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A new City vs. City: Gary, IN vs. Camden, NJ

pete-rock

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1,551
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24
All the previous city vs. city debates have been full of people singing the praises of one place versus another. Let's have a real battle -- two former industrial juggernaut satellite cities fight for survival, and ONLY ONE CAN WIN!!!

LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!

In one corner...

It's the home of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5. It's the former home of the Miss USA pageant. It's located on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan (you can see it if you peer through the vacant U.S. Steel complex), just 25 miles southeast of Chicago. It has a brand-new minor-league baseball stadium to draw people downtown! But it also has 22.2% of its households living below the poverty level. It's... Gary, Indiana!!!

And in the other corner...

It's the home of Campell Soup. It's the home of the New Jersey State Aquarium. It has a revitalizing waterfront located just minutes from Philadelphia's Center City. It has a brand-new minor-league baseball stadium to draw people downtown! But it also has 32.8% of its households living below the poverty level. It's... Camden, New Jersey!!!

Which of these tough-luck cities stands the best chance of returning to glory -- or simply becoming viable again?

BTW, the undercard is an intrastate rivalry (you can forget about the records when these two play) -- Hartford, CT vs. New Haven, CT!!!
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
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2,550
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25
I don't know any that there have been any songs made about Camden, NJ whereas Gary, IN has that song from the Music Man.

Plus my dad was born in Gary.

Gary gets my vote!
 

bestnightmare

Cyburbian
Messages
61
Points
4
seems to me that Camden has more potential than Gary simply because it's so close to center city philadelphia - right across the river. gary, on the other hand, is nowhere near (25 miles southeast) of Chicago. with abandonmed factories, closed mills and plants, and an impoverished population, revitalization of Gary seems a much more difficult task.

Gary is probably more comparable to Newark, NJ, in terms of its size and distance from the central city of its CMSA, while Camden can be compared to East St. Louis.

it's not easy to revive any of these places, if for no other reason than the simple fact that at the height of their existence, each of these cities were simply bedroom communities and barracks for their factory workers. without the factories, well...
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,551
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24
Midwest Meltdown...

Super Amputee Cat said:
What about East St. Louis? Someone should put that one in there.
OK -- East St. Louis, IL vs. Benton Harbor, MI, in the bantamweight class (under 30,000 residents).
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Well, Chicago as a metropolitan area is a little stronger than Philadelphia. (I would also point out that U. S. Steel has not closed their mill in Gary. Employment is vastly lower, of course, but it still have well over 5,000 workers in the area steel industry) Northwestern Indiana is the center of what remains of the U. S. integrated steel industry).

On the other hand, Camden is smaller and more manageble. It has a more interesting building stock, from what I remember. Given its proximity to Center City-maybe it will have more of a fighting chance.

As for the undercard, I know New Haven has problems, but is it really as seriously devastated as Hartford? Hartford as a central city is almost as high in poverty as Gary.
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
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1,551
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24
bestnightmare said:
seems to me that Camden has more potential than Gary simply because it's so close to center city philadelphia - right across the river. gary, on the other hand, is nowhere near (25 miles southeast) of Chicago. with abandonmed factories, closed mills and plants, and an impoverished population, revitalization of Gary seems a much more difficult task.

Gary is probably more comparable to Newark, NJ, in terms of its size and distance from the central city of its CMSA, while Camden can be compared to East St. Louis.

it's not easy to revive any of these places, if for no other reason than the simple fact that at the height of their existence, each of these cities were simply bedroom communities and barracks for their factory workers. without the factories, well...
Gary's distance from Chicago's Loop -- and its lakefront -- might be the one thing it has in its favor over Camden. The lakefront there has been obscured for years by two interstates and the U.S. Steel monstrosity. If Gary could ever open up its lakefront, with beautiful views of Chicago, it could be like... Oakland, CA, overlooking the bay to San Francisco.

Camden, meanwhile, will always be in the shadow of Center City. People will always look across the Delaware and say, "why can't it look like here?" I think the same goes for East St. Louis.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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My vote goes with Camden.

Gary ... I think it's too far gone. Unlike Camden, Gary still has a a racially integrated, middle to upper middle class neighborhood (Miller), but for the most part Gary is a shell of what it once was. Gary is too far from white collar employment centers, so attracting professional middle class residents will be a challenge. The African-American middle and upper middle class in the still-very segregated Chicagoland region are settling down in the southeastern suburbs (Matteson, Tinley Park, etc), and there's some buppie gentrification in neighborhoods south of Hyde Park in Chicago. Housing in NW Indiana and Chicago's southern 'burbs is still very affordable compared to the region as a whole, so there's no economic incentive for gentrification.

Camden ... close to downtown Philadelphia, a somewhat decent downtown (compared to Gary and East St. Louis) and waterfront, good public transportation (PATCO), and a change in demographics from poor African-American to working-class Hispanic. Housing in Philadelphia is inexpensive, though, so like Gary market forces promoting gentrification aren't there. Why go to Camden when you can get a huge rowhouse for a song near UPenn?
 

pete-rock

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1,551
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I also think Gary could benefit from a name change. It has no historical or geographical relationship to anything; I think it was the last name of a U.S. Steel CEO in the early 1900's.

Give it a name that relates to the Indiana Dunes (there's the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore nearby), or maybe after the Calumet River that goes through the city.
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
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1,551
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24
Dan said:
My vote goes with Camden.

Gary is too far from white collar employment centers, so attracting professional middle class residents will be a challenge. The African-American middle and upper middle class in the still-very segregated Chicagoland region are settling down in the southeastern suburbs (Matteson, Tinley Park, etc), and there's some buppie gentrification in neighborhoods south of Hyde Park in Chicago. Housing in NW Indiana and Chicago's southern 'burbs is still very affordable compared to the region as a whole, so there's no economic incentive for gentrification.

Camden ... close to downtown Philadelphia, a somewhat decent downtown (compared to Gary and East St. Louis) and waterfront, good public transportation (PATCO), and a change in demographics from poor African-American to working-class Hispanic. Housing in Philadelphia is inexpensive, though, so like Gary market forces promoting gentrification aren't there. Why go to Camden when you can get a huge rowhouse for a song near UPenn?
I'd agree with you here, Dan. Gary's biggest problem is its distance from jobs -- not just the Loop, but the O'Hare Corridor, for example, is probably 50 miles away. There just hasn't been any kind of economic engine since the steel mills cut way back, and that goes for Chicago's South Side and the near south suburbs, too (Harvey, Markham, Dixmoor, Riverdale, Blue Island, etc.).

Gary and much of Northwest Indiana (East Chicago, Hammond, Whiting, etc.) needs a wholesale makeover to stage a comeback.
 

Cardinal

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10,080
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I'm in the Gary camp. Its distance from the Loop should allow it to compete for jobs, especially given its competitively-priced industrial land. It is a point through which you need to pass if you are headed to Chicago from the east, making it an ideal corridor for services and distribution. There is some great old housing stock in need of rehabilitation, and the opportunities for redevelopment are there. Its biggest challenges are a bad image (the old-time industrial smell of Gary is still strong in many people's memories) and a location in Indiana. Gary would certainly be a city to benefit from regional, cross-border approaches to issues such as transit.
 

Seabishop

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3,838
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As far as the headliner, I tend to agree with those that give Camden the edge.

As for the undercard thats a tough call. Both cities have suffered lots of disinvestment. New Haven has more potential to be a great city someday, but that seems very far off. NH like all the CT shoreline cities is cut off from the waterfront by the contantly congested Rt 95. CT needs a giant "big dig" to bury 95 through 3 or 4 cities. Here's a recent editorial on the issues with 95 in this area http://www.projo.com/opinion/editorials/content/projo_20030423_23edroad.5b1d1.html

New Haven has Yale as a major cultural attraction and commuter rail access to NYC, but it seems that Hartford has been doing more to redevelop their waterfront and downtown. Hartford may have less pizzaz but it seems like more of a distinct metro area than does New Haven which is blurred in with CT's NY suburbs. Hartford's skyline is also nicer even though alot of its office towers are underutilized former insurance buildings.

In my humble opinion, all of CT's cities are depressing places because of the severe disinvestment surrounded by some of the nations wealthiest suburbs.
 

Jeff

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I remember about 10 years ago when everyone in Philly was buying up houses in Camden because they thought they would be worth something someday. Today they are still worth the same, a couple thousand dollars if that. While Camden's waterfront is nice, there is nothing else nice about the city. In fact it is straight up ghetto. Probably worse than North Philly. The only thing that is good about its proximity to Philly is that it is only a short run over the Walt Whitman to buy or sell your crack or coke. Time Magazine did a Cover Story on Camden a while back calling it the worst city in America. I know right now most of the businesses and offices in Camden close around 4:00 pm in the winter because of daylight savings time, its just not safe to walk to your car at night.

So, my vote goes to Camden, NJ. For its RUGGEDNESS!
 

pete-rock

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1,551
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Michael Stumpf said:
I'm in the Gary camp. It is a point through which you need to pass if you are headed to Chicago from the east, making it an ideal corridor for services and distribution. Its biggest challenges are a bad image (the old-time industrial smell of Gary is still strong in many people's memories) and a location in Indiana. Gary would certainly be a city to benefit from regional, cross-border approaches to issues such as transit.
Having lived in Illinois and Indiana, I've noticed how "the Region" (as Northwest Indiana is often called) gets short shrift from Indiana state government, which views it as part of the Chicago area, and from Illinois, which thinks it has nothing to do with things on the other side of the state line. Gary's caught in a netherworld, and its local political leadership seems to do nothing to help it.

I like Gary's chances over Camden. Jobs are lacking there now, but it has more potential as a job generator than Camden.
 

bestnightmare

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Mike D., congrats on the Flyers victory over the Leafs last night.

hows this: perhaps Camden has the potential to turn into a Jersey City or Hoboken - a cheaper alternative for white collar residents and businesses.

and, I could definitely envision Gary as a major warehousing/distribution center for all manner of different enterprise.

it seems to me that Gary has the potential to stabilize, but cannot move beyond its blue collar roots. Camden, on the other hand, could become downright gentrified (unlikely in the near future).

Incidentally, Gary is connected to Chicago by commuter train.
 

Jeff

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bestnightmare said:


hows this: perhaps Camden has the potential to turn into a Jersey City or Hoboken - a cheaper alternative for white collar residents and businesses.

It really is a far stretch. I'm being serious when I say that you would never be able to rent the existing housing stock to any white-collar Philly commuter. The place needs to be demolished, and rebuilt. Plain and simple.

Camden is scary. I've lived in Philly my whole life and I don't know anyone who ever goes there after dark, if at all.

They still burn half the city down on Mischief Night every year. You can see the glow for miles. But I guess that's one easy way of redeveloping.
 

Mud Princess

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Mike D. said:
They still burn half the city down on Mischief Night every year. You can see the glow for miles. But I guess that's one easy way of redeveloping.
Hey, it worked for the South Bronx!
 

jresta

Cyburbian
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Camden ... close to downtown Philadelphia, a somewhat decent downtown (compared to Gary and East St. Louis) and waterfront, good public transportation (PATCO), and a change in demographics from poor African-American to working-class Hispanic. Housing in Philadelphia is inexpensive, though, so like Gary market forces promoting gentrification aren't there. Why go to Camden when you can get a huge rowhouse for a song near UPenn?

. . . because those victorians near UPenn (now known as University City) sell for about $300k.

Here's why Camden has already won.
*PATCO offers a 5 minute ride to Center City Philly 24 hours a day.

*The development pressure of Center City has already reached across the river with Dranoff Properties $60 million renovation of the former RCA factory into 340 loft apartments.
http://www.thevictorapts.com/welcome.htm

*The completion of the South Jersey Light Rail Line with service to Trenton and connections to PATCO, SEPTA, and AMTRAK, and NJT trains to New York and Philadelphia.

*The $200 million state bond issue to replace the 150 year old sewer system (they're still digging up wooden mains) expand Rutgers from a 4,000 student campus in the heart of downtown to a 10,000 student campus - as well as money to expand the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ downtown.

*Dranoff's plans to build 1,000 new units on the waterfront between Campbell's Field and the Aquarium.

*The contruction of a cable car across the river that will carry 1,000 passengers an hour between Camden and Philly's Penn's Landing/Old City

*Neighborhood housing is on the rise in specific neighborhoods with 'hoods like Cooper Grant and Cooper Plaza selling houses for $200k and none less than $100k

Someone mentioned it before but Camden's black population has been moving into the middle class and out of Camden for 40 years. They're being replaced by a mostly Puerto Rican and Dominican population that, for the most part, is working class and has been moving into the middle class at a seriously rapid pace - to the point where they're set to be the largest ethnic group in neighboring Pennsauken by the next census.
 

jresta

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P.S. - I worked in Camden for 2 years, lived there for a year, and went to school there for three years. I spent 2 years living in Collingswood 5 blocks from the Camden line. It looks really bad but it's not nearly as dangerous as people make it out to be.

The housing stock isn't any different or any older than what's available in South Philly or West Philly.

If you're not involved in the drug trade or have family members recently out of prison you really don't have much to worry about as far as personal safety is concerned.

your car might get stolen every other week . . . but that's all the more reason not to have one.

At just under 10 square miles i think this city is an easy turn around. Now if we can only get rid of all that tritium and cesium in the Waterfront South neighborhood we'll be golden.
 

LouisvilleSlugger

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216
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9
interesting debate..I'm gonna go with Camden as well. Camden has an aquarium along with plans for light rail. there seems to be some economic plans set up for that city as well. I think Philly's proximity can help fuel some more economic growth there. Gary seems lost..adrift.
 

Jeff

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But why would I move to Camden to take PATCO to center city when I can move to the Northeast, South Philly, Manayunk, Roxborough,etc and take the el or subway?

Plus, who the hell wants to live in Jersey anyway? Their solution for traffic is to put a circle in.
 

Dan

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Napptown said:
Gary. They are renovating their downtown.
Tell us about some of the projects there. Anything with the abandoned Sheraton? Upgrades to the Genesis Center?

Years ago, I spent some time in 'da' region," and I have a soft spot in my heart for Gary. Really, I wish the place the best. The residential areas that aren't decimated were once very liveable areas; solid Chicago-style brick homes, a bit roomier than in the big city, on larger lots fronting short blocks. The South Shore ... the last interurban line in the United States. The Indiana Dunes. An IU satellite campus. Damnit, though, there's the mill, the demographics, the reputation ...

I don't think any place has it as bad as East St. Louis, though. I wonder if just clearing the entire city, letting it sit fallow for some years to get the bad reputation out of the collectve mindset, and starting from scratch is the best option, rather than just patching things up here and there.
 

pete-rock

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Dan said:
I don't think any place has it as bad as East St. Louis, though. I wonder if just clearing the entire city, letting it sit fallow for some years to get the bad reputation out of the collectve mindset, and starting from scratch is the best option, rather than just patching things up here and there.
I agree, Dan. If I had God-like powers, I'd tell the people in some God-forsaken city, "time to move on."

Move the people out. Let the city sit empty for, oh, 20 years or so. Long enough to lose the previous reputation. Then, let people move back in. The new residents can give the place a new name, a new image, a new look...

I believe cities are like living organisms that are born, thrive, age, decay and die, but we don't let them die! Some cities need to get off of life support.
 

jresta

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But why would I move to Camden to take PATCO to center city when I can move to the Northeast, South Philly, Manayunk, Roxborough,etc and take the el or subway?

Plus, who the hell wants to live in Jersey anyway? Their solution for traffic is to put a circle in.


You would move to Camden and take PATCO to Center City because -

A) at 5 minutes to 8th&Market it's quicker than any of the places you mentioned

B) at $1.15 a ride it's cheaper than commuting from any of the places you mentioned

C) if you're out past 12:15 in Philly you turn into a SEPTA pumpkin. PATCO runs 24/7.

D) When SEPTA does run the service is terrible.

E) why the hell would you want to live in the Northeast? wannabe suburbs - if you want to leave the city just do it already.

F) NJ hasn't built a traffic circle since the 30's. Obviously back then no one thought that there would be 6 million drivers in the state each with a car and a half.
 

Dan

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Is the dividing line between East St.. Louis and the other Illinois 'burbs very sharply defined; i.e. one side of the street is mostly black, the other side mostly white? Are there any holdouts in East St. Louis? Any nice neighborhoods?

I've always wondered about a little bit of East. St. Louis dangling off the city proper, that juts out some distance to the east. The area contains a network of curvilinear streets that loop around, like what you would find in an upscale suburb circa 1925. What's that area like?
 

The Irish One

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Things might have changed since this was written, nevertheless, it's a sad description written by Ralph Nader.

p5
[Camden, New Jersey] a devastated place of eighty thousand people ... is an economic and living disaster. Indicative of the devastation in Camden is the absence of a single supermarket, motel, or movie theater within the city limits. Camden's woes are hard to exaggerate: two thousand debris-filled vacant lots interspersed between thirty-five hundred vacant buildings and block after block of poor families trying to send their children to run-down schools with dropout rates soaring over 50 percent. Property values are so low that Camden's tax receipts can't begin to meet school and city government expenses; the bulk of the dollars come from the state. Street crime and drug addiction surge through much of Camden's 210 miles of roads. The state, which is the largest employer in Camden, has finally taken over the city's finances, while the mayor joined two of his predecessors in being convicted of political corruption.

p5
... In 1990 census figures put Camden, now the nation's fifth-poorest city, in destitution land. One-third of its people lived below the poverty level.
p5
... Camden is emblematic of a systemic collapse in our smaller inner cities, with across-the-board unemployment, non-living-wage jobs going nowhere, pulverized lives of addiction, and serious crimes of violence and ghetto exploitation by loan sharks and unscrupulous merchants and landlords.
p6
There are many Camdens in America-the world's richest and mightiest economy. Not just entire cities like East St. Louis and Bridgeport, Connecticut, but large areas of just about all our large cities. People left behind in the tens of millions with only the urban renewal of gentrification available to push them out. Nearly abandoned farm towns and villages, former factory towns with shuttered plants dot the scarred, contaminated landscapes and join with the longtime poor regions of Appalachia, the Ozarks, Indian reservations, the bypassed rural South, former mining and textile towns. These places represent the "other America" so graphically described by Michael Harrington, who helped motivate Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty in the mid-sixties.
 

michaelskis

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19,473
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I have been to both... Take them both down, start from scrach.

I vote for the people of each.
 

JivecitySTL

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Believe it or not, there are grand plans for East St. Louis. There are currently two riverfront proposals under review, and the MetroLink (light-rail) expansion has done wonders for the city. New housing developments are popping up left and right as well. It's not the East St. Louis it was in the 1930s heyday, but it's not the East St. Louis it was in the 1990s (at its worst) either.
 

jresta

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I agree that something needs to be done with places like Camden but i totally disagree that anything else needs to be torn down. They've been tearing stuff down for 40 years and everytime they do neighborhoods get worse, not better.

Even the houses that are 100 years old and half falling down will still be there in 50 years if left alone. I wish i could say the new HOPE VI garbage they are building will still be standing in 20 years.

All Camden neighborhoods have at this point is history. It's something to build on not demolish.

It's also interesting to note that 1/4 of the land in Camden is owned by the state, county, federal government, or some other tax-exempt institution like universities and another fourth is either vacant or abandoned add that onto the public schools, parks, and city buildings and you're dealing with just under 40% of your real estate that's ratable.

The county sited the sewage treatment plant on the waterfront then sited the county incinerator a half-mile south. They cut the city in half with a useless expressway - and the beauty of NJ's Mt. Laurel laws is that suburban towns that "don't want those people living here" can trade credits with other municipalites. So cash strapped Camden takes the cash to build more public housing.
 

wstarn

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Jeff said:
It really is a far stretch. I'm being serious when I say that you would never be able to rent the existing housing stock to any white-collar Philly commuter. The place needs to be demolished, and rebuilt. Plain and simple.

Camden is scary. I've lived in Philly my whole life and I don't know anyone who ever goes there after dark, if at all.

They still burn half the city down on Mischief Night every year. You can see the glow for miles. But I guess that's one easy way of redeveloping.
As I resident in an inner-ring suburb of Camden, and a friend of a 15-year veteran of the Camden Police force, I have some knowledge of Camden's troubles and hurdles to a turnaround I agree Camden is scary, but things are starting to turn around. Since the infamous Mischief Nights of late 80's (where over 90 buildings were set ablaze in one night), the fires have steadily declined to zero last Mischief Night. The crime rate, although still very high compared to the rest of Camden County and NJ, is at its lowest in 25 years (that doesn't mean I will walk at night in that city anytime soon). Also, the vacant RCA building is now home to about 100 upscale residents and the development plans have been approved for the Cramer Hill section. I guess Cramer Hill was chosen because it is a relatively stable neighborhood of Camden.

The Whitman Park and Northern sections (making up more than 60 % of the Camden) are where the problems lay. They are home to mostly abandoned buildings, most streets have pot holes that can swallow a car, the average age of the residents are below 25 years old, and the drug trade is a booming business. Bulldozing is most likely the only way to turnaround these places.

It took Camden 40+ years to bottom out, and it will take many years for a turn around to take effect, but I think Camden will come back. The State has taken over control of the renewal efforts from the crooked city government. The RCA and waterfront projects are already sucessful. Also, the county and State realize that if Camden is not fixed, the whole county will eventually go down the drain.
 

wstarn

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jresta said:
But why would I move to Camden to take PATCO to center city when I can move to the Northeast, South Philly, Manayunk, Roxborough,etc and take the el or subway?

Plus, who the hell wants to live in Jersey anyway? Their solution for traffic is to put a circle in.


You would move to Camden and take PATCO to Center City because -

A) at 5 minutes to 8th&Market it's quicker than any of the places you mentioned

B) at $1.15 a ride it's cheaper than commuting from any of the places you mentioned

C) if you're out past 12:15 in Philly you turn into a SEPTA pumpkin. PATCO runs 24/7.

D) When SEPTA does run the service is terrible.

E) why the hell would you want to live in the Northeast? wannabe suburbs - if you want to leave the city just do it already.

F) NJ hasn't built a traffic circle since the 30's. Obviously back then no one thought that there would be 6 million drivers in the state each with a car and a half.
To add: The cirlces are being removed. Three of them have been removed already.
 

jresta

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wstarn said:
As I resident in an inner-ring suburb of Camden, and a friend of a 15-year veteran of the Camden Police force, I have some knowledge of Camden's troubles and hurdles to a turnaround I agree Camden is scary, but things are starting to turn around. Since the infamous Mischief Nights of late 80's (where over 90 buildings were set ablaze in one night), the fires have steadily declined to zero last Mischief Night. The crime rate, although still very high compared to the rest of Camden County and NJ, is at its lowest in 25 years (that doesn't mean I will walk at night in that city anytime soon). Also, the vacant RCA building is now home to about 100 upscale residents and the development plans have been approved for the Cramer Hill section. I guess Cramer Hill was chosen because it is a relatively stable neighborhood of Camden.

The Whitman Park and Northern sections (making up more than 60 % of the Camden) are where the problems lay. They are home to mostly abandoned buildings, most streets have pot holes that can swallow a car, the average age of the residents are below 25 years old, and the drug trade is a booming business. Bulldozing is most likely the only way to turnaround these places.

It took Camden 40+ years to bottom out, and it will take many years for a turn around to take effect, but I think Camden will come back. The State has taken over control of the renewal efforts from the crooked city government. The RCA and waterfront projects are already sucessful. Also, the county and State realize that if Camden is not fixed, the whole county will eventually go down the drain.
I wouldn't really say that Camden has suburbs anymore. Camden has become, for the most part, inconsequential to most suburbanites. The fact that Rutgers and some of the county offices are located there are pretty arbitrary at this point. It's not really a center of anything - although it is changing slowly.

I went to school in Camden, i worked for the city, i still have friends who live there and i've seen every corner at all hours . . . the drug-trade certainly is thriving thanks to suburbanites who treasure the convenience of getting any type of drug at all hours but keeping the nuisances associated with such activity out of their neighborhoods.

The drug trade survives because of economics - it pumps $200+ million a year into the city's economy. The regional economy, much less Camden County, can't absorb the 30,000 unemployed (and for the most part, functionally illiterate) adults in the city. Until some serious attention is paid to education and providing a certain base level of services to city residents selling drugs is going to remain attractive regardless of the consequences.

I'm sure it's been discussed ad nauseum, and i said it above, but old industrial towns have one thing going for them - their urban form and their housing stock.
When you start destroying that capital you are diminishing the future of the city.

A lot of structures are beyond repair and need to be demolished but it's also no secret that Hargrove has taken more than his fair share of vacations thanks to his position as the county's favorite firm for the last 30 years - and his virtual carte blanche to demolish any unoccupied building that he saw as "dangerous".
 

edp828

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Messages
14
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1
pete-rock said:
I also think Gary could benefit from a name change. It has no historical or geographical relationship to anything; I think it was the last name of a U.S. Steel CEO in the early 1900's.
Gary, Indiana!
What a wonderful name,
Named for Elbert Gary of judiciary fame.
Gary, Indiana, as a Shakespeare would say,
Trips along softly on the tongue this way--
Gary, Indiana, Gary Indiana, Gary, Indiana,
Let me say it once again.
Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana,
That's the town that "knew me when."
If you'd like to have a logical explanation
How I happened on this elegant syncopation,
I will say without a moment of hesitation
There is just one place
That can light my face.
Gary, Indiana,
Gary Indiana,
Not Louisiana, Paris, France, New York, or Rome, but--
Gary, Indiana,
Gary, Indiana,
Gary Indiana,
My home sweet home.​
 

wstarn

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
jresta said:
I wouldn't really say that Camden has suburbs anymore. Camden has become, for the most part, inconsequential to most suburbanites. The fact that Rutgers and some of the county offices are located there are pretty arbitrary at this point. It's not really a center of anything - although it is changing slowly.

I went to school in Camden, i worked for the city, i still have friends who live there and i've seen every corner at all hours . . . the drug-trade certainly is thriving thanks to suburbanites who treasure the convenience of getting any type of drug at all hours but keeping the nuisances associated with such activity out of their neighborhoods.

The drug trade survives because of economics - it pumps $200+ million a year into the city's economy. The regional economy, much less Camden County, can't absorb the 30,000 unemployed (and for the most part, functionally illiterate) adults in the city. Until some serious attention is paid to education and providing a certain base level of services to city residents selling drugs is going to remain attractive regardless of the consequences.

I'm sure it's been discussed ad nauseum, and i said it above, but old industrial towns have one thing going for them - their urban form and their housing stock.
When you start destroying that capital you are diminishing the future of the city.

A lot of structures are beyond repair and need to be demolished but it's also no secret that Hargrove has taken more than his fair share of vacations thanks to his position as the county's favorite firm for the last 30 years - and his virtual carte blanche to demolish any unoccupied building that he saw as "dangerous".
I stated my town is an inner-ring suburb of Camden because the papers describe the town as such. It's most likely a description that should be retired. I agree with your points and I should have been more clear with my posting. I meant that only bulldozing properties well beyond repair should be done. I also am not nieve to believe the drug trade will disappear just by making the city pretty. Effective education and base level of services are vital to reduce the drug trade and to assist Camden into a brighter future. I also agree the urban form and housing stock is also important to Camden's future.

However, one of the major hurdles to Camden's re-birth is to release the grip the Norcross machine (of which Hargrove is part) has over Camden and some of its leaders. Norcross, the non-elected head of the county political machine, and his gang has robbed from the city to give to the 'burbs by forcing not only the county jail, the county recyling center, a state prison, and the trash-to-steam plant onto the city, but his group has allowed the infrastructure (roads, schools, etc.) to collapse. Also, the integrity of some of Camden's leaders have been in question. Three of Camden's past mayors have been indicted for criminal activity. I can't prove it, but I'm certain they had ties with Norcross.

Even with these major issues facing Camden, I still have hope for the city. As I stated in my last posting, there are signs the city is turning around. It will be slow, but it will happen. I still believe that if the city, county, and state do not take these problems on in a serious matter, the rest of the county could, over time, go the way of present day Camden. It is happening to Woodlynne, parts of Pennsauken, and almost started to happen in Collingswood before Mayor Maley, et. al. turned things around.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
Excellent point on Norcross - i wholeheartedly agree.

The only thing i'd disagree with is the part about Woodlynne. Collingswood is having much more of a positive influence on Woodlynne than Camden is having a negative impact. Property values have been on the increase there for a few years already and are actually pretty comparable to Oaklyn at this point.

As long as Woodlynne kids go to Collingswood High School and middle school there will always be enough of an attraction to keep Woodlynne stable.
 

griffes02

Member
Messages
10
Points
1
Demographically and politically speaking (haven't the past 7 mayors of Camden been arrested and sent to prison?), Gary may appear to be slightly stronger than Camden. But, I'd say Camden has the edge because of its overall location. Gary is the most depressing city I have ever visited, and I've been to almost every one of the 300 largest cities in the United States. The only business open in downtown Gary is a corporation that will pay you $20 if you donate your blood plasma. That they have branches in Flint, MI and Memphis TN is an indication of the market they are going for. The steel plant on Gary's waterfront does not add to its appeal.

As far as Hartford vs New Haven goes, it's no contest. New Haven has seen billions of dollars in new investment over the past few years (stunningly beautiful residential areas, all of which are national register districts, being renovated + infusion of cash from biotechnology industry). New Haven is now easily one of the best small cities in the country to live in, and the thousands of residential units being built downtown are a sign of that. If you look at the housing numbers, housing prices in New Haven proper have gone up 150% in the past 5 years, while suburban housing prices in the NYC area and CT in general are up only 30-40%. You should see the kinds of restaurants, grocery stores and boutiques that are opening all throughout the downtown area. Plus, everyone wants to escape the sprawling urban waste of most of the suburbs surrounding NYC, which just makes New Haven all the more appealing (especially since beaches, open areas, apple orchards, farms etc are just 5-10 minutes drive from the center of New Haven).
 

MJHankel

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
Gary is trying

Tell us about some of the projects there. Anything with the abandoned Sheraton? Upgrades to the Genesis Center?
Well, I am new here, but if nothing else I can give you the current "plans" for Gary.

Regarding the abandoned Sheraton, There is a lighting ceramony for it scheduled for May 3rd. (This will be the first time lights have been on for over 20 years.) Back in February it was announced that there were plans to redevelop the Sheraton. The deed for the abandoned hotel was transferred to New Gary Development Group, LLC.

Until recently much of the abandoned structures throughout Gary were in economic limbo. The corruption filled GUEA (Gary Urban Enterprise Association) owned these properties until recently. The entire corporation was brought to court and there have been multiple indictments. The properties will be transferred back to the city.

There are two new residential areas, one in Miller, and one Downtown. Another is planned for the Emerson neighborhood. Multiple homes have also been built in the Glen Park neighborhood.

There was also a ceremonial ground breaking today for a new 3 in 1 restaurant complex downtown across from the stadium.

There is still a lot of corruption in the city government though. The stadium came out at nearly double the cost it should have. Jewell Harris Sr. (a guy that has been in NW Indiana politics for years) is under federal investigation for his part in this. He owned the trucking company that did all the hauling for the stadium construction. It has been found that he double billed the city.

Crime has significantly dropped over the years though, until recently the police force was getting extra funding, the current mayor has changed this, instead he has been highering Auxilary police.

The city does have a very bad image to overcome but I really hope that it can pull through.

Any other questions about what is going on in Gary (at least as stated in the media) just let me know. I am not trying to misrepresent or make things look better than they are. I am simply stating what is happening. Any questions negative or positive that you may have let me know.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
4 years after the original post on the undercard New Haven is the definite winner. Its a city that really is improving every year. Hartford may be a tough place but it still doesn't have the disinvestment that Gary and Camden have.
 

Tresmo

Cyburbian
Messages
873
Points
20
My vote goes with Camden.

Gary ... I think it's too far gone. Unlike Camden, Gary still has a a racially integrated, middle to upper middle class neighborhood (Miller), but for the most part Gary is a shell of what it once was. Gary is too far from white collar employment centers, so attracting professional middle class residents will be a challenge. The African-American middle and upper middle class in the still-very segregated Chicagoland region are settling down in the southeastern suburbs (Matteson, Tinley Park, etc), and there's some buppie gentrification in neighborhoods south of Hyde Park in Chicago. Housing in NW Indiana and Chicago's southern 'burbs is still very affordable compared to the region as a whole, so there's no economic incentive for gentrification.
I have several friends who live in the region and commute to Chicago. They make enough money to live downtown (in Chicago), but don't. But they also choose to live in Valparaiso, St. John, Hobart, or Merrillville (if you consider that a city instead of a strip of restaurants on US 30 :p ), which are a good distance south of Gary, Whiting, and Hammond, and add a lot to the commute. If those closer cities improved a bit, my friends have said they would live there, especially if Gary could open up its waterfront. I imagine that would be incredibly expensive and a toxic waste nightmare. But it would be nice. Heck, I'd move there. :-|

Camden or Gary? Offhand I would say Camden, but Philadelphia has its own problems and isn't in a position to bring up Camden right now. Plus if Camden hasn't been pulled up by Philly yet, I don't see it happening soon. It does have a lot of plusses, that jresta outlined.
 
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