New Jersey: Images of the Garden State
August 15, 2020 11:36 AM   Subscribe

From the Skylands, to the Palisades, to the farms and cranberry bogs, and down the Jersey Shore to Cape May, here are a few glimpses of the landscape of New Jersey Some cool nuggets of information here: did you know the water around the Statue of Liberty is owned by New Jersey whereas the actual island of the statue is part of New York?
posted by folklore724 (35 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
Shh. We're crowded enough. Let people think it's all the Turnpike and refineries. Joking aside, I find the refineries in Elizabeth and Linden really fascinating to look at as I drive past them, and the reality is that if places didn't look like that, we wouldn't live the way we do, so people who are quick to mock it should probably think about that.

New Jersey has a few interesting water boundary quirks for a small state. Delaware has exclaves on the Jersey side of the Delaware River, at Artificial Island and a bit further north at Finns Point. I, for one, want the statue back.
posted by mollweide at 12:05 PM on August 15, 2020 [13 favorites]


"The Statue of Liberty is seen from a street in Jersey City on April 28, 2020. While Liberty Island, which the statue stands on, belongs to New York, the waters around it belong to New Jersey." Is good enough for a Tweetanalysis but a chunk of Liberty Island - including the bit under the wash-rooms and gift-shop - is landfill and so part of the "submerged lands" falling under New Jersey jurisdiction. Nice analysis here of where surveyors blew the dust off old mappes and fired up their GPS to show where the stateline runs. A SCOTUS case about similarly situated Ellis Island found in NJ''s favour in 1998. At issue is who gets the sales-tax for all those Liberty watering-cans, sneakers and decals.
posted by BobTheScientist at 12:23 PM on August 15, 2020 [6 favorites]


Interesting! And here's CGP Grey on Who Owns the Statue of Liberty ...
posted by carter at 12:26 PM on August 15, 2020


did you know the water around the Statue of Liberty is owned by New Jersey whereas the actual island of the statue is part of New York?

Ellis Island is also weird, where the land that constituted the original island is part of NY, and the portions created by infill are part of NJ. A section of Liberty Island is also created by infill, but it hasn't been officially decided by litigation.

Per the current US Naturalization exam:

95. Where is the Statue of Liberty?
  • New York (Harbor)
  • Liberty Island
[Also acceptable are New Jersey, near New York City, and on the Hudson (River).]
posted by zamboni at 12:26 PM on August 15, 2020 [3 favorites]


BtS: jinx!
posted by zamboni at 12:27 PM on August 15, 2020


I like when it's mentioned NJ's the most densely populated state in the Union, but they often don't give you a sense of what that means.
New Jersey has half a million more people than Quebec.
It's also about the same size in land area and population as Israel.

It's August, and I miss New Jersey sweet corn on the cob. Or mixed in a cold raw salad with Jersey tomatoes. Summer!
posted by bartleby at 12:27 PM on August 15, 2020 [11 favorites]


Oh and hey, somebody fight me on this one. It might just be one of those stories I got in my head somewhere.

When New Jersey is referred to as 'The Garden State', they don't mean flower beds and ornamental shrubbery (though there are plenty of those).

Going back to colonial times, practically back to when it was Nieuw Nederlands, New Jersey has been wedged between New York City and Philadelphia. The topography didn't allow it to compete with the big grain farms of neighbors like the Pennsylvania and Massachusetts colonies then states.

But the proximity to two major urban centers, even when urban meant your town was proud of its new clock, or they just got telephones, made it the perfect place to cultivate fresh, high-value items.
So you're a Wall Street banker with a ticker tape machine, or a Philadelphia dock worker unloading a cargo schooner; the wheat for your daily bread might be from upstate New York, but the milk and jam and the fresh eggs were from New Jersey.
A form of agriculture known as Market...Gardening.

If you don't have a lot of room, but you do have a lot of hungry neighbors with spending money, you don't try to grow a train car full of rice and sell it by the ton; you grow a pickup truck bed full of blueberries and sell them by the handful. (AKA, Truck Farming)

So while it's true that the unpaved parts of NJ are quite pretty, and gorgeous when groomed, the motto on the license plates is a dates-way-back agricultural "we grow the nice stuff, from the refrigerated section" humblebrag.
posted by bartleby at 1:48 PM on August 15, 2020 [22 favorites]


Thank you for sharing this.

The entirely of my New Jersey experience runs through Wildwood in the Eighties. The wide beach...sand that seemed silky to me, a Midwestern kid...morning walks to poke at stranded jellyfish and horseshoe crabs...the best french fries ever from a shack on the beach, and the GODDAM GULLS who stole my packet of them on the last day of my last visit there...

The boardwalk! Where my burly, gold-chain-wearing, CT-based, Italian-American cousins tolerated Iowa-boy (wearing shorts with a *belt*) because the boardwalk girls thought I was cute like a puppy, and where I got to listen to low-stakes Scorcese dialogue...

JOHN: Hey Joey, get me a slice.

JOEY: I got you a slice yestaday, get your own slice.

JOHN: C'mon, get me a slice. It's a buck. You got a buck.

JOEY: Yeah it's a buck, you don't got a buck, you don't get a slice.

JOHN: I wanna slice.

JOEY: Go tell Ma. Tell her, I blew my 'lowance on the Love Hamma game, can please I have a buck, Ma, pleaaassse?

(Iowa boy laughs)

JOHN: What the fuck you laughin' about

Good times!

Also: El Toro looks like it would blow over in a stiff breeze.
posted by Caxton1476 at 1:52 PM on August 15, 2020 [9 favorites]


A group of workers harvests cranberries in a commercial bog in rural New Jersey.

Hahahahahaha.
posted by Literaryhero at 4:22 PM on August 15, 2020


I spent almost ten years in New Jersey and can attest that it is a land of contrasts and most of it is quite lovely. Also that everything between New Brunswick and Camden pretends to be Princeton.
posted by sjswitzer at 4:58 PM on August 15, 2020 [4 favorites]


I grew up in NJ til I was 7 (visiting in the summer thereafter) and it was all bogs, pine trees & lakes, lighthouses and beaches, massive tomatoes and the best produce stands anywhere, and a diner with a 15 page menu on every corner. The whole "NJ is a garbage state" thing you hear had always been very surprising.
posted by moons in june at 5:05 PM on August 15, 2020 [8 favorites]


Part of the bad reputation that New Jersey has is from people who don't live here getting their impression of the state by driving through on the Turnpike. I will admit that through the early 80s, at least, the stretch of the Turnpike south of Newark Airport did smell bad enough to give the rest of the state a bad name. I do wonder how much of NJ's reputation is a leftover from the late 70s/early 80s.
posted by mollweide at 5:30 PM on August 15, 2020 [6 favorites]


I like when it's mentioned NJ's the most densely populated state in the Union, but they often don't give you a sense of what that means.
New Jersey has half a million more people than Quebec.
It's also about the same size in land area and population as Israel.


Not to mention that the Pine Barrens covers a whopping 22% of NJ but is barely populated in comparison to the rest of the state ("sparsely populated at about 15 people/square mile, in contrast to New Jersey's average population density elsewhere of 1,000 people/square mile").
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:38 PM on August 15, 2020 [6 favorites]


So while it's true that the unpaved parts of NJ are quite pretty, and gorgeous when groomed, the motto on the license plates is a dates-way-back agricultural "we grow the nice stuff, from the refrigerated section" humblebrag.

Well...You explained it well but I will complicate it a bit. It wasn't so much that they were humblebragging about the "nice" stuff - it's that before the cold chain really solidified, which wasn't until anytime before the 1890s, there were no other sources for fresh table vegetables and fruits than farms nearby. They couldn't make the trip from other regions, so "truck farming" - where "truck" is produce - had to happen within a day's reach of a major city. New Jersey was really well positioned to provision NYC and Philly, and it has excellent growing conditions. It is some of the richest and most productive land in the country.

And though it may date way back, agriculture is still New Jersey's third largest industry. NJ is a major producer of tomatoes (for canning as well as eating), corn, melons, blueberries, cranberries, peaches, asparagus, bell peppers, apples, nursery plants, and lots and lots of specialty crops like bok choy, endive, and snap peas. We are also a huge supplier of seafood. We also have a decent chunk of dairying in the Northwest part of the state.
posted by Miko at 6:07 PM on August 15, 2020 [13 favorites]


Yeah, there's one big interstate motorway, that you have to drive the entire length of New Jersey on, in order to go north or south along the Atlantic coast. That's also where the paint factories and sewage treatment plants got placed. So if that's all you see, it leaves a bad impression. "Ha, ha, we've crossed into Jersey, roll up your windows!"

And without getting into a whole bit, Jersey suffers from the consequences of the old wisdom: "You don't buy the best-looking house in the neighborhood. You buy the ugly house, across the street from it. Much cheaper, and you get the view."

That leaves you with a good deal, but all your neighbors talking about your ugly house. NJ looks across the Hudson River and sees (awed tone) *the Manhattan Skyline*. NYC looks across the river and sees...a cluster of outlet malls and the factory where they manufacture the red powder for Flamin' Hot Cheetos.

The nature is lovely, and the living is good, but the built environment is pretty Meh. Someone in the late 40's-early 60's created a perfectly serviceable suburb with leafy residential streets of detached houses, a shopping center to buy their groceries and do their dry cleaning at, some light industry and office parks for them to work in. Then they used the Clone and Stamp tool to fill in the whole rest of the map.

If you find that sort of thing nauseatingly mediocre, you kinda need to leave New Jersey entirely (and then part of Pennsylvania, or New York state) to get away from it. Thus anyone in the region who wants to peg something as mediocre, or tacky, or just Not Like Us Cosmopolitans/Pastoralists, rolls their eyes and says 'ugh, that's so Jersey'.
posted by bartleby at 6:10 PM on August 15, 2020 [1 favorite]


the built environment is pretty Meh

You say that, I give you Asbury Park, Ocean Grove, Mt. Tabor, Flemington, Atlantic Highlands, Red Bank, Cape May. Suburbanization is garbage everywhere - NJ has some really interesting and unique architecture in the older towns, notable not only for a few great specimens but for whole swaths of intact pre-highway landscape.
posted by Miko at 6:15 PM on August 15, 2020 [12 favorites]


I was kicking myself for my misspent decade in Jersey not having visited the magnificent El Toro mentioned above, but feel slightly better learning I’d left six years before it was built. When travel is a thing again, it’s on my shortlist.
posted by sjswitzer at 6:22 PM on August 15, 2020 [2 favorites]


The Pine Barrens...22%...barely populated...
Because that's where the local cryptid* lives! And our carnivourous plants! It's environmentally responsible habitat preservation! The Revolutionaries made cannonballs from its natural bog iron!

*to make the Jersey Devil, take your typical devil accessories; hooves, goat horns, long black claws, bat wings, and a triangle-point tail.
Then put them on a kangaroo.
But y'know, make it spooky, and something you run into when lost in the woods, Blair Witch style.
posted by bartleby at 6:23 PM on August 15, 2020 [1 favorite]


Miko, you're absolutely right, but ssh don't tell people or they'll come.
Stick with mollweide / the general public's perception that there was a beautiful Before Time, and then the 70's came, and a Great Shadow passed across the land. And its name was...Paramus. and its forces were legion.
posted by bartleby at 6:28 PM on August 15, 2020 [3 favorites]


A beautiful ode to my beautiful Garden State! Thank you for posting.
posted by kimberussell at 8:19 PM on August 15, 2020 [1 favorite]




None of my haunts were pictured, but thinking of the place, and that song by The Boss, did make me think of a really great summer I spent in Seaside Park in 1984.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:41 PM on August 15, 2020 [1 favorite]


Not pictured: a Jersey whistle
posted by Ferreous at 6:10 AM on August 16, 2020


Two pictures of my hometown, Morristown. Pretty little burg but I can't really afford to live there now that it seems to have been taken over by people who work in Manhattan and driven up housing prices.
posted by octothorpe at 6:44 AM on August 16, 2020


Like a lot of people, my visits to New Jersey have been short and to parts of the state that didn't seem all that enticing. These photos are great.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:48 AM on August 16, 2020 [1 favorite]


Miko, you're absolutely right, but ssh don't tell people or they'll come.

You are right, Bartleby - I broke my own cardinal rule, never push back against New Jersey negativity. There are already more than enough people here and we need to keep the secrets we have left.
posted by Miko at 7:57 AM on August 16, 2020 [2 favorites]


I love Jersey, I grew up in ocean county and love the whole strange ethos of the state, that said I know I could never afford to live there.

Now I'm in the Midwest and can't find a good pizza to save my life.
posted by Ferreous at 8:31 AM on August 16, 2020 [3 favorites]


I used to think the same, and housing costs are high, but plenty of low- and moderate-income people do live here (like me). It's not at all impossible.
posted by Miko at 8:53 AM on August 16, 2020


Miko, I think you meant to say "yes, literally every house in every town is a million+ dollars, please don't move here", right?
posted by cyrusdogstar at 9:26 AM on August 16, 2020 [1 favorite]


This really hits me in the feels. My life goal is to get back to jersey. I was born and raised in Gloucester county, always vacationed in a campground by Cape May, worked for 2 summers in Wildwood with a bunch of other degenerates and foreign summer workers, went to THE College of New Jersey (no, it's not Rutgers), worked on the Princeton campus for 3 years, lived in Asbury Park right behind the Stone Pony, camped in the water gap area, stayed with friends in Jersey City and Bayonne, and I eventually moved to Philadelphia (which, let's get real, is more a piece of NJ than PA) so I could afford a house within reasonable commute of my job.

Now I'm a bit stuck way far away (see my question history...) but even the move to way far away is a way to make a business and save money to go back to a low/mid middle-class life in Jersey. It's such a beautiful and diverse place and the people are more straightforward and less pretend than other places I've been in the US.

My parents are property owners and my younger brother is an economic refugee out in Arizona who also can't wait to up his career experience and move back. WE joke (but maybe its not a joke) about who butters up the 'rents more to try to get that sweet sweet NJ property inherited (cause the taxes are as high as rent, but the schools are much less shit than neighboring states).
posted by WeekendJen at 9:52 AM on August 16, 2020 [1 favorite]


ob1quixote: “[T]hat song by The Boss, did make me think of a really great summer I spent in Seaside Park in 1984.”
After sleeping and having coffee (CAW-fee) and rereading what I wrote and thinking about that song, I realized I needed to add the disclaimer that I was just a kid in 1984 and spent my summer on the boardwalk — mostly the Carousel Arcade — not under it.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:35 PM on August 16, 2020 [2 favorites]


Miko, I think you meant to say "yes, literally every house in every town is a million+ dollars, please don't move here", right?

Dammit I did it again.

WeekendJen, I had a similar trajectory, finally did move back and am so grateful I did. I lived for 20 years in New England (various places) where I had a wonderful time, made lifelong friends, really enjoyed myself - but there was always that itch that New England just could not scratch - the diversity, the variety, the cosmopolitan-ness, the perfect blend of go-go-go and laid back...all the stuff that's so unique to New Jersey. After living in a lot of places and traveling to nearly every state in the country, I realized that there really is nowhere quite like it, so in 2015 I started a long-term process of building the blocks to get back here. I did manage it, and it sucks that coronavirus hit and that's made it challenging, but I had the opportunity to move away agin for work and turned it down - it was a non-starter. I'm just too happy to be here.

Yes, I know I could live in twice the square footage elsewhere for half the money (and did for a while). Yes, I know I wouldn't have to deal with the same degree of congestion and overdevelopment elsewhere as I do here. But I have come to the conclusion that this is where I fit best and am happiest, and I'm going to make it work. We live in a modest house, and when my Midwestern relatives come to visit they are polite but I can see them wrinkling their noses that we don't have a 2 car garage, full finished basement, 3 beds and 2 baths on 3 acres like them, even though we're paying more than they are - but I can bike to the beach in 20 minutes, same for any number of parks, I can be in the heart of the city in 90 minutes, in non-pandemic times we never lack for interesting things to do or entertainment to see, and I don't worry about whether my neighbors can tolerate people who are different from them. It ends up feeling all worth it to me.

Damn I did it AGAIN
posted by Miko at 5:16 PM on August 16, 2020 [8 favorites]


As a non-American, all I ever heard about New Jersey was it being the punchline of sitcom jokes.
posted by Harald74 at 10:50 PM on August 16, 2020 [1 favorite]


Understandable! Everywhere has somewhere.
We don't know anything about them, but when BBC panel show guests make cracks about, say, Milton Keynes or the M25(?), it goes right over our heads; but we recognize the tone.
posted by bartleby at 11:08 PM on August 16, 2020


The other thing I miss so much is the directness of NJ communication. I get so tired of midwest polite dancing around the thing they're trying to say. I'd rather someone tell me to fuck off than deal with a 10 minute conversation that vaguely hints at that sentiment in the margins.
posted by Ferreous at 7:19 AM on August 17, 2020 [4 favorites]


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