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Duke Farms
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Postcards from the Past 16-20

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 16

  1. This lake is named for which bird that nests at Duke Farms?
  2. This postcard and photo were taken from which present-day Duke Farms path?
  3. These decorative, but invasive, grasses found in the postcard now proliferate throughout the property. What are they called?
  4. Why do we now permit growth along the banks of our lakes?

Week 17

  1. Where is this present-day pond and past fountain located? (Hint: You have seen this before but from a different angle.)
  2. What makes this water feature different from all the others at Duke Farms?
  3. Both the postcard and the photo reveal a ‘riparian edge’. What purpose does/did it serve now and in the past?

Week 18

  1. Both postcard and photo were taken from which major Duke Farms “Way”?
  2. Visible in the postcard but obscured in the photo, this view overlooks what two connected lakes?
  3. What destination or “garden” now occupies the site of the barn visible in the postcard?

Week 19

  1. Near which entrance is this fountain located?
  2. This may be the only fountain that is not connected to which Duke Farms main water source that supplies all lakes and fountains. What is the main water source?
  3. What is the present-day water source of this fountain? Hint: It’s natural!

Week 20

  1. The postcard states “Approach to the East Gate Entrance”. What is this “way” called today? Hint: It is the longest and straightest road in the park.
  2. The present ‘East Entrance’ leads onto which Duke Farms road?
  3. Both postcard and photo reveal an ‘allee’, a French term for a landscape feature. What is an ‘allee’ and what was/is its purpose?
  4. Extra credit: What other French term did you learn from a previous postcard?


Answers to Week 16

  1. Heron Lake
  2. Turtle Lake Path
  3. Chinese silver grass
  4. To discourage Canada geese

Click here to jump to Week 17

Answers to Week 17

  1. Dukes Brook
  2. It’s the only natural water feature
  3. The edge stabilizes the banks of our lakes from erosion

Click here to jump to Week 18

Answers to Week 18

  1. Oak Way
  2. Turtle Lake and Heron Lake
  3. Meditation Garden

Click here to jump to Week 19

Answers to Week 19

  1. Eagle Gate
  2. Duke Reservoir
  3. Dukes Brook

Click here to jump to Week 20

Answers to Week 20

  1. Oak Way
  2. Overlook Way
  3. An allee is a line of trees or bushes on the sides of a path that leads to one location
  4. Parterre garden

Click here for the next part in this series

This resource was created by Carl Cucchiara and Kate Reilly.

Written by:


January 1, 2023