Monday, November 22, 2004

Camden, Oh Camden

The AP reports that my birthplace, Camden, New Jersey, has been named America's most dangerous city. It's about time.

For years throughout the '80s and '90s, Camden was routinely named America's "worst city" by, I think, U.S. News, or some such magazine. Camden has had three of its mayors indicted in the last 10 years.

You have to laugh at Camden, because otherwise you'd cry. I remember seeing pictures of Camden from the '40s when it was a beautiful, shining town, nestled on the Delaware river across from center city Philadelphia. And if you drive through Camden today, you can still see echoes of the past in the architecture of detailing on old brownstones and brick townhouses.

I've always thought that Camden would be the perfect laboratory for a government that wanted to fix inner-city blight. It has all the afflications of Compton or Detroit, but it's small enough to manage. If someone in either New Jersey or the federal government was serious about figuring out how to rescue America's inner cities, they would start with Camden and try every tool in the box--empowerment zones, school vouchers, broken-windows policing, faith-based community outreach--to see what works.


dillon said...

You'd have to look to the state house in New Jersey for this highly worthy experiment.

The real divide in America isn't really between Red and Blue states. It is between urban and rural America. States whose cities aren't big enough to carry the state are red and when they are, they'blue.

The current administration is no friend to the city. Thats where all the Volvo driving latte drinkers live.

XwhisperedthoughtsX said...

cool blog! take a look at mine x

jk said...

I like it. How about we give Camden to the Republicans, and look for a similar city to give the Democrats. Give them each a budget -- adn see what works.

A Commenter on my blog ( suggests Compton, CA