293 - Come Visit New Jersey... You'll Never Leave
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
(click on image to enlarge)
The Zeitgeist of the mid ‘fifties probably wasn’t shrinkwrapped in quite so many layers of irony and political correctness as today’s is, or a map like this would never have been made – let alone contemplated. It looks like a tourist map of New Jersey, inviting patrons to come sample the delights of the Garden State. On closer inspection, it details as New Jersey’s main attractions its prisons… as if this is the Warden State instead.\n
An arrow points to Atlantic City, and to the map’s purpose: Here the American Prison Association, October 8th – 13th. The place that serves as an East Coast alternative to Las Vegas (minus the sunshine, plus a boardwalk) apparently hosted a convention for the APA in early October of 1955. Here’s an overview of the places in NJ that epitomise the subject matter of the convention, if not its rather more pleasant surroundings (north to south):\n
- The Essex County Penitentiary at Caldwell and the Hudson County Penitentiary at Secaucus, both near Newark. \n
- Annandale Farms: Here minimum security prison for men 18-30 trainable in vocational and agricultural work. \n
- Reformatory for Women at Clinton, not too far from Annandale Farms: Here minimum security for all women over 17 – cottages for classification. \n
- Reformatory Rahway, on the southern outskirts of Newark and seemingly, quite cruelly, within sight of the Statue of Liberty: Here maximum and limited security for industrial type prisoner under 30. \n
- Middlesex County Workhouse at New Brunswick and Mercer County Workhouse. \n
- Home for Boys at Jamesburg: Here juveniles 9 to 17 – cottage plan – educational and vocational training. \n
- Home for Girls at Trenton: Here juveniles 9-17 – cottage plan – educational and vocational training. \n
- State Prison at Trenton: Maximum security for psychotic and psychopathic inmates from all penal and correctional institutions furnished in criminal section of Trenton State Hospital. (an arrow pointing towards the prison’s northern side, I presume, rather than to the aforementioned Home for Girls; another arrowed message reads): Here maximum security for more serious offenders with poor records – long sentences. \n
- Prison Farm at Bordentown: Here minimum custody for older men of common labor type and men nearing time of discharge. \n
- Camden County Workhouse at Angora, close to the Philadelphia-Camden conurbation. \n
- Prison Farm at Leesburg: Here minimum security for older men (of common labor type). \n
New Jersey’s road network is shown in detail, with the distances between the major cities, no doubt to facilitate the journeys of the out-of-state APA personnel attending the convention. In case some of them had some time to spare, the map also contains some genuine tourist attractions (also north to south):\n
- High Point State Park (highest point in New Jersey): A maximum elevation of 1,803 ft (550 m) doesn’t seem much to bark about, but NJ has centred a whole State Park around the aptly named High Point, in the Kittatinny Mountains – and in 1930 crowned it with a 220 ft (67 m) monument to the war dead. The park is slated for closure on 1 July 2008. \n
- In this section – mountain and lake resorts \n
- Lake Hopatcong (largest in New Jersey) popular summer resort: About 4 square miles (10 km2) large, Hopatcong used to be two lakes (Great Pond and Little Pond) before the damming of the Musconetcong River in 1750 joined the two up. Its name therefore is of relatively recent coinage. \n
- Delaware Water Gap (scenic beauty): Where the Delaware River cuts through a ridge of the Appalachian Mountains (called the Blue Mountains in Pennsylvania and the Kittatinny Ridge in New Jersey. The respective mountains on either side of the gap are Mount Tammany (PA) and Mount Minsi (NJ). \n
- Here the palisades of the Hudson River: The Palisades are a line of steep cliffs on the lower Hudson’s western shore, stretching from Jersey City (NJ) about 20 mi (32 km) north to Nyack (NY) and ranging in height from 350 to 550 ft (107 to 168 m). Apparently, the movie term cliffhanger originates here, dating back to the silent movie era. \n
- Newark’s airport is world’s busiest: At 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Manhattan’s Midtown, Newark Airport still is a major gateway into New York, but no longer the world’s busiest – not even anymore in 1955: after 1939, the opening of LaGuardia halved the traffic, giving Chicago the lead. JFK is now the US’s busiest international airport, Newark is the 10th (handling over 36 million passengers in 2007). \n
- Here New Jersey’s "skyway" – 3 miles of elevated highway reaching height of 135 feet – cost 19 millions: The General Pulaski Skyway, dubbed America’s first superhighway, carries four lanes for 3.5 miles (5.6 km) between Newark and Jersey City. It is called a skyway because it rises to a height of 135 ft (41.1 m) in order to avoid drawbridges on the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers. \n
- Here the Holland Tunnel, 9,250 ft. long, cost 48 millions: Completed in 1927, the Holland Tunnel connects Jersey City with Manhattan via two tubes, each carrying two lanes. It was named after its chief engineer, who died during a tonsillectomy the day before the two ends met. The construction had to be done under enormous pressure, to avoid the river entering the tunnel – which meant the workers had to enter the site via airlocks and had to undergo extensive decompression (over ¾ million individual decompressions were carried out, with over 500 cases of the bends nevertheless occurring). \n
- Here Fort Hancock, US defense of NY harbor: A US Army fort on Sandy Hook beachvital for the defence of NY harbour, especially during World War II, decommissioned in 1972 and now part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. \n
- Princeton University: Founded in 1748 as the College of New Jersey (at Elizabeth), the institution later moved to and named after Princeton. It is one of 8 Ivy League universities. \n
- Washington’s crossing: Here two state parks where Washington crossed Delaware: George Washington crossed the Delaware from Titusville (NJ) to Yardley (PA) on 25 December 1776 as the first move in a surprise attack on the Hessians at Trenton (NJ). The location comprises two state parks: Washington Crossing State Park on the NJ side, Washington Crossing Historic Park on the PA side. \n
- US Naval Air Station at Lakehurst, home of the Macon: Lakehurst remains infamous for the Hindenburg crash on 6 May 1937, in which that German airship burst into flames and 36 people died. In fact, the Hindenburg exploded over Manchester Township, as none of the Lakehurst Naval Air Station is actually located in Lakehurst, which would have preferred to be remembered as a rather fetching early 20th century winter resort. The Naval Air Station was the centre of American military airship development since the 1920s, housing the Macon, among others (cf. inf.) and retains its function as a research and testing station for the US Navy. \n
- Barnegat Light: A small town on the Jersey shore, getting its name from the Dutch, who in 1614 named the area Barendegat (‘Inlet of the Breakers’). Originally named Brownsville and from 1881 Barnegat City, it was renamed Barnegat Light in 1948 in honour of the Barnegat Lighthouse, which was decommissioned four years earlier. There’d been a lighthouse here since 1835, although the one remaining there is the second such structure. Commissioned in 1858, ‘Old Barney’ is the third-tallest lighthouse in the US, at 165 ft (50 m) above sea level. \n
- Here the Akron fell: The USS Akron, call letters ZRS-4, was a US Navy rigid airship launched in 1931. At 785 ft (239 m) long, it was the largest helium-filled flying object ever, together with its sister-ship the Macon. The Akron crashed in a storm off the NJ shore on 4 April 1933, killing 73 people on board – the deadliest air crash in history (so far). Only 3 men, among them Lt. Comm. Wiley, survived, fished out of the ocean by the German motorboat Phoebius. In a bizarre coincidence, another airship called the Akron, this one buoyed by hydrogen, also perished in an accident in NJ, in 1912. \n
A rather puzzling legend, which seems neither aimed at tourists nor connectet to the APA, unless very tenuously, reads: Here Vineland – famous for its contributions to our knowledge of the feebleminded. Another arrow elucidates: Here the Vineland Training School and Vineland State School.These were influential schools in the field of mental health, and is in fact here that the term moron was coined. Vineland was also the location of the Palace of Depression (not a reference to the mental state, but to the financial crisis and also dubbed America’s strangest house, completed for $4 in 1932, burned down in the ‘sixties and now being rebuilt).
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- The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.
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