Marginalia

WHITEHEAD must have cherished the natural attractions of Amboy Point, which was not just the home of his teenage years but a refuge from the less wholesome cities where he later worked and lived. Yet even before his first glimpse of Perth Amboy human activity had already so altered the coast and nearby woodlands that to summon up the … More Marginalia

Birth of a bank

THERE are two ways to sail from Newark to Perth Amboy. A boat leaving Newark Bay may head east through the Kill Van Kull, south through The Narrows and then southwest, skirting the shores of Staten Island. A shorter but more sinuous course threads its way southward along the meandering Arthur Kill. The Whitehead family took one of these routes, both considerably more … More Birth of a bank

The Castle

ECLIPSED early in its development by other colonial ports, Perth Amboy never became the New World metropolis of its founders’ dreams. Antiquarians in William Whitehead’s day could be excused for their disregard of a place with “no crumbling castles, no time-worn battlemented walls, nor monuments of fallen greatness” to meet the eye.1 The town seemed to … More The Castle

Vessels

ARRIVING in 1823 at Perth Amboy, William Whitehead could recall only one previous experience of travel by water: a crossing of the Hudson with his father on a shallow-draft, two-masted rig called a periauger or pettiauger. (The size and design of such craft were, like the name, variable.) If there had been another such excursion, … More Vessels

Arrival

TWO hundred years ago or more, the heights of Perth Amboy offered an unobstructed view of Raritan Bay. At the horizon the bay opened onto a vast ocean. Thousands had traversed it at the behest of conscience or commerce, some secure in their liberty, others bound in servitude, to populate this point of land to which … More Arrival