Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What is South Jersey?

I've been following Allison Winn Scotch's advice on how to make this blog more popular by finding other shore blogs, and came across The Jersey Side by John Shabe, and his post about what actually is north and south Jersey. You can read about it here.

I have a few things to say about this. Before delving full time into the world of freelance writing, I was editor of SJ Magazine, and we said that we would cover anything south of Trenton (the only time I ever stretched this line was to interview Zach Braff. Yes, he's from north Jersey, but would you pass up the opportunity? I think not). After a year at that job, and reading through New Jersey Monthly's attempt to dedicate an entire issue to the topic (sorry guys -- I absolutely love writing for you, but when you say the only decent restaurant in south Jersey is in Tom's River, I have to take you to task...but that was in 2005, so there's been time for change), I gave up trying to figure out the distinction. Even the Daily Show tried to chime in by interviewing my then-boss (Rob Corddry's a very nice guy, FYI), but that was more for yucks than an attempt to define the regions.

I think it depends on where you live. If you read through the comments on Shabe's blog, you'll see that north Jersey folk are giving us places like Six Flags and the Driscoll Bridge. Ask 100 people from this area if we think that's south Jersey, and I bet 100 of them will scream no. And maybe 10 would give you the finger.

Why write about this on a shore blog? Because I had to make a call re: north versus south Jersey for my book. It's not about the entire coast. I did that for a few reasons. First, I couldn't find another book that hyper focused on the areas from Atlantic City through Cape May, which gives my book a distinction in the guide book field. I don't think that, if you're going to visit the shore, you're going to go from a north Jersey to a south Jersey town. I wanted to focus the book on where people from my area -- Philadelphia, and its Pa. and NJ suburbs -- go on vacation. LBI was on the cusp because I know a few people who go there, but it was ultimately cut because it didn't have a strong enough connection to the rest of the region. It didn't fit.

I could also argue that the book covers places you would get to via the Atlantic City Expressway. You can chime in, too, on whether you think I made the right call or not (and please do so through the comments, or email me at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com), but so far I've learned this: I have met a lot of people who are saying thank you for writing a book just about just this region because some of the smaller south shore towns have been glossed over by other shore travel guides. If I had to cover the state's coastline top to bottom, I might have done the same. But I'm glad I had the chance to dedicate so many pages to a region so many people love.

Anyway, that's my north Jersey versus south Jersey ramble for the evening. And if you happen to be one of my editors at New Jersey Monthly and are thinking of doing another issue about just that, I hope you at least give me a chance to write about dining in south Jersey. I do live in Collingswood, after all.

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Gwen said...

As someone who lives almost ON 195 (or 138 as it's called in my neck of the woods), this area is kind of New Jersey's red-headed stepchild. Those in the south call us north. Those in the north call us south. To vacationers, we're the northern Jersey Shore. And we call ourselves central.

I'd say that northern New Jersey ends around mid-way through Middlesex County and true southern New Jersey starts about half-way through Ocean County. Southern Middlesex, Mercer, Monmouth and northern Ocean Counties are central NJ to me.

But it is subjective, isn't it?

Mark said...

I agree with your assessment Jen. Having grown up in South Jersey, I never thought of the Southern Jersey shore as anywhere north of Atlantic City.

Matt Katz said...

Wait just one second. There's a NORTHERN part to New Jersey?!? Weird.