I’ve lived in New Jersey now, off and on, for nearly twenty years, but I’m not a native. I was born in Michigan and have at various times lived in New York, Indiana, Rhode Island, Maryland, California, New Hampshire, and the British Virgin Islands. None of the places I’ve lived has been perfect. They all have their good and bad points. When it comes to New Jersey, though, nobody seems to acknowledge the good. From comedians to columnists to Internet forum posters the standard line is that New Jersey consists of a single strip of industrially polluted concrete running from New York to Philadelphia, studded with chemical plants, refineries, landfills, and tanning salons. Now, thanks to MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” everyone also thinks that the open space between the salvage yards and tattoo parlors is crammed with orange-tanned goombahs sporting oily hair and neck chains.
If that’s your view of New Jersey, then rejoice. Your ignorance quotient is about to be attenuated significantly. You’re about to learn that not only is New Jersey nothing at all like the popular stereotypes would have it, it is in fact one of the most beautiful places in America. From the mountainous Highlands of the northwest, to the fertile rolling hills of the midlands, and the vast undeveloped tracts of pinelands in the southeast, New Jersey combines a little slice of everything that is best about our continent. I won’t ask you to take this on faith. In order to make my point I’ve combed through thousands of pictures of the state that I have taken over the years, and selected fifty that I think show a New Jersey most of you don’t know exists. This is the New Jersey that I know, and I’d like you to know it too.
When you’re through enjoying the images, consider this: all that beauty, the pines, the highlands, the hunt country, the Delaware River, Delaware Bay, miles of shoreline, all of it, is within 1-2 hours of New York City and Philadelphia, and 3-4 hours from Baltimore and Washington, DC. In other words, we win. We have our share of problems, to be sure. Taxes are too high, and we have a lot of challenges in terms of how to maintain economic growth and rebuild infrastructure… but then so do the states most of you live in, and our Governor doesn’t have a secret second family. Yet. So the next time you see some Jersey-hater hating, point them toward this post so they can get some education. Better yet, come visit yourself. Then you’ll know what I’m talking about.