Camden, New Jersey: Poverty and Paradise

I recently moved to Camden NJ, Now if your from Jersey or Philly, your definitely saying why? If your not familiar with Camden, let me share with you it’s reputation. Camden always seems to rank among the highest communities for murders and crime. It is also among the poorest. Not just in the state, but nationwide. Now maybe your saying, ok why would you move to such a place. Surely no one would choose to live there. I did, and I did it for love. My fiance is currently a law student at Rutgers Camden. When she first told me she was accepted there I never gave it much thought. Surely she would choose to go elsewhere, who goes to Camden? Little did I know what a good school it was. As it became more and more likely this was the school she was going to attend we looked into it farther. The commute she would have would be ninety minutes each way, meaning she would be spending three hours a day in the car when she could be studying. We drove down to look at the campus and check out our housing options. Much to my surprise, the area around the school was nice.

Historic buildings, a beautiful waterfront, featuring not only an aquarium, but a minor league baseball stadium, and concert arena. We signed a lease on an apartment in a building called The Victor. A former RCA factory converted to luxury lofts, complete with high ceilings, doormen, a beautiful marble lobby, gym, rooftop deck, and so much more. The view may be even more spectacular than the building. The Ben Franklin bridge is beautifully lit up every night. The baseball stadium provides us with a fireworks show every weekend the team is in town. And there is also the view of the Delaware River, along with the city of Philadelphia, all outside our windows. Wow, sounds great right? It is, but where is the Camden I have heard about all my life? We found it, quite by accident, actually. We decided to try to find a Sonic restaurant.

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Little did we know, Mapquest gives you directions, not the safest route. We started down Broadway, and the farther we went the worse it got. Boarded up and burnt out buildings, drug dealers, prostitutes, and homeless. Thank goodness it was still daylight. Maybe I have lived a somewhat sheltered life, but it was shocking, and surreal. I had trouble believing I was still in the U.S. let alone N.J. It looked like a town devastated by war. Needless to say we found a different and safer route home. I’ve seen the Camden everyone talks about once, and that is enough. I am enjoying my time in the Camden I know. The college campus, the waterfront attractions, and the great view of Philiy. They say there is a good side and a bad side to everything. With Camden, the bad was worst than I even imagined, However, the good is far better than I ever would of thought. If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Camden Waterfront, I truly recommend it, just remember, no matter what Mapquest says, stay off Broadway.