Old Maps of Raritan Tell the Story
Recently historical maps made by the Sanborn Map Company were digitized and put online. These maps are what this author calls “All Buildings Maps” for not only are the roads shown, but so is every building – sometimes with brief descriptions of the building’s function and layout.

A century ago Sanborn was the largest map maker in the country. The maps were made for various reasons, but mostly for “Fire Insurance” as fire was an ever present danger in the old days. Seven of these Sanborn maps are of Raritan. They are from the years 1887, 1892, 1897, 1903, 1910, and 1919. These detailed maps, along with other already known “All Buildings Maps” from 1860, 1873, 1928, and 1948 allow the historian to trace the history of this town in much more detail than ever before.

Links to these maps can be found below.
Each successive map shows an increment in the development of the town of Raritan.
Click for a menu of all the Sanborn Maps

This earliest detailed map of Raritan has been known to historians for years.
It shows buildings along Somerset Street and First Avenue (which was then called Van Middlesworth Ave.).

The Third Reformed Church and St. Bernard’s Church are present. The map shows that back then it was south of Somerset Street that had most of the houses.
Click to see full screen 1860 map
1873 Beers Co. Map

On this map we see the town as we know it today taking shape. In the thirteen years since the previous map (1860) numerous structures were built.

The streets north of Somerset Street - Gaston, First “Street”, and Second Street now appear.
There are many buildings on Anderson and Thompson Street.
Dozens of the buildings on this map are still with us today. They include the two large homes across from the Basilone Statue, 7 First Avenue (the recording studio today), and many of the homes on the various side streets such as Nevius and Doughty.
Click to see full screen 1873 map
1887 Sanborn Map

This is the first of the very detailed Sanborn maps. It reveals that many homes of that era had a shed in the back for horses.
The brick row houses are built by then.

The factories along the river are the Star Grist Mill, New Jersey Enamel Paints, Raritan Flour Mills and Kenyon Machinery.
1892 Sanborn Map

The train station depot building appears for the first time.
St. Bernard’s Parochial School (later the VFW) also makes its debut.
1897 Sanborn Map

On this map we see the Anderson Street Firehouse for the first time. But First Street does not yet extend to Anderson Street.
A house sits on what later will be the part of First “Street” in front of the firehouse.
1903 Sanborn Map

The brick building that today holds “Safe Haven Computer” is present and it is shown to be a hotel.
1910 Sanborn Map

The castle by the river - which was a water pumping station for Dukes Estate - makes its debut.
So does St. Ann’s original Church (which was built in 1906).
1919 Sanborn Map

We see for the first time the Raritan Theatre (later the Playhouse) at 23 Anderson Street.
It was also St. Rocco Hall.
The evolution of the North-East Corner of Somerset Street and First Avenue
By looking at the same location on a succession of maps one can see how that location evolved over time.

One example of that is the North-East corner of Somerset Street and First Avenue – where the Quick Chek / The Liquor Savor and their parking lot are today.

The old maps show that in the old days the buildings were situated right along the roads and not set back like today. The property had three sections to it - West, Middle, & East.
Click to see the evolution of the corner of First Avenue and Somerset Street
West - As early as 1860 on the west side of that property was a shop that built and repaired carriages (that were pulled by horses).

While the owner would change over the decades – starting with Carkhuff in 1860, then John Sharp in 1873, T. Mullener in 1887, and later Chas Smith – the location remained a carriage manufacturing and carriage repair shop for fifty years.

Other related businesses would accompany the shop.

We see on the Sanborn maps that blacksmithing, wheelwrights work and bicycle repair were also done there.
The maps show that when the automobile put the horse carriage makers/repairers out of business (around 1920) the business at that location adapted and became a repair shop for the new transportation vehicle - the automobile. Augustus Duryea would own the first automotive repair business at that spot. A guy named Filak took over for him from 1926 – 1931. The last blacksmith to work there was around 1928.

In 1936 Joseph Lipoma would take ownership of the auto repair shop. During his tenure the upstairs was a meeting place that could be used for social gatherings. The Post War Club met there in the 1950s. Lipoma’s Garage was a busy shop that was a vital part of the community. Today’s older Raritan residents all remember the place. Around 1961 Lipoma’s Garage closed and was knocked down afterward.
The garage can be seen in this photo
Middle - In the middle part of today’s Quick Chek / Liquor Savor lot along Somerset Street there were three buildings.

Two were houses 1860-1960 and the other building had a bakery from 1860 till at least 1922 and after that it was a small apartment building.
East - On the east side of the Quick Chek / Liquor Savor lot from (around) 1860 – (around) 1922 was a hotel. While it was called a “hotel” that description is misleading as its primary function was as a tavern and recreation place for locals. The hotel was initially named Garnsey’s Hotel and later the Riverview Hotel.

The Sanborn map shows that the hotel had a dining room, parlor room, pool table room, and a café. In its later years (on the 1919 map) a previously forgotten bowling alley was in the back. The path of the bowling lanes ran perpendicular to Somerset Street which would take it through the liquor store today.

Prohibition, which started in 1920, put the hotel out of business and the 1928 Sanborn map shows no hotel in that location.
The Riverview Hotel around 1909
The entire north-east corner of Somerset Street and First Avenue was turned into the small shopping center that we know today around the late 1960s.

The Quick Chek would open there around 1970.