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

Duke Farms
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Postcards from the Past 21-25

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 21

  1. The postcard and photo are very close to which main gate?
  2. Which natural waterway does this stone bridge cross?
  3. What natural water feature will you find directly to the right in both the postcard and the photo?
  4. As previously discussed, what kind of riparian edge is revealed in the postcard?
  5. Extra credit: What is the purpose of a riparian edge?

Week 22

  1. This postcard of 1907 refers to this path as “Lovers Lane”. What is this path called today?
  2. This is an example of the many “pergolas” that are found at Duke Farms. From which language is the word “pergola” derived?
  3. Down to the right of this photo is an expanse of land along the Raritan River called the Riparian Wetland. What purpose does this serve?
  4. Where else in previous postings have you seen this word “riparian”?

Week 23

  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 24

  1. This is an example of one of the many “well houses” found at Duke Farms. This one is unique as it had an additional water feature. What was this feature?
  2. This “well house” lies at the end of what major Duke Farms path?
  3. Partly visible in the postcard is a statue that remains at this site. What are the two names used to describe this statue?
  4. This statue is a bronze copy of a Roman marble copy of which early civilization? Hint: It gave us the word democracy.
  5. Extra Credit: This Roman copy can be found in which famous Florentine art museum?

Week 25

  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 21

  1. South Gate
  2. Dukes Brook
  3. A waterfall
  4. Boulders & rocks
  5. It helps stabilize the banks of the pond from erosion

Click here to jump to Week 22

Answers to Week 22

  1. Overlook Way
  2. Latin
  3. Habitat creation for flora and fauna, buffer for runoff pollution, helps control erosion
  4. Along edges of ponds and lakes

Click here to jump to Week 23

Answers to Week 23

  1. Grotto Fountain
  2. Fox Hollow
  3. Catalpa Trees
  4. Great Falls
  5. Portland Cement

Click here to jump to Week 24

Answers to Week 24

  1. A fountain
  2. Habitat Way
  3. Blue Boy (Thorn Extractor)
  4. Greek Civilization
  5. The Uffizzi

Click here to jump to Week 25

Answers to Week 25

  1. The bridge between the Great Falls and Old Foundation
  2. Vista Lake
  3. When constructed, the increased flow was due to the over 1 million gallons of water pumped daily into the reservoir
  4. Wells
  5. The Raritan River

Click here for the next part in this series

This resource was created by Carl Cucchiara and Kate Reilly.

Written by:


January 1, 2023