What is New Jersey really like?
Stereotypical New Jersey
For many people coming to New Jersey for the first time, it’s quite possible they’ll have a limited knowledge of the little S-shaped state that sits to the left of New York. If you have heard of NJ, chances are as a newcomer, it may be due to internationally broadcast shows like the Sopranos, Jerseylicious, Desperate Housewives of New Jersey and the infamous Jersey Shore.
It is probably not a surprise to know that, New Jersey is not accurately represented by most of these shows. Take Jersey Shore for instance. It’s true that New Jersey does have a large Italian-American heritage population, and some live along the Shore. Most of the Jersey Shore cast however, don’t even come from New Jersey. They’re from Staten Island, NY, and were imported for the show. Not surprisingly, many New Jerseyans are resentful for the way this program has portrayed them and their home.
Unfortunately though it seems, New Jersey has a long history of being misunderstood and misrepresented. For a long time now, NJ has been forced to live with a number of unkind, unfair stereotypes in the US. Amongst other fellow Americans, New Jerseyans are often all depicted as noisy, rude and pushy. For the record though, no-one here ever pronounces ‘Jerz-ey’ as ‘Jois-ey’.
Even less kind, is the labelling of New Jersey as America’s armpit. Other commonly rehashed stereotypes include that New Jersey is a:
- Panorama of industrial wasteland, with Newark at its center;
- Suburban sprawl of concrete, cars and freeways, and no greenery,
- Place that no-one would want to visit, unless they were driving through it to somewhere else.
Well I’m here to tell you these are far from the truth.
The Real New Jersey
New Jersey is a land of contrast and colour in a range of ways. There are well-known icons like beach-side boardwalks, Atlantic City, diners and pizza restaurants. But there is more to Jersey culture than just these. Whether it’s the contrast of country green and seaside sands, colours of different festivals and celebrations, the varied American accents that are heard every day on the street, or the multicultural mix of people, New Jersey is never boring. It’s a state with its own established arts and cultural identity. Local offerings include the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, NJ State Ballet, museums and theatres, and the MetLife stadium.
Surprisingly for some, NJ is also known as the Garden State. This is thanks to numerous State Parks, reserves and Preserved wilderness areas. There’s no lack of outdoor things to do whether it’s skiing or snow-boarding in winter, beach-going in summer, or hiking, canoeing or tubing any time in between.
Certainly, New Jersey is densely populated, as many people want to live near New York’s large metropolis, without living in it. On the Hudson River side of the state, NJ has rapidly developing financial centers in Jersey City. These center outside of traditional New York took off after 9/11 encouraged some firms to exit NYC. This busy financial area is known simply as Wall Street West. Adding to this urban dynamism are colourful cultural centers such as Little Korea in Fort Lee and Little India in Jersey City.
In contrast, less than one hour’s drive from New York, you start to move from suburban urban into rural hinterlands. Here, farmlands and forests, are mixed with small and large regional towns. This side of Jersey is populated with many charming antique towns, up and down the Delaware River border.
One last thing you won’t fail to see is that New Jerseyans like to celebrate, big time. When you come here to live, be prepared for lots of parties. This applies regardless of whether it’s St Patrick’s Day, Film Festivals or Food and Wine Celebrations. There’s always something to do in New Jersey. Make sure you get out and enjoy it first hand.