British astrophysicist Martin Rees shared that aphorism in the preface to his book, “Our Cosmic Habitat.” He was referring to the outsize influence that Princeton University scientists have had on the field of cosmology, but he could just as easily have been talking about the town itself. The town is full of history, and you don’t need an astrophysics degree from Princeton to realize it.
Just ask Mimi Omiecinski, founder of the Princeton Tour Company and arguably the town’s biggest cheerleader. A native of Tennessee who came to Princeton in 2006 because of her husband’s job, she fell in love with the town. She researched voraciously at the library and Princeton Historical Society and channeled her new-found knowledge into a business offering tours around town and on campus. Her tours are chock-full of little-known facts about people from Albert Einstein to the Wicked Witch of the West and their place in Princeton’s past.
But Princetonians can be known to be a little competitive and more than a little smart. So the Princeton Echo presents this Princeton trivia quiz, prepared with help from Omiecinski and other long-time Princetonians who think they know a thing or two.
1. Princeton was the first university to call its grounds as a “campus.” In what year was the word first used in reference to the ground surrounding Nassau Hall?
2. Name the speaker: “Whoopee! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil but that’s a long one for me.”
3. What did John McPhee not do while growing up in Princeton?
A. Work in the biology department
B. Write for the Princeton High School student newspaper
C. Play on the university’s freshman basketball team
D. Compete on 20 Questions, the television and radio program
4. What waterway feeds into Carnegie Lake?
5. What famous poet has connections to Princeton football?
6. What was the first paved road in Princeton?
7. How did the Garden Theater get its name?
8. What species once believed extinct now flourishes on Broadmead Street?
9. What song was composed at 160 Mercer Street?
10. What is the claim to fame of Joseph McElroy Mann, Princeton Class of 1876?
11. Who played against Princeton in the first intercollegiate football game?
12. Princeton has two Alexander Halls. Where are they and for whom are they named?
13. What do actress Tina Fey, late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and media mogul Ted Turner have in common?
14. What famous novelist once wrote: “Princeton would suit me as well as Heaven, better in fact, for I shouldn’t care for that society up there”?
15. What was the Princeton police department’s first motorized vehicle?
16. A careful observer will notice that the columns on the arcade outside of Frist Campus Center are not flat on the top. Why not?
17. What were the names of Albert Einstein’s pets?
18. What was Foundation X?
19. Name the Princeton University alumni who have gone on to become president of the United States or governor of New Jersey.
20. Name the three places in Princeton to find Tiffany windows.
21. Go on a tour of the Princeton campus today, and the guide will likely tell you that the School of Architecture is, ironically, considered to be the ugliest building on campus. What building held that distinction in the 1920s, before it burned down in 1928?
22. Before Princeton Borough and Township residents voted to consolidate the two municipalities in 2012, there had been several failed previous consolidation efforts. How many? When were they?
23. What future television star made her stage debut at McCarter Theater with a 1937 production of “Hey Diddle Diddle”?
24. Where did famed singer Marian Anderson stay when she performed at McCarter Theater?
25. What was Nemderoloc?
26. What are the meanings and origins of the names Drumthwacket and Jasna Polana?
27. The last private owner of Drumthwacket held more than 2,000 patents at the time of his death and designed the space suits used on multiple Apollo missions. Who was he?
28. What Princeton High School alumna won a gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics?
29. Who was Princeton’s first European colonist?
30. What was the claim to fame of Princeton resident Svetlana Alliluyeva?
31. True or False: Two past Princeton residents have played Superman.
32. What family’s graves were found during the construction of Holder Hall on the university campus near the corner of Nassau Street and University Place?
33. What Princetonian philanthropist and music lover provided key funding for the plaintiffs in the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case?
34. What adventure movie hero and his girlfriend were based in Princeton?
35. Where in Princeton can you find this inscription?
Here memory lingers to recall the guiding mind,
Whose daring plan outflanked the foe and turned dismay to hope,
When Washington, with swift resolve, marched through the night,
To fight at dawn and venture all in one victorious battle for our freedom.
36. Which of these politicians is not buried in Princeton Cemetery?
A. Grover Cleveland
B. John Witherspoon
C. Woodrow Wilson
D. Aaron Burr
37. What connection does James Joyce’s “Ulysses” have to Princeton?
38. Where is the only Einstein museum in North America?
39. Why did the house at 35 Boudinot Street have a shark painted on the bottom of its swimming pool?
40. What is the claim to fame of Kopps Cycle Shop?