Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Exploring New Jersey’s Turnpike

The New Jersey Turnpike is quite possibly America's most important road; it is certainly its most traveled. Learn more about it through a series of compelling, sometimes frightening and often humorous anecdotes told by Professor Angus Gillespie at Bernardsville Public Library on Thursday, May 6 at 7:00 pm.

Based on his award-winning book, Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike, which he co-authored with Michael Aaron Rockland, Gillespie will talk about the Turnpike not only as a physical artifact, but as an emblem of American ideas and values. He’ll describe the physical characteristics of the road and convey the flavor of the massive turnpike—what is looks like, what it feels like, what it smells like, what it means, and how the engineers who built it, in the spirit of their time, were seeking efficiency at the expense of aesthetics and the environment. Built as economically as possible, with virtually no attention to aesthetics, the Turnpike is the embodiment of American pragmatism and of the triumph of function over form.

Dr. Gillespie is a professor of American Studies at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. He is a Fulbright professor and a New York Times best-selling author. A Yale University graduate, he did his graduate work in American Civilization at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The author of several books and numerous articles, Dr. Gillespie has a keen interest in iconic works of civil engineering. His scholarship deals with the design and construction of the built environment including works such as bridges, roads, canals, dams, and building.

The program is funded by the Horizons Speakers Bureau of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

There is no charge to attend the program, but advance sign-up is requested. Register online at and follow the link under Adult Programs, or call the library at 908-766-0118 to sign up.

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