought up all eight of the old chrome postcards the seller had.

Wildwoods - Pirate Ship, Hunt's Pier

Wildwoods – Pirate Ship, Hunt’s Pier

The picture postcards reminded him of many sweet memories from family vacations spent at the Wildwoods.

There was the Pirate Ship and the pier with all the other great rides he remembered – like the Hell Hole.

Once inside the barrel-like room, it spun around with enough centrifugal force to pin you in place against its wall.

Wildwoods - Sportland Pier
Wildwoods – Sportland Pier

 

Jack confessed to upchucking as he left the Hell Hole ride when he was about 8 or 9.

Good times.

Wildwoods - Marine Pier

Wildwoods – Marine Pier

The images didn’t quite fit the stereotypical view of the  “vintage” postcards we usually display here, but then I did the math.

A postcard from 1963 or 1964 is already fifty years old. That qualifies as an antique in automobile circles.

Large Letter Greetings from Wildwood-by-the-Sea

Large Letter Greetings from Wildwood-by-the-Sea

I guess we’ll just have to adjust our view of what is vintage.

Whatever your age, see the rest of Jack’s 1960s-era postcards plus many more from earlier times on our CAPE MAY & WILDWOOD IMAGES page.

We owe thanks to Jack Blank, Harlan Radford, Deb Whitcraft, and Jim Cutshall for providing scans of their Cape May and Wildwood postcards seen here. Many other collectors have contributed to the thousands of images in this virtual postcard collection. If you have any South Jersey/Philly postcards or real photos that you would like to give to the Society or lend for scanning, please contact us. – John McCormick

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