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A Real Head Trip

Landau's mini-museum won't be mistaken for the Smithsonian, but it has its charms. In the hour I spent there, a half-dozen individuals or groups took time to pay homage. Some were enticed by the brief mention on the town map, still others simply came upon it while browsing through the store.

I heard two women with distinctly Asian accents whisper in surprise, "Einstein." They were Filipino natives now living in the United States, and they asked me take their pictures next to the Einstein cutout. One bought a T-shirt emblazoned with an Einstein quote: "You Cannot Simultaneously Prevent and Prepare for War."


Call me Al: A cardboard cutout of the physicist, above, is part of a small Albert Einstein display in a woolens shop, one of Princeton's few tributes to its resident genius. (Photos Tim Larsen -- AP Special For The Washington Post)


_____Correction_____
The contact information for the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce in New Jersey was incorrect in the Oct. 29 Escapes column. The correct telephone number is 609-520-1776, and the Web site is www.princetonchamber.org.


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Princeton is actually a good tourist town. With its famous Ivy League university, bustling downtown and shady streets filled with scores of handsome old buildings, Princeton has much to offer visitors.

And Einstein aside, Princeton is a great place to chase the famous departed. Just follow a map prepared by the historical society with the addresses of some of those who lived here, including two U.S. presidents (Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson), literary giants F. Scott Fitzgerald and T.S. Eliot, and actor-singer-activist Paul Robeson.

And nearby, Princeton Cemetery on Greenview Avenue was once described as "the Westminster Abbey of America." The roster of eternal residents includes Cleveland, Aaron Burr, the nation's third vice president and the man who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel, and Paul Tulane, a Princeton native and the benefactor of Tulane University in New Orleans. Wisenheimers put colorful Mardi Gras beads around the neck of the life-size statue atop his monument.

Of course, Princeton's star-power draw starts with the university. Just duck into the Yankee Doodle Tap Room for a brew or a meal and check out the gallery of famous university alums, including several who are still alive: Look, there's Brooke Shields (Class of '87). Nearby are the pride of '65 -- Bill Bradley and Charles Gibson. Farther down the line are two contemporaries who probably didn't like each other then and probably don't now -- Ralph Nader ('55) and Donald Rumsfeld ('54). There's also Jimmy Stewart ('32), as well as Adlai Stevenson ('22) with a full head of hair.

Still, the favorite past-tense person in town remains Einstein, and it looks as though he's finally getting his due. In October, the Institute for Advanced Study, where Einstein was a resident thinker, gave the historical society 65 pieces of Einstein's furniture that it will eventually display after it reconfigures its museum and develops an exhibition plan.

And a private group is raising funds to erect a statue of Einstein in 2005 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of his general theory of relativity and its famous equation. The statue will go on a site near the borough hall, a spot soon to be renamed as, ba-da-bum, EMC Square.

When it comes to Einstein, sounds like Princeton is wising up.

Escape Keys

GETTING THERE: Princeton is 31/2 hours north of Washington. Take I-95 to Route 1 north. Follow for about five miles. Take either the Alexander streets or Washington streets exit and head west into downtown.

BEING THERE: Landau's Einstein mini-museum is at 102 Nassau St. The Historical Society of Princeton (158 Nassau St.) dispenses maps and other info. Princeton University fronts Nassau Street and sprawls eastward. Downtown is a thriving area with national and local retail outlets and eateries housed in turn-of-the-last-century buildings.

EATING THERE: At the high end is Lahiere's (5-11 Witherspoon St.), a traditional jacket-and-tie place that has loosened up a bit. Soup is $6, with entrees up to $33. More casual fare and prices are found at the Annex (128 Nassau St.), a subterranean hangout with doodlings on the knotty pine paneling and dinners ranging from $8 to $16. In between is the Yankee Doodle Tap Room, at the Nassau Inn (10 Palmer Square, home to the Yankee Doodle mural painted by Norman Rockwell. Dinners range from $13 to $23. The Ferry House (32 Witherspoon St.) is slightly more upscale, serving American fare with Latin and Asian touches. It's BYOB, but there's a liquor store across the street.

STAYING THERE: In the heart of Princeton, the Nassau Inn (609-921-7500, www.nassauinn.com) has been around since 1756. Rooms start at $200, with occasional specials of $159. There are chain hotels on Route 1.

INFO: Princeton Chamber of Commerce, 609-520-1776, www.princetonchamber.org.


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