What do the various New Yorkers think of NJ?
November 23, 2004 2:12 AM   Subscribe

What does New Jersey mean to a New Yorker - and does it mean different things according to what borough you live in? [More inside.]

On a recent episode of The Sopranos, during a meeting of "Mafia" bosses, one guy justifies his reneging on a debt to Tony Soprano, when reminded he's a "made man" and a boss, by saying "Hey, he's from New Jersey...!"

For the benefit of foreigners (to whom New Jersey is a little bit Sinatra and a little bit Springsteen), just what is the status of New Jersey to New Yorkers? Is it considered provincial or suburban or somehow beyond the pale?

I sort of get the "bridge and tunnel" snobbery but I wonder if this snobbery - if it exists beyond the world of fictional organized crime - is even deeper and more distant with regards to what is nominally a different state. What are the stereotypes in play here?

For instance, would someone from Brooklyn look down on someone from New Jersey, you know, if they were prejudiced and unenlightened in general? Thank you for any answers - they will greatly enhance understanding of The Sopranos, Sinatra's Hoboken monologues and much besides! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso to Society & Culture (53 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've heard it said that New Jersey is to New York as Essex is to London. I take that to mean that New Jersey is the low-rent area outside New York that's the butt of a lot of jokes, populated by (possibly ex-) criminals, and those with poor-to-no taste.
posted by influx at 2:39 AM on November 23, 2004


(I am assuming by "New Yorker" you mean people from New York City, not people from New York State.)

I often say that the Hudson River might as well be a thousand miles wide. The differences between New York City and New Jersey are substantial, even though they are just across the river from each other. They feel different. People look different. They talk differently. They vote differently. They buy different things, have different kinds of jobs, different goals and motives. If you get 100 people from New York City and New Jersey in a room, I bet you everyone in that line will know which of them are from NJ in just about the time it takes to shake hands.

Brooklyn and Queens don't have these problems, though Staten Island does (I have no comment on the Bronx at this time). I think maybe it's that NJ and SI are not connected enough. Many a person has moved to New Jersey thinking it was close enough to get a taste of the City, only to find it isn't. For one thing, you really need a car there, except in the areas which are supplied by the PATH train (NJ and Manhattan only)--which does not have the same frequency, cheapness, or pervasiveness as the subway, and does not permit the use of Metrocards (our magnetic cards we buy rides with for all buses and subways). For another, while there are plenty of commuter trains, they're even more expensive than the subway. So it's not easy just to hop on any one of many subway lines and take a jaunt: going to New Jersey requires planning and a guarantee of a good time. And that means that NJ is not really a part of the city, no matter what they say about Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Its ties aren't strong enough.

Which is the other thing: N.J. doesn't have that free for all hedonism found in NYC. The youth areas are like a University Greektown. Very white, very preppy, very unimaginative. (N.J. is still more ethnically diverse than about half of the rest of these United States, but nowhere near as diverse as NYC).

Of course, there is plenty of commuting for jobs out of NJ and into NYC, but those people tend to go home at night, at it's almost always people at a certain stage of life: settled down or ready to, tired of the ambition and the chaos, not interested in bars and restaurants, no longer on the hunt for a life partner.

Regarding anyone looking down on people from NJ: Of course we do! But that happens every place in the US I've ever been. In Missouri they make fun of people from Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, and Arkansas. In Oklahoma they make fun of people from Texas. In DC they make fun of people from Virginia (and from NYC). In Chicago they make fun of people from Wisconsin. North Carolina and South Carolina make fun of each other, just as North and South Dakota do. Just about any combination you can think of where two states are next to each other, people make fun of each other. Nothing special there. Usually it's light-hearted and on the order of, "What do you mean you use tomato-based barbecue sauce on your pork? Kentuckians are heathens!"
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:47 AM on November 23, 2004 [1 favorite]


I pretty much agree with Mo Nickels, most of the differences between New Yorkers and New Jersey are black and white. As a former New Jersey boy, and soon to be current again, I can tell you what I grew up with in terms of New York(ers).

I grew up 20 minutes from the city and for most of my life can remember every time that we hit up the major malls on the weekend, there would be more cars from New York, then from New Jersey. Being the bright kid I was I always asked why people from New York would come into our (at the time) crappy malls. My mother would turn to me and whisper two words that would forever become intrenched into my young fragile jewish mind.... SALES TAX.

Most of the time I would hear jokes from other people about how they are horrible drivers (not really, just offensive in a defensive area), rude to sales people as well as other customers (hey, that's New York), and cause way to much traffic on Saturday's.

Overall, I grew up and realized that most of my family is from New York, the area I grew up in more resembles New York state then any other part of New Jersey, and that if I can save a few bucks by schlepping it over to the garden state, i'd do it.
posted by Derek at 3:43 AM on November 23, 2004


Keep in mind that not all of New Jersey is suburban New York, though. There's a tendency to think that way, even in this country-- we hear "New Jersey" and immediately think of NYC suburbs and Newark.

The northern third of NJ fits that description. The southern third is closely associated with Philadelphia the way that the north is with NYC. The middle third is farms and colleges.

The area depicted in "the Sopranos" gets most of the press. But the southern part of the state (where I'll be spending american Thanksgiving) has some neat places, too. Like Camden.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:44 AM on November 23, 2004


New Jersey stereotypes: bad drivers, gold chains and track suits, suburban hellscapes, gum popping, teased hair, Turnpike traffic, smokestacks, awful accents, dopey mobsters, white limos - basically everything unchic.

Naturally, there are beautiful beaches that aren't Wildwood, swathes of picturesque farmland, upscale suburban enclaves, probably even some bookshops, but you asked about the stereotypes.

would someone from Brooklyn look down on someone from New Jersey

Oh god yes!

You know you're from New Jersey if....
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:28 AM on November 23, 2004


Mo Nickels - I feel I have to thank you personally for the number of times you've enlightened me about a very varied motley of subjects (the last time being that link to rejection slips you posted) i was entirely ignorant of. Is there anything you don't know; know about or, if you don't, could quickly find out about? I begin to suspect that no, there isn't. Truthfully. Thanks. I hope Encyclopaedia Britannica, if they want to revive their fortunes, know that you're available.

For people like me, you're the missing link between old-style bibliographic research and the Internet age, valuing both and showing any artificial oppositions to be either false or wrong-minded. That's something - and I mean something in a very Portuguese way, meaning "a lot".

Cheers!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:31 AM on November 23, 2004


The southern third is closely associated with Philadelphia the way that the north is with NYC. The middle third is farms and colleges.

Having lived in Philadelphia, I'd say it's more the middle third that's associated with Philly, at least the western side of the middle third of NJ. Camden is in the middle of the state, not in the southern portion, although it may seem that way to people living in northern NJ. There are also farms and colleges in the middle third. The southern portion of the state is more rural, as well as being associated with the ocean (Cape May).

I agree that the northern third is what most people consider to be "suburban NYC".
posted by cahlers at 5:12 AM on November 23, 2004


Camden is in the middle of the state, not in the southern portion, although it may seem that way to people living in northern NJ.

My girlfriend, who is from Camden County or thereabouts (but thankfully not Camden itself) always says that she's from "Southern Jersey." But then I looked at a map, and cahlers is spot-on. Bitch lied to me!
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:18 AM on November 23, 2004


Regarding anyone looking down on people from NJ: Of course we do!

The reason you hear about NJ so much is because you hear about NYC even more, and NJ is basically NYC's little dorky brother that wants to tag along and be "cool" with the big kids.

Jersey has some great things about it: some of the wealthiest towns in the country (Upper Saddle River, Ridgewood, etc.), some of the best universities in the country (Princeton, Rutgers), some of the most diverse populations in the country (lots of Indians, Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, etc.) -- unfortunately New Jersey is also a kind of dumping ground for Philly and NYC refugees. When you're tired of the city and want to settle down, you go to one of Jersey's billion suburban towns.

The flip side is that people raised in Jersey have a tendancy to develop an insecurity complex because they're just a few steps from the Greatest City on the Entire Earth Forever and Ever, So Help Us God, Inc. (tm) (c). What generally happens is that the Jersey-ite either moves to NYC/Philly, or becomes a Jersey Defender. Me, I'm a Jersey Defender.

What's particularly irritating to Jersey Defenders is when some backwater n00b from the middle of Dumbfuckingshire (population: 800) comes along and starts making fun of New Jersey like they know what they're talking about. New Yorkers can make fun of Jersey. They're allowed, because they understand. People from PA can sort-of make fun of Jersey. Everywhere else can simply shut up. You do not know of what you speak. Watching a couple episodes of The Sopranos doesn't count.

It'd be like me going to England, walking up to a bunch of Manchester United fans who are in the middle of making fun of the Liverpool players, then start laughing and smacking everyone on the back like I have any idea at all what they're talking about. I would probably get beaten, and I would deserve it. Same applies to Jersey detractors who've never been east of the Mississippi. Beat them senseless, says I.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:21 AM on November 23, 2004 [1 favorite]


What's particularly irritating to Jersey Defenders is when some backwater n00b from the middle of Dumbfuckingshire (population: 800) comes along and starts making fun of New Jersey like they know what they're talking about. New Yorkers can make fun of Jersey. They're allowed, because they understand. People from PA can sort-of make fun of Jersey. Everywhere else can simply shut up. You do not know of what you speak.

Priceless (and laughing-out-loud making). Thank you too, Civil_Disobedient. I really like the way MetaFilter members respond to foreigners' questions same as they would to a neighbours' - it's such a lesson in not being condescending or patronizing!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:30 AM on November 23, 2004


Even though I screwed up on the apostrophes *sigh*
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:34 AM on November 23, 2004


I grew up about 1km from NJ, in NY (about 7 miles north of PARAMUS). My impression of the state is one of diverse undesirability; a combination of suburban equivalence (to NY) suburban blandness, a different Long Island; industrial ickyness (fused with the unfulfilled promise of industrial coolness; tacky shoreness; and non-descript Northeast Corridorness. I'd prefer meeting a woman from NJ than Long Island. Also, prefer a woman from NJ to one from Connecticut.

Most fascinating: why Hoboken is so, SO less desirable than Brooklyn--this is nearly an obsession.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:36 AM on November 23, 2004


Meanwhile, thanks to silly prejudices, for three years I got to enjoy a gorgeous brownstone in Jersey City for probably less than half what it would cost in Brooklyn, while dining at a restaurant on the corner that would have gotten two stars from the NY Times (but they won't give stars to a restaurant that isn't in New York!) and paying less for the PATH train than what a subway fare would be.

And by the way, Mo, the PATH train is actually cheaper than the subway. It does take MetroCards now, and it runs at all hours of the day and night. And my friend's boss just bought a Victorian rowhouse in JC for 900,000 bucks. The times they are a-changin'. Or whatever.

Civil_Disobedient, your answer was absolutely SPOT ON, too.
posted by bcwinters at 6:10 AM on November 23, 2004 [1 favorite]


The Sopranos issue is a little different. On the show (and in real life apparently), the New Jersey families are directly subordinate to the New York families. New Jersey is small potatoes as far as mob activities. So the New Yorkers would consider Tony a big fish in a small pond.
posted by smackfu at 6:38 AM on November 23, 2004


Ok, I gotta further derail this thread.

I was born in Burlington County, lived my life in Camden and Atlantic Counties, and went to school in Gloucester County.

I'm from "South Jersey", not "New Jersey". World of difference.

First thing to know: Camden is in South Jersey. It's not the "middle". New Brunswick is the "middle". Why's that? Because the vast majority of Atlantic, Cumberland, and Cape May Counties resemble Kentucky, and we don't go into them much. It's like how a lot of Atlantic, Ocean, and Burlington Counties are the "Pine Barrens"...a hugely dense scrub pine forest unlike anywhere else on Earth, so we have to keep it, even though it's basically ick and you're not allowed to build there (although that started changing 15 years ago).

Second thing to know: South Jersey is a world away from North Jersey. Farms, great towns, horses, open fields, playing in the woods. It's good times.

Third thing to know: South Jersey is basically Gloucester, Camden, Burlington and Atlantic Counties. They run from Philly southeast to Atlantic City, Ocean City, and Wildwood. Every highway heads this direction, except for the few that are arteries towards NYC or Trenton. We have the White Horse Pike, the Black Horse Pike, the Atlantic City Expressway, and the various towns that grew up in between.

South Jersey served basically two different purposes throughout history. Back when Philly was just as important as NYC, they needed food, so the "Garden State" was put to use serving Philly. Meanwhile the Philadelphia elite noticed it was so beautiful that they moved over. That's how Gloucester and Camden counties got started. Camden, as late as the 1940s, was like Ridgewood South. We're still scratching our heads over what the fuck happened there.

As people started taking the turnpikes to Atlantic City and Ocean City, many many towns grew up to service them on their way. Places like Berlin (used to be known as Lon' a Coming) and Hammonton were waystations for people to stay the night while going to AC by horse and buggy. Camden and Woodbury were places that urbanites spent weekends away from the city. Recently Egg Harbor has grown into a thriving "Little Cherry Hill," providing Atlantic City and Margate with their Olive Garden and Red Lobster needs.

So, the point of this lesson is this: While North Jersey might serve as the butt of jokes for New Yorkers until they realize that hey, they might actually want to live there, South Jersey has always had a vital, thriving relationship with Philadelphia and Atlantic City. Therefore any derision a New Yorker has for it probably stems from a hidden jealousy that their New Jersey doesn't hold a candle to South Jersey.
posted by taumeson at 6:49 AM on November 23, 2004


Most "New Yorkers" are actually from somewhere else. Many of these people hate where they're from: they were picked on by jocks in high school, no one appreciated their art, whatever. I'm sure you've seen the movie version. For a lot of these people, New Jersey is kind of the local symbol of what they left behind, so it becomes the object of their derision. In the argot of New Yorkers, New Jersey is shorthand for the opposite of everything held to be good about New York, whether or not these attributes can justly be ascribed to New Jersey. If New York is fashionable, New Jersey means unfashionable. If New York is exciting, New Jersey means boring. If tomorrow, the editorial board of the New York Times decided that the best thing about New York was the large number of people with visible ear and nose hair, New Jersey would instantly come to mean 'the place where no one has visible ear or nose hair.'
posted by jeb at 7:05 AM on November 23, 2004 [1 favorite]


I'm with Civil_Disobedient. Unless you've lived or visited or have some sort of connection here, you don't have the knowledge to say anything. I lived all of my life in northern New Jersey, and believe me, I'll make fun of it too, but I'll also defend it fiercely. It's not all like the stereotypes mentioned above.

What you have to understand is that New Jersey is a relatively small state and New York City is the largest and most diverse city in the world. Nowhere else can ever compare. Why New Yorkers feel the need to pick on New Jersey is beyond me. If they're so superior, why the constant degradation and ragging?

On preview - taumeson touts all the goodness of South Jersey, which I don't disagree with, but every section of the Garden State has its faults. To say that South Jersey (or anyplace) is a utopia is just silly.
posted by MsVader at 7:08 AM on November 23, 2004


It's funny how my perspective on Jersey and New York has changed over the years. I grew up 25 miles west of NYC in a cute little town called Morristown. Growing up, I felt like a hick when I took the train into "The City" and was sure that locals could tell I was not a New Yorker just looking at me.
Now since I've lived the mountains of Pennsylvania for the last 22 years, when I go back to Jersey, like I will this weekend, I feel like a complete Jethro. My mind is full of thoughts like: "boy they drive fast here", "why don't strangers make eye contact or want to chat about football with you here?", "Six dollars for a Rolling Rock are you nuts?" or "$700K for a house, I could buy a whole street in Greensburg for that much". And when I make it into the city, it feels more like a theme park now than a real place where people actually live.
posted by octothorpe at 7:34 AM on November 23, 2004


Holy crap! THE PATH TAKES METROCARDS! I need to get to Jersey more. It's been, what? A year? Two years? Thanks for the tip. (Price-wise, I meant the unlimited Metrocard per-ride cost was cheaper than the one-off ticket price of the PATH, which is a very unfair comparison, but then I was speaking to the idea of New Yorkers trekking to NJ without a car, and also I wanted to rationalize why, as ParisParamus puts it, Brooklyn is hot and Hoboken is not.)

Miguel, thanks for the compliments. You apparently are ignoring all the times I'm a complete bastard to people in the Blue, Green, and Grey. I'd never go work for Encylopedia Brittanica, by the way. I've got the best job in the world as a lexicographer for Oxford University Press, and if I'm to leave here, they're either going to have to fire me and unchain my body from the shelves in my scriptorium, or they're going to have to keep me on until I die and then bury me in a soft bed of three-by-five citation cards.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:44 AM on November 23, 2004


Second thing to know: South Jersey is a world away from North Jersey. Farms, great towns, horses, open fields, playing in the woods. It's good times.

The cool thing is even how we Jersians can further distill the hierarchy. When you say "North" Jersey, you really mean "Northeast" Jersey.

(tongue-in-cheek snob filter)True "horse country" in NJ is Somerset (where the US Equestrian Team is located) and Hunterdon (where I grew up) counties. These are technically central Jersey, but further west than the smelly parts.

To those of us who grew up around dairy cows, quaint revolutionary war-era villages, rolling farms, and woods, both Northeast Jersey (chemical plants, people who talk funny) and South Jersey (remote, hickish, flat, as boring as Delaware, the 51st state) are targets of our scorn. (and yes, we're still defensive around New Yorkers, even though deep down we know we're superior). And octothorpe, we refer to the area west of us as "the wilderness the indians call penn-syl-van-ia".(/tongue-in-cheek snob filter)

I kid because I love my little state that could. And yes Miguel, most New Yorkers look down on us, but are happy to crowd into our IKEA (3% sales tax in Elizabeth!).
posted by jalexei at 7:44 AM on November 23, 2004


Most of my post has been covered already but I'm posting anyway. You gotta problem wit dat?

Yonkers (motto: "Not Just a Pretty Name") born and raised and lived in Manhattan for several years. A lot of posts have When I think of Jersey I think of:

Stink. There are lots of factories and refineries and the lke that generate noxious odors.

Corruption: Newark and Jersey City are (or have been) the gold standard for municipal corruption.

Lesser beings: C-D's dorky younger brother comment above is apt. Jerseyites are depicted, fairly or not, as bad drivers, bad dressers, bad tippers. They just don't quite get it.

Would-be-NYers: They'd like to live in Manhattan but don't have the money, the drive, the toughness it takes to make it in NY. But they want you to think of them as Manhattanites but they aren't. I'm looking at you, Hoboken. "The PATH train is so quick on convenient it's just like living in the city". Yeah, right.

Bridge-and-Tunnel (B&T): People who come to Manhattan on Friday and Saturday nights to go clubs and are readily recognizable by their not-quite-hip attire and behavior. Anyone who has to use the above conveyances qualifies; those from Brooklyn, Queens, LI, but first and foremost are those from Jersey.

Swimming, Hiking, Exploring, etc: some of the best outdoor places accesible to NYC are in NJ. Cape May, the Pine Barrens, waterfalls, Franklin Mines for rock hounds,
secret fossil collecting locations I cannot reveal, Delaware Gap, and lots more I can't think of at the moment.

Now that I no longer live in Manhattan I've gotten over most of my arrogance and realize that the New Jersey stereotypes aren't accurate. The more two groups of people are indistinguishable to the outside world the more those groups feel a need to distinguish themselves. Think of Catholics and Protestants Northern Ireland; Outside of church who can tell them apart? Yet they fought bitterly for decades. To the rest of the country, there's little or no difference between NY and NJ. Residents of both have the same accent, act the same, really are the same.

I'll get in trouble for this but to anyone from Manhattan, Jersey and Brooklyn and Queens and Staten Island are really all one place. The Bronx somehow is a separate entity though.

And Sinatra isn't Jersey. Yeah, he was born and raised in Hoboken, but "New Jersey, New Jersey" wasn't one of his signature songs. "If you can make it there you're a shmuck everywhere"?
posted by TimeFactor at 7:46 AM on November 23, 2004


One of my favorite autobiographies paints a fascinating picture of the seamier aspects of the fine state of New Jersey.
posted by naomi at 7:53 AM on November 23, 2004


And octothorpe, we refer to the area west of us as "the wilderness the indians call penn-syl-van-ia".(/tongue-in-cheek snob filter)
Growing up we callled it "Pennsyltucky." Oh well, at least we still have West Virginia to make fun of. Everyone seems to need someone else to think of as more of a hick than they are.
posted by octothorpe at 8:02 AM on November 23, 2004


I'd never go work for Encylopedia Brittanica, by the way. I've got the best job in the world as a lexicographer for Oxford University Press, and if I'm to leave here, they're either going to have to fire me and unchain my body from the shelves in my scriptorium, or they're going to have to keep me on until I die and then bury me in a soft bed of three-by-five citation cards.

Cockleheart words warmer than the pleasant fire burning right in front of me at this very moment of the afternoon, Mo - and, in true O.E.D. fashion, you subtly corrected two of my spelling mistakes into the bargain. That too says a lot. All power to you - how gratifying to have the spirit of James Murray hovering agreeably over us!

P.S. If it's any consolation (or vengeance of a sort) i can now officially say I'm interested in New Jersey.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:03 AM on November 23, 2004


PPS: I don't work on the OED, but on the Historical Dictionary of American Slang. Not as large, but more fun. Volume III is scheduled for release in 2006. Any spelling fixes were accidental. (I believe the informality of web discussion forums and email do not require perfection, and one of the things I've always liked about Metafilter is that flame wars over spelling or typos are rare.)
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:11 AM on November 23, 2004


"Britannica" is the correct spelling.

"South Jersey" is more a state of mind than a geographical distinction, and Camden's definitely in it. Cape May is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Does anyone remember Joe Piscopo's annoying character from "Saturday Night Live" whose refrain was "Are you from Joisey? I'm from Joisey! Heh, heh, heh..."
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:12 AM on November 23, 2004 [1 favorite]


Does anyone remember Joe Piscopo's annoying character from "Saturday Night Live" whose refrain was "Are you from Joisey? I'm from Joisey! Heh, heh, heh..."

I used to hate that - people would say that to me all the time, and I'd be like, I don't talk like that, nor do I know anyone who does. As an aside, Joe is a member of my childhood parish (St. Joseph's in High Bridge), and I see him at midnight mass when I'm at my mother's for Christmas.
posted by jalexei at 8:20 AM on November 23, 2004


PPS: I don't work on the OED, but on the Historical Dictionary of American Slang. Not as large, but more fun. Volume III is scheduled for release in 2006.

Well, do please expedite the filling of the pleonastic but nonetheless infuriating gaping gap on my bookshelves (why is it whatever you want to look up hasn't been covered yet?) - and, if you have the influence, buck up the guys working on D.A.R.E., while you're at it. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:29 AM on November 23, 2004


You, this question was basically answered completely condensed into one New Yorker cartoon years ago.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:47 AM on November 23, 2004


I agree with our ever-insightful lexicographer Mo, and other fellow New Yorkers in this thread.

I would add, there is one big thing New Jersey has over NY: awesome views of Manhattan. As I look out the window of my apartment on the west side of NYC, across the Hudson River all I see (past the bike riders and dog walkers and strollers in Riverside Park) is... the rather drab (as compared to the Big Apple skyline, at least) coast of New Jersey. Oh well.
posted by jellybuzz at 8:51 AM on November 23, 2004


I'm from western Massachusetts and now live in New Jersey. I certainly had preconceptions about the state before moving here, but over the years I've found there's a lot more to it. I would say that the New York suburb part of the state is much more limited than some have said here, perhaps a twenty or thirty mile radius from the city. And note that that radius includes Newark, Jersey City, and Hoboken, which employ a great number of people themselves, with a fair number "reverse commuting" out of the five boroughs to work in one of these cities.

New York City residents love to beat up on New Jersey for some reason, I'm not sure why (maybe it helps them feel good about their enormous rents and mortgages). The city is a great place to live, but it's not right for everyone. I work in Manhattan, but at this point in my life I'd rather get more space and more peace and quiet for my rental dollars. I'm also mystified by the "huge gulf" people see between Manhattan and the Jersey suburbs (and to a lesser extent Staten Island). There are plenty of people in New Jersey who work in Manhattan and have significantly shorter commutes than many who live and work within a single borough; it all depends where you are.

New Jersey's reputation for highways, refineries, and suburbs is well deserved by the regions rich in each of these, but if you go just a bit further west, just a bit further north, or just a bit further south you'll find much more rural areas. I've gone horseback on reclaimed railbeds in the northwestern part of the state, and I could have been in northern New England. The Ivy League college town of Princeton also offers this impression. The Jersey Shore offers the expected boardwalks but it also offers protected seashore and one or two alcohol-free towns. There's Atlantic City, of course, but just a bit south of that there's Cape May with it's many Victorian houses. The Delaware Water Gap offers some dramatic scenery, and then there are the Pinelands and the Pine Barrens. There are many small farms selling excellent produce at stands and farmers markets.

There are places in Jersey as there are almost everywhere where people go because it's all they can afford, where they have to settle to live there. The ugly parts of New Jersey are very ugly. But although it's hard for the hardcore NYC bigots to imagine, there are actually many places in Jersey that attract people, where people aspire to move to, to buy a nice house, with a yard, away from traffic, and relax ferchrissakes.
posted by Songdog at 9:00 AM on November 23, 2004


New York City is the largest and most diverse city in the world. Nowhere else can ever compare.

New York is actually the twelfth largest city. Even comparing Metropolitan areas, Tokyo is much larger than New York.

Diversity is harder to quantify, but off the top off my head I'd bet Vancouver and Toronto are equally diverse.
posted by timeistight at 9:48 AM on November 23, 2004 [1 favorite]


Toronto is more diverse.
posted by oaf at 10:14 AM on November 23, 2004 [1 favorite]


This thread has already been answered to a brilliant and exhaustive extent, but I'd also like to throw down the PATH as part of the reason why New Yorkers exaggerate the distance of Jersey. Hoboken's no further away from Manhattan than Williamsburg, and certainly much closer than, say, Carroll Gardens, but somehow the act of buying another card that is not a Metrocard makes it seem like you're taking the slow boat to China.

This is not a good reason, mind you, but it's yet another one of those small, irrational barriers to full Jersey appreciation. I live in Brooklyn myself, and sometimes I secretly envy my friends in Hoboken and Jersey City.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:30 AM on November 23, 2004


As I look out the window of my apartment on the west side of NYC, across the Hudson River all I see (past the bike riders and dog walkers and strollers in Riverside Park) is... the rather drab (as compared to the Big Apple skyline, at least) coast of New Jersey. Oh well.

Even though I'm happy if I make it to Manhattan, at great expense, every over year for two weeks at a time at the most - and the view from my Lisbon apartment is nothing to be sniffed at - oh, jellybuzz, how I do feel your pain and wonder how you somehow still manage to survive.
:)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:33 AM on November 23, 2004


over really being other...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:35 AM on November 23, 2004


People from Delaware can make fun of people from New Jersey because people from New Jersey say "shore" instead of "beach" and that's just silly!

Also: jug handles. Ha ha!
posted by jennyb at 10:40 AM on November 23, 2004


I would like to point out that, as kids in Schenectady, we used to make fun of Delaware because "it didn't exist."

Which was rich, considering that I bet more people know about, have been to, and can even spell Delaware than Schenectady.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:45 AM on November 23, 2004


People from Massachusetts make fun of people from southern Jersey because they say "werter" instead of "water."

At least in this house.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:53 AM on November 23, 2004


Depends on what part of Jersey, as numerous people have said. Bergen and Middlesex Counties are your basic suburban blandness. Towns like Bayonne, Jersey City (although against all logic, it's being GENTRIFIED), Perth Amboy, Newark etc. are your basic urban/decaying tank town blight. Central and South Jersey are what springsteen sings about for the most part, and could be Indiana with more diversity and nasal accents. The main association people have with the state is the New Jersey Turnpike (Thus the old joke about "What exit you from?") a vast ribbon of asphalt lined with monstrous oil refineries. But I've got relatives there

Also to echo someone upthread, growing up in the tri-state area (but not in NYC proper) is a unique experience in cultural isolation. You're close enough to the action to know something cool is happening, but far enough away to make being involved with it difficult unless you have wealthy/indulgent parents, and not far enough away to make creating your own "scene" worthwhile.

But living in an outer borough now, I've come to appreciate being a B&T'er. I'm close enough to Manhattan that I can be there quick if I want. My neighborhood has plenty of diversity and urban conveniences, but I can still return home to relative quiet and unpretentiousness at the end of the day.
posted by jonmc at 11:04 AM on November 23, 2004


timeistight and oaf - I didn't do any research before making that statement, so points taken, but it's definitely the predominant attitude of folks in the region. NYC is the center of the world - nothing else can compare. Even though it's not true, it may as well be.
posted by MsVader at 11:05 AM on November 23, 2004


Let me add that the Detroit news (rather gleefully) reported that Detroit's status as most dangerous city has been taken by Camden, NJ.
posted by dagnyscott at 11:17 AM on November 23, 2004


I love Toronto, oaf, but I don't know where you get the idea that it's "more diverse" than New York.

Only 35% of New York residents describe themselves as "white, non-Hispanic"; 57% of Toronto residents describe themselves as "not part of a visible minority".

Note, too, that a large number of South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, etc.) living in New York may be included in the "white, non-Hispanic" number (because there is some disagreement within the US South Asian community over whether they are better served by self-describing as "white, non-Hispanic" or as "Asian" on US censuses and demographic surveys), whereas South Asians are included in Toronto's definition of "visible minority".
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:18 AM on November 23, 2004


So, where's the orginal Jersey?
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 11:36 AM on November 23, 2004


The English Channel.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:54 AM on November 23, 2004


My wife asked my New Yorker cousin what people in NYC thought of New Jersey, and he said "Armpit," which says it all.
posted by jasper411 at 12:00 PM on November 23, 2004


Well, we've gone so far as to develop a repertoire of "Jersey Jokes," most of which are too filthy to repeat here.
posted by jonmc at 12:08 PM on November 23, 2004


Myself, I am curious about what the Spanish think of Portugal.
posted by thirteen at 12:19 PM on November 23, 2004


So then: these are not typical NJ residents.
posted by Guy Smiley at 12:29 PM on November 23, 2004


These, on the other hand, are typical NJ residents. ;)
posted by kindall at 12:43 PM on November 23, 2004


Miguel, if you make it to NYC, or even close, get in touch. I'll buy you dinner, and you'll see I'm the nice guy I really am....
posted by ParisParamus at 1:37 PM on November 23, 2004


Oh I love that site, Guy - They are typical of a certain geographic swath perhaps, but their very boisterous nature makes it seem like there's more of them than there are (you'll notice that the entire site seems to take place at the same handful of clubs).
posted by jalexei at 1:54 PM on November 23, 2004


As a former Hoboken resident, I'd like to clarify a couple things here. Hoboken is great for those people who want to be in the city, but don't want to always be in the city. Its become quite a bit more desirable over the last 10 years, now that the longshoremen have been driven out, and New Yorkers have discovered it as a place to get out of the city, but stay in the city. Brooklyn is more desirable maybe only because it allows you to say you live in New York City.

Lots of expensive high rise condos have recently been built, or are being built. Its much cheaper to live in Hoboken for comparable accomodations in Manhattan. Crime is less and it just seems less overall hectic and scary in Hoboken.

Hoboken, for those not in the know, is just across the Hudson river from NYC, and is the exit point for both the Lincoln Tunnel and Holland Tunnel. The PATH train and Ferries also will get you to Hoboken. Its about 15 minutes to get across in the city, and it puts you right at Madison Square Garden.

Hoboken is full of bars, and yes you can still smoke in the bars there. The pizza isn't as good, although its still better than any other place in the world. The view of the Manhattan skyline is unbeatable.

And yeah, Sinatra grew up in the shadow of New York, and even though he was born in Hoboken, he became a New Yorker.
posted by stovenator at 11:35 PM on November 23, 2004


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