How would life be like in Trenton if you lived in 1916. Well, World War I was rumbling in Europe and there was a lot of talk whether we should be involved (We did enter in 1917.) One thing today's people would notice about the people back then is body odor. Most people did not have access to hot water and took baths about once a week. The majority of people in Trenton owned about three sets of clothes. They switched off every other day with the third set reserved for church on Sundays. Wash was done by hand about once a week. It was a very time consuming event done mostly by women. Almost all females would have been wearing dresses. Most males would have been in work clothes. Clothing would have had to last a long time back then. People could not afford to buy new clothes often. Darning (A sewing technique for repairing holes) and patches would be found on most clothing.
Most people did not own cars in 1916. There would have been many horse carts and buggies in the streets back then. A trolley line, similar to a bus running on train tracks built into the road, would have operated throughout Trenton. The train stations were must busier than today as in was almost the only means of long distance transportation. A few cars might have puttered around at top speeds of about 30 miles per hour.
Most streets were either dirt, cobblestone, or brick. Things could get pretty muddy after a rainstorm. The milkman would have come around daily. The milk would have been stored in ice boxes. The ice man would come around every few days selling chunks of ice for this box. Ice would have been cut and harvested from local ponds during late winter. The downtown was the place where everyone shopped. It would have been the center of activity in Trenton with concert and dance halls, stores, and a silent movie theater.
Most people worked in the many factories in Trenton. The largest and best known was the Roebling Wire Factory. There's a good chance you would have been woken up by the factory horn calling people to work. Most children in Trenton did not go to school beyond the 6th grade. They would become factory workers or help with household chores when they reached teenage years. There would have been a canal where Rt. 129 stands now. Third Street would have had a beer factory on the corner of Lalor Street. Up the street on Third (Near what is now Parker School) would have been a Jewish section with several Kosher places to buy food.