The River Town of Hope

An old grist mill caught my eyes. I was standing at the edge of the green truss bridge in Lambertville that spans the gentle Delaware and opens up to a twin town which does not however lie in New Jersey. Cross a line on the bridge and you find out that you have left the state of New Jersey behind; that now, my darling, you have entered the state of Pennsylvania.

With just the crossing of a bridge, we were in another town.

New Hope of the Lenni Lenape Indians; of a thousand acres of land gifted by King Charles II to a certain William Penn; of a succession of men who operated ferries and mills; of an industrial past riddled with working mills and the legacy of a small community that worked hard to produce paper, quarry stones and grind grains. That is till a bohemian lot of artists were attracted to the picturesque quality that this town presented with its farrago of farmhouses, mills and barns, creeks, and the river that slips gently by it.

Towards the end of the 1930s, a group of aesthetes bought the grist mill that you see in the lead picture. They transformed it into a summer theatre. The Bucks County Playhouse, where so many famous actors and actresses honed their trade before they tried their luck on Broadway. That is how artists put New Hope on the map for art aficionados. And then, the rest of us followed on a day drenched with sun, filled with hope about this town that called itself New Hope. Note that the mills had their say in deciding its title for there were the Old Hope Mills which burned down, only to be replaced with mint-fresh mills built as the New Hope Mills.

Right from the main street where the bridge disgorged us, we were hard pressed for which direction to take. But there was no chance of leaving any road unexplored here. There was a roll-call of restaurants and cafes, ice cream shops, hippie shops selling harem pants and Buddhas, decor stores where you could step in and complete wooden jigsaw puzzles only to find some pieces broken, gourmet popcorn shops, food markets promising a tantalising mix of world cuisine…and then there were charming old properties, stone houses and mansions. And a stone bridge below which a somnolent creek crawled past the photogenic grist mill of my fancies before it emptied into the Delaware river.

So what did we do? We ambled around as much as one could; had strange conversations with mothers holding onto occupied loos for their sons; scoffed delicious ice creams; bought popcorn; realised that a credit card had gone missing and which therefore an irate husband rushed to retrieve with remarkable scowls and mutterings; and perched ourselves at a quiet bar humming with couples, by the creek.

Weeping willows hanging shyly in veils of green around us, the waters of the creek sliding by in smooth emerald sheets while all along catching the reflection of leafy trees lining its banks and the dappled sunlight, and flights of sparkling wine. We were caught in the moment.

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A man-made waterfall at the former 19th century grist mill. Credit: Adi.
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Besotted by this old mill, so naturally you shall be treated to every possible angle of it. Credit: Adi.
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Baroque Victorian catches the eye on the main street. A man called Charles Crook had the mansion built for his wife who was a fan of scrollwork. Thus its elaborate stage-like front. Additionally, it was the first house in Bucks County to boast of running water. Mansion Inn is an 18th century property, and though the inn itself did not exist then, it is the site where George Washington and his men dined before heading for a battle of the American Revolution. Credit: Adi.
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A town of settlers, New Hope has these rows of picket-fenced historic brick and stone properties sheathed in ivy, that make the heart skip a beat. Historic plaques often tell of a house’s former owner and their importance in the scheme of things. Credit: Adi.
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The Town Hall once served as New Hope’s town hall, school and jail. Credit: Anuradha Varma.
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One of the oldest houses in New Hope is this, Carriage House. You can catch a night’s stay or more here because it is a bolthole for the keen, with exposed wooden beams and hardwood floors. Credit: Adi.
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A capture of my sister-in-law at the bar along the Aquetong Creek. Credit: Anuradha Varma.
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Sparkling wines and green creeks. Credit: Anuradha Varma.
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Crisp pita and divine avocado dips to cool scowls away. Credit: Anuradha Varma.


Before falling upon that plate of grilled octopus with frenzy. Credit: Anuradha Varma.
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The bar by the creek. Credit: Adi.
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Picture perfect. However, that man on the bottom left hand side is not a dummy. For a moment I wondered if he was. Credit: Adi.
Old grist mills can be grist for your fancy. Credit: Anuradha Varma


Published by

Arundhati Basu

The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.

22 thoughts on “The River Town of Hope

    1. Cheers Lorelle. I think there is more to see there. We could not do it justice in the matter of a day, but we loved our brief time there thoroughly. xx


  1. I love how you photographed the playhouse in the day and night! Such a contrast with the waterfall and the twinkling lights and so beautiful. The wine and food look delectable! Wonderful bit of trivia about Washington. Enjoyed your post! – Neek


  2. Another place on my bucket list. That Victorian house looked like a place I’d love to sketch 😍
    Did you find the credit card? How was that avocado dip, it looks delicious from this side of the screen.


    1. Hello V, first things first. I bet you would do a fine job of sketching the house! It was so charming.

      The credit card was hunted down by Adi finally. He did get Turkish sweets from the man at the Turkish shop where I had left it behind. But instead of being happy about it, he did his best to harangue me. We had a neat little row too while drinking by the creek. πŸ˜›
      The avocado dip was Divine. I replicated it when I got home. With yogurt, garlic, fresh coriander, and cumin powder. xx


    2. Another thing, I left some comments on your latest posts (Barcelona and NYC), but they do not seem to have gone through. :-/


    1. Hello Brianji, thank you for taking the time to saunter through. It has been early for us for a long time now. More like seven-ish though. Why, what is the custom at yours?
      And yes, I cannot wait for the hair to grow further. It has been too short for too long now!


      1. Haha! What did your mother say when saw your hair? (Both short and long suit you anyway)
        7-ish is still reasonable. For me dinner is at 8-9. But I remember in the Us some having supper at 5!
        Bon Dimanche.


      2. Ah that is dinner timing in Calcutta for my parents. I tend to eat early.
        My mother was okay with it. She nowadays does not get too vehement about anything I do and has become mellow with age! πŸ™‚ I am not complaining.


    1. Hiya, WP might have forgotten me for my delayed absence. πŸ™‚ Thank you for remembering that it exists. Hope your feet are keeping busy.


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