Trenton Bridge, 1935
One of Trenton's most notable landmarks is the Delaware River bridge with the enormous neon slogan, "Trenton Makes - The World Takes", affectionately called the "Trenton Makes Bridge". The bridge itself rests on stone piers that have been continually supporting a bridge since 1806. The slogan was adopted by the Trenton Chamber of Commerce in 1910 to represent Trenton's leading position in the manufacturing of a multitude of goods, most notably steel, rubber, wire rope, linoleum and ceramics.
Several Brochures were printed during the 1910s and 1920s extolling the virtues of Trenton as an industrial center, and listed all the benefits of locating business and manufacturing there.
The Trenton Chamber of Commerce felt the need to proclaim the slogan to the traveling world that so greedily partook of Trenton's labors. In 1911, the slogan, in giant, shimmering metallic letters, was affixed to the steel bridge spanning the Delaware River between Trenton, NJ and Morrisville, PA. This was an excellent location, as the slogan was seen by thousands of passengers daily on the Pennsylvania Railroad's Main Line connecting New York and Washington, DC.
By 1917, the slogan was enlarged and electrified, illuminated with 24,000 incandescent lamps. This sign shone on the river for over ten years until the bridge was replaced with the current structure in 1928, and the incandescent sign was removed. The bridge remained without a sign during the early years of the depression, until 1935 when the slogan was installed again, this time in glowing neon!
Trenton Bridge with new NEON signs, 1935.
The following excerpt was published by the Chamber of Commerce in 1936:
"In 1935 the Trenton Chamber of Commerce erected a mammoth electric sign on the vehicular bridge crossing the Delaware River at Trenton. This sign was built by a Trenton firm: Hutchinson Signs, Inc. Believed to be one of the largest neon community signs in the world, it is 330 feet long and has letters seven feet high, with capital letters nine feet. The entire cost of erecting, maintaining, and operating this sign is paid out of the Chamber's treasury. Thousands of passengers traveling on the Pennsylvania Railroad trains can see it from the nearby railroad bridge. Thus Trenton's widely known slogan, "Trenton Makes -- The world Takes," was flashed before the public day and night throughout the year 1936"
1980s aerial view of Trenton's bridge, with the city and State Capitol beyond.
Over the years, the great neon sign had suffered neglect and fallen to disrepair. As part of Trenton's renaissance and revitalization, the neon sign was restored in 1981 with new steel and neon and letters more immense than the original. The slogan now stands today greater than before, proclaiming Trenton's heritage and future.
The Trenton Bridge today.
Images copyright Robert C. Runge Jr.