NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - It was the first decade of the Cold War and the era that sparked rock 'n roll when TV was bringing Ed Sullivan into everyone's living room, and suburban development was creating more bedroom communities outside the cities.
The 1950s brought changes in the culture that are still with us today, and many of that era’s biggest cultural changes had their roots in New Jersey. Few may know that rock `n roll was born in Wildwood and that ShopRite Supermarkets got their start in Newark. How many are aware that a young seminary student named Martin Luther King Jr. had a life-changing experience in the Maple Shade Tavern in Camden?
Now Middlesex County has tried to capture the hopes, hardships and history in a new exhibit: ‘Mid-Century New Jersey: The Garden State in the 1950s.
Intended as a trip back to the days of jukeboxes, diners and hot rod racing, the exhibit opens Sunday, March 31, at 12 p.m. at the Cornelius Low House, 1225 River Road, Piscataway. It will be open through June 28.
The 1950s was a time of transformation, economic growth, and hope for an Atom-powered future. However, it wasn't a brave new world for everyone. Race, gender, or orientation severely limited the role of many people in this age of prosperity.
“This is a great opportunity for schools and local history buffs to get a look at New Jersey’s past, and our state’s role during an important transition in history,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald Rios. “See how your own family history connects to the rise of the suburbs, car culture, and so much more," Rios said in a statement.
Admission and parking are free. An American Sign Language Interpreter can be provided with a two-week advance request.
“History is about understanding the connections between the present and the past,” said Freeholder Kenneth Armwood. “This exhibit helps illustrate how the developments of the 1950s helped set the stage for social change of the 1960s, and how we feel those effects even today.”