If you love It’s A Wonderful Life and consider it a Christmas classic, get ready to love it even more. It turns out this beautiful story comes straight from the heart of New Jersey. The concept for the movie originated from a small story on a Christmas card written by Philip Van Doran Stern.

Stern was raised in Jersey City and he came up with the idea of a suicidal man being saved by a guardian angel who shows him his true worth. He tried for years to get it published as a short story and failed. Eventually he printed a version of the tale as a Christmas card. On that card was a drawing of a bridge with a desperate man leaning at its rail. Only a couple hundred of the cards were made but somehow one made it out to Hollywood where producers cut a deal to buy the rights and turn it into the movie that would be It’s A Wonderful Life, the Frank Cappra classic starring Jimmy Stewart.

That bridge would become the one George Bailey considers jumping off of and the one he stands on asking God to please let him live again. And it’s based on a bridge from right here in New Jersey. The iron bridge that cuts through the center of town in Califon and crosses over the South Branch of the Raritan River was the inspiration for Stern and what he pictured in his story.

So if you love It’s A Wonderful Life know that its very heart lies right here in New Jersey in a small town in Hunterdon County. If you’d like you can even discover the bridge for yourself.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.

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