New Jersey

I constantly hear jokes on tv and elsewhere about NJ, and how it is some sort of hideous ugly wasteland ridden with toxic waste and pollution and don’t hear much good things about it’s inhabitants either. I have never been to NJ, and know little to nothing about it. Therefore, I don’t “get” all the jokes. How much truth is there to these jokes and cutdowns about Jersey, anyway? Details please

Some parts of NJ are picturesqe; others are rather ugly. I suppose every state has similar features.

The reason NJ gets picked on is that a huge ugly area is just across the river from New York City. Driving south on I-95 from NYC, you drive through some mind-numbingly ugly scenery, mainly lots of widely-spaced industrial areas.

So when 7 million New Yorkers look westward, they see NJ as ugly, assume the whole state’s that way, and make jokes.

AWB pretty much nailed it there. I lived in NJ for 10 years and the NJ I grew up in is nothing like the stereotype. We lived on a large wooded lot with a small brook running through the backyard. We had farms nearby, lots of woods with old stone fences, fields for hunting, etc. This was in Hunterdon County, which borders Pennsylvania.

New Jersey actually has such a wide range of features (especially for such a small state) that no one description would do it justice. You have the Jersey Shore, Atlantic City, the Pine Barrens, Ski Hills, the Delaware River and Water Gap areas, and many historical “quaint” towns. Then you have the other side with cities such as Newark in the North and Camden near Philly which are, so to speak, not quite so picturesque.

I recently spent time on business in Ft. Lee, NJ. Yikes, what a pit. Ft. Lee is directly across the bridge from NYC, and it was just awful. There was a murder two buildings down from my hotel the first night I was there. There were run down buildings, filthy streets and just an overall nasty atmosphere.

On the plus side, I was right down the road from the “Cheap Beer Depot”. How can you beat that?

I have visited other parts of NJ and it’s just beautiful, though. All states have nasty sections, and people choose to focus on those parts rather then the nice ones.

Isn’t Cleveland a victim of the same sort of “bad rap” syndrome?


I was born in New Jersey, I grew up in New Jersey, I lived there until 3 years ago.
I agree it is mostly(not only) Northeastern NJ that is not so nice. Delaware Water Gap is lovely, the beaches are not the wastelands they are joked to be. It has such varied living, unlike any I’ve seen, the shore, the urban, farm, forest, typical suburban, very upper-class, extremely upper-class, etc. It’s proximity to NYC/Phillie gives it equal diversity, culture, and activities/tourist attractions, etc. It is interesting historically, with many revolutionary war sites and buildings/museums and an interesting Native American heritage. It is quite picturesque in many, many parts of the state, with all 4 seasons, autumn is breathtaking, snow in the winter, spring and summer are fresh and green, it is, after all, the Garden State. I love New Jersey, I will always love New Jersey, I may reside in California, but New Jersey will always be home.

Sorry - I used to pass that Cheap Beer Depot every day. So, I finally just had to go in.

“Cheap” it aint.


Cleveland’s going to need a long while to live down the fact that the Cuyahoga River caught fire. Twice.

Part of New Jersey’s problem is also that so many people think of it as nothing more than the land around the New Jersey Turnpike. (“You’re from NJ? What exit?”) And the NJ Turnpike takes you through some of the ugliest parts of the state, particularly in the north. It’s almost like they went out of their way to make sure all the nastiest, most polluting industries and the worst excesses of urban sprawl would be visible to thousands and thousands of commuters every bleeping day.


Not true. It’s also the land around the Garden State Parkway. :smiley:

I was born and raised in NJ and still live there. Although I love NJ I can see why some people have a warped picture of this state. One reason not mentiomned is the fact that so many NY tourists fly into Newark airport and then drive to NY and thus the only part of NJ they see is the worst looking area. These people then go back home and tell their family/friends what a dump NJ is. Of course it doesn’t help our reputation that we had the most Superfund sites in the country. But most people who visit our state and see what we really have to offer are pleasantly surprised by what they find.

psycat90, where are you from? I grew up in Essex county but now I live in Ocean county on the northern edge of the pine barrens. Maybe our paths have crossed.


Thing 1, I was born in Fort Dix, grew up in Middlesex County, (Monroe Twp.), lived in Old Bridge, Garfield & Highland Park for short spells, and lived in South River(near New Brunswick, exit 9 NJTPK) most of my adult life.

Cool. I grew up in Essex Fells (probably never heard of it), but I went to Rutgers (I worked in Highland Park for beer money) and now I live in New Egypt which is right next to Fort Dix. We have probably trod some of the same earth.


Anyone else notice that MagicalSilverKey started a thread asking if Jersey folk were really as bad as reputed jsut after this board’s most vociferous Jersey cheerleader started a thread…

That’s hilarious. I wonder if he did it on purpose?

Of course, five million Philadelphians looking east and seeing another ugly section of NJ doesn’t help much, either.

Cleveland really isn’t as bad as everyone says, but never, ever, eat anything that came out of the lake. The heavy industry is on the decline (only one steel mill and no car plants left in city limits… In the fifties, we produced more steel than Pittsburgh and more cars than Detroit), and modern Cleveland is shifting its economy towards banking, telecommunications, and tourism, all of which are much less polluting. Of course, the emphasis on tourism has also provided an incentive to clean the place up a bit, and has brought in attractions like the Rock Hall and the Great Lakes Science Center.

By the way, the distinction of the Cuyahoga River isn’t that it’s burned… Plenty of rivers have done that. The Cuyahoga is just the only one to have ever spontaneously combusted.

A joke that summarizes my own (lack of) knowledge of New Jersey…

Why does New Jersey have the most toxic waste dumps and California has the most lawyers?

New Jersey got first pick.

NJ is the most densly populated state in the US.

It also has alot of hideous chemical plants, some close by major highways and bridges.

Zette—some historical background on Fort Lee. It used to be the film capitol of the U.S., from about 1908–18. It had more film studios than anywhere else in the country. Then during the coal shortage of WWI, most studios moved to the warmth of California. When the Geo. Washington Bridge went up in the 1930s, all the abandoned studios were demolished, and the factories and houses you see now went up.

I live in a quaint small NJ town only a 30-minute commute from New York. Nice, quiet, picturesque. And cheaper than Brooklyn!

I used to visit my cousins in Medford Lakes, NJ, and I have to say the place was gorgeous. Beautiful lakes, sandy evergreen forests, nice people. Mosquitoes were a bit of a problem, but that’s a problem I can handle.

What really ticks me off about northern Jersey is the incomprehensible road network. It’s like a handful of soggy linguini, with bad signs, potholes and patches, no left turns anywhere, and of course Jersey walls (or do they call them Denver walls in Jersey–I bet that’s already been covered). I’ll freely admit that I can’t run with the big dogs up there.

He may have been a genius, but then again, he spent the last years of his life in NJ.

I grew up in Philly. NJ is what you have to drive through to get to the shore.

“I grew up in Philly. NJ is what you have to drive through to get to the shore.”

Of course, you could always just stay in Philly.



You live in South River? That’s where I grew up. I just visited last week.

I agree with what everyone above has said about New Yorkers picking up their impressions from the NJ Turnpike. But I think that an even more evil impression is generated in the vicinity of Newark Airport. That’s near the refineries at Linden and thereabouts. The smell, even inside a car or bus with rolled-up windows, is truly hideous. (The refineries are at the end of the pipelines that come up from Texas and elsewhere, and where the docks along the Arthur Kill and the Kill van Kull can bring in ships to load and unload)Worse still, at night the sky is lit up by the burnoff torches atop the refineries. It makes the place look like the opening shots of Bladerunner, without the “pyramids”, and with “Smell-o-Vision” olfactory accompaniment.

Of course, away from these refineries the state in gorgeous and interesting. My home town used to be one of th places where fruits and vegetables were grown, then shipped to NYC via the inland waterways. Sadly, the orchards are now being taken out. The land is too valuable, and t’s being turned over to business parks and condos. I’ll miss buying bushels of apples, or hiking along Cranberry Road and camping out within walk of South River.
By the way, Psycat – go t the Public Library and look up my article on Weequehela in the magazine New Jersey History (I donated a copy to the South River library. If they don’t have one, let me know – contact me through ) Proof that interesting things CAN happen n your hometown.