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This article by Peter J. Mladineo was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

April 8, 1998. All rights reserved.

NJ’s `Proselytizing Patriot’

Apparently Barbara Westergaard still has her work

cut out for her. Ten years ago, in her authoritative "New Jersey:

A Guide to the State," the inveterate traveler and Garden State

booster complained about the state’s tenacious negative image "as

an amalgam of oil refineries and toxic waste dumps." Yet in the

past month an auto maker went ahead and produced a pricey TV ad (pulled

off the air within 48 hours after Governor Whitman’s official protest)

that — once again — featured New Jersey as an unbearably smelly

place.

Westergaard, a self-described "proselytizing patriot," has

just updated her classic, easy-to-use, "New Jersey: A Guide to

the State," with a second edition, published this month by Rutgers

University Press (352 pages; paper $17). She signs books and talks

about New Jersey’s many points of interest at the Princeton University

Store Monday, April 13, at 7 p.m.

Westergaard’s guide to New Jersey’s towns and parks is meant to serve

not just tourists but those who live in or commute to or through the

state. It is also a valuable resource for newcomers, including "victims"

of corporate relocation. Arranged alphabetically by town and city

name, the succinct entries are packed with history and pertinent information

(including contact telephone numbers), and an endnote encourages readers

to write to the author with corrections or omissions. New destinations

since the first edition include the Liberty Science Center in Jersey

City, the Museum of Agriculture in New Brunswick, the state aquarium

in Camden, and the Performing Arts Center in Newark.

The second edition includes new maps for the larger towns with the

location of interest points. It also features the return of Ellie

Wyeth’s line drawings ranging from a landscape sketch of the Hackensack

meadowlands to an architectural sketch of a Louis Kahn-designed model

house in the historic town of Roosevelt.

To say that the guide has been a time-consuming venture is an understatement.

"Although I’ve been doing lots of other things, it’s always in

the back of my mind. I’m always traveling, making notes, and keeping

files. It’s a full time job — but I do a lot of other things,"

says Westergaard, in a telephone interview from her home in Princeton.

Travel guides abound in the bookstores in a wide array of forms and

formats. Westergaard chose to model hers on the Michelin Green Guides

that she had used in Europe and found "a wonderful help."

"I like to read about the place I’m thinking of visiting and plan

my own itinerary," she says. "I dislike being told what to

do. So my guide is written for people who prefer to make their own

decisions."

What encouraged her to take on the project in the first place were

the pleasures and pitfalls of traveling by car with her family. "My

husband and I don’t like interstates, so we always tried to take the

county roads," she says. "Of course they’re not that well

marked, and we were always getting lost. So we learned a lot about

the state by getting lost."

The author is reluctant to play favorites. "I don’t like to choose

a favorite place," she says, "but I’m very partial to the

area around Delaware Bay because it’s different. It has a special

quality and hasn’t become urbanized. There are lots of small rivers,

older communities, and empty space." Among such unspoiled spots

replete with nautical culture and history is the Cumberland County

community of Mauricetown.

Westergaard is willing to name a single museum, the Edison National

Historic Site in West Orange (phone 973-736-0550), as a premiere museum

destination. "It’s such a remarkable place," she says. "Edison

had such a strong influence on the way our culture is today. They

have kept the labs where he developed half the patents he received

in his lifetime. It gives you a real sense of how he did the things

he did, and how they happened."

Born in the Midwest, Westergaard’s family moved every couple of years,

following her father’s career assignments with the A&P supermarket

chain. A 1951 graduate of Vassar, she majored in economics, and went

on to graduate school at Harvard. In 1955 she married composer Peter

Westergaard, who did his graduate work at Princeton. The couple lived

in Princeton first in the ’50s, and then settled here permanently

in 1968. They have two adult daughters.

Tourism is the state’s second largest industry, three-fourths of it

concentrated along the shore. And as if to thumb her nose at the state’s

perennial critics, Westergaard closes her book with "The New Jersey

Turnpike Tour." All 148 miles of the most heavily traveled toll

road in the U.S. are identified in a tour that assumes you are "using

the turnpike anyway and assumes that if you know what you are looking

at as you speed by, you will find it more interesting." Keyed

to the green mileage markers, it will help you (or your young passengers)

identify landmarks from Crosswicks Creek to the New York Times’s state-of-the-art

color printing plant and Martin Marietta’s "cruiser in the cornfield."

— Nicole Plett

Barbara Westergaard, Princeton University Store,

36 University Place, 609-921-8500. Free. Monday, April 13, 7 p.m.

New Jersey by the Day, West Windsor-Plainsboro Community

Education , 609-716-5030. Westergaard begins a three-week course

in getting to know your state. $28. Preregister. Wednesday, April

15, 7:30 p.m.


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