Being a New Yorker ain’t easy, much less an adopted one. Whether you’re Wall Street, Williamsburg artsy hipster, or Upper East Side culture vulture, you not only have to walk the walk, you better know how to talk the talk. In essence, there are certain airs and affectations one must adopt if one is to be truly considered “New York.”
When it comes to airs, one of my personal favorites is the apparent disdain for the so-called bridge and tunnel crew, i.e. people from Jersey. It’s always amusing when people refer to certain places or behavior as being “B and T,” which has in essence become synonymous with saying that it’s really not apropo for a New Yorker.
Now as someone who lived in Philadelphia prior to moving to New York, I totally get it because this apparent disdain for little brother North Jersey is the same one expressed by Philadelphians towards South Jersey. So in my case, it would seem to be a rather easy task of simply transferring that sentiment from South to North, and apparently since no one knows, or even cares what goes on in central Jersey, they are just left out of the picture altogether. It’s like they don’t even exist…
Don’t get me wrong here; this is not in any way a malicious sentiment, it just seems there’s something about the so-called Armpit State that evokes a certain sense of, for lack of a better term, yuck. Now I, of course, have no qualms with Jersey per se. I have a ton of friends and even family who call it home, so in light of this I decided to do some research (and by research I mean type into Google) on this oft-maligned state and see what interesting and fun facts I could uncover. #1: Did you know that New Jersey has the densest system of highways and railroads in the USA? In addition to that the Holland Tunnel was the first tunnel to be built under a river. Jersey is also home to Newark Liberty International, one of the nation’s busiest airports. This is no small feat as one wouldn’t instinctively assume this about the state. Having such an extensive transportation network is comforting because it lets you know that even if you do have to come in, there’s no shortage of ways to quickly get out.
#2: North Jersey has the most shopping malls in one area in the world with seven major shopping malls in a 25 square mile radius! That translates into a whole lot of Christian Audigier and Armani Exchange…
#3: The first drive-in movie theater was opened in Camden in 1933. Well, needless to say, a lot has changed since 1933. Word to the wise, if by some unfortunate turn of events you happen to end up in Camden, it’s best you don’t drive-in anywhere! You want to drive through it as fast as possible unless your plan is to witness a drive-by, or even worse get caught in the middle of one.
#4: People from Jersey don’t go to the beach or to the shore; they go “down the shore.” You’re not at the beach or at the shore, you’re “down the shore.” Why you ask? I don’t know. I wish I had an answer for this one, but unfortunately not even Google could produce a satisfactory answer. At best, it’s a quirky colloquialism; at worst, just really bad English… #5: Jersey is the only state where you can leave off the “New” and it still makes sense (unlike New York, New Mexico, New Hampshire). I suppose this counts for something, and now that we have the reassurance that the name of the state makes sense, hopefully we can start making sense of the rest of the state… Okay to be fair, Jersey, unfortunately, does tend to catch a bad rap that may be unjustified on many levels.
But for the most part, it’s the price it pays for living in the shadow of a big brother like New York. I say this now perhaps to try and somewhat redeem myself (and hopefully keep some of my friends whose home I have just lambasted) because I think that when I started to write this, it was my intention to find a way to paint Jersey in a positive light. Alas, that does not seem to be the case as I have revealed myself to be no better than those whom I initially sought to call out. It appears I am more “New York” than I thought.