Parking passes are required on Saturdays. The Orientation Center and Cafe are open Thursdays – Saturdays. The property is closed to the public on Sundays and Mondays.

Duke Farms
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Postcards from the Past 1-5

In this series, participants will visit the past while developing an understanding of the present by comparing postcards of "Duke's Park" from the early 1900s to current views of the same location at Duke Farms. 

Written by:


Jan 1, 2023


In this series, participants will visit the past while developing an understanding of the present by comparing postcards of "Duke's Park" from the early 1900s to current views of the same location at Duke Farms. 


James Buchanan Duke, amassing his fortune in tobacco and hydro-electric power, arrived on the banks of the Raritan River in 1893. He bought farms, mostly from early Dutch settlers, who had removed early growth while introducing many non-native plants to the area. J.B. Duke wished to emulate the European gardens and parks he encountered on his travels and desired to create his own park in Hillsborough, NJ. With manicured lawns, a variety of native and non-native plants, in addition to many structures and statues inspired by his ventures, he opened “Duke's Park” to the public in the early 1900s.

The Challenge

Over the next few weeks, we will present scenes from these early postcards of Duke Farms partnered with a current photograph of the same site.

  • Can you identify the specific differences between the view from a historic postcard and a current photo of the same area?
  • Can visitors, who have previously visited the property recognize the location? Or, if you are new to Duke Farms, we encourage you to explore our website or app for clues.  
  • If this activity inspired you to further explore how our recent initiatives improve the environment while maintaining the integrity of the past, click here
  • There are a series of questions under the pair of photos. 
  • The answers for each week will be posted under the following week.

Week 1

  1. Do you see any landscape changes between the two pictures? What are they?
  2. Do you notice any changes with the human-made features? Explain why these differences are visible.
  3. Are there any changes that you can see to the structure itself? How many can you find?

Week 2

  1. This view reveals the only natural water feature in the core of Duke Farms. Can you identify it by name and do you know where it is?
  2. Imagine you are working as one of our Visitor Education Assistants at the desk of Farm Barn Orientation Center at Duke Farms. How would you give directions to this location to a first-time visitor? For those who have been on the property, try it first without using the map and then check your work. Click here for the map. If you have not visited the property, just use the map to see if you can name the location and provide directions.
  3. Can you identify the differences and what is the same in the two images?
  4. What can you tell about the seasons?

Week 3

  1. Which Duke Farms 'barn' does the postcard reveal?
  2. The postcard view sits at the intersection of which Dukes Farm paths? Here is a map
  3. What structural pieces are missing from the present view of the postcard?
  4. What types of trees border the present day path? 

Week 4

  1. Where is this scene located? 
  2. Can you guess the name the fountain? (study the postcard very carefully) 
  3. Many of the statues at Duke Farms originated in Europe, but where did the statue of the bull originate?

Week 5

  1. Where in Duke Farms are these scenes located? 
  2. What is missing from the postcard in the present-day view? 
  3. What very popular Duke Farm attraction lies to the right of the bridge?
  4. Extra Credit: What are the trees that now line the bridge called?


Answers to Week 1

  1. Landscape changes: postcard reveals a gravel road lined with young trees and boarded by a hedgerow; Recent photo: reveals a paved road with vegetation in the circle.
  2. Changes in human made feature: postcard reveals a chimney on the roof. Photo: no chimney. We are a LEED certified structure. Energy is supplied by solar and geothermal. The paved road is marked with stop sign.
  3. Changes in structure: compared to the postcard, the recent photo does not show a chimney. There are windows to left and right above the entrance. There is also a weather vane in one view and not in the other. Did you find more than 8 differences between the two views? Great observations!

Click here to jump to Week 2

Answers to Week 2

  1. The view is of the Dukes Brook waterfall. It is located about 100yrds from the South Gate entrance on the left.
  2. From the Farm Barn you would follow the red path to the right as you exit. Take the South Gate entrance at the light and follow directions of crossing guard. Once you enter, the waterfall is about 100yds on your left.
  3. The present photo is not the manicured landscape visible on the postcard. The falls are about the same. The center stone fountain still exits but no longer functions. Also, a small island has formed near this structure from the silt that has built up over the years.
  4. The present photo was taken in late winter/early spring. The postcard shows the lush folliage of summer.

Click here to jump to Week 3

Answers to Week 3

  1. Hay Barn
  2. Habitat Way and Central Way
  3. The roof of the Hay Barn and the stone well
  4. London plane and American Sycamore are trees in view

Click here to jump to Week 4

Answers to Week 4

  1. Central Way, across from the Coach Barn
  2. Frog Fountain. Frogs are a part of the fountain. 
  3. Durham, North Carolina

Click here to jump to Week 5

Answers to Week 5

  1. West Way bridge near the Great Falls
  2. The distant fountain and the small waterfall
  3. The Great Falls
  4. Catalpa trees

Click here for the next part in this series

This resource was created by Carl Cucchiara.

Written by:


January 1, 2023