0152 The Most Dangerous City Award (USA 079—new)

Camden Travel Blog

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Beautiful Camden (OK--that is an abandoned house in the background...)

Episode 05: Jersey Shore

 Last weeks “cram tour” went pretty well, so this week I’m going to try it again… Directly from work, I hit the road…

 This time I’m heading east—to revisit a couple of New Jersey towns…hopefully including Ocean City which I visited, but didn’t manage to parkbench last summer…

 And, as Camden usually is at the top of the list of "The Most Dangerous Cities in America", it's a must do for my parkbenching tour.   Let's see what all the hype is about...

 I drive across the Ben Franklin bridge from Philadelphia to what looks like a mid-size downtown area.   Well, it turns out to be little more than one enormous glorified parking lot for suburbanites to catch shuttles into Philadelphia.  I guess that's a good thing for Philadelphia--but c'mon! show Camden a little respect!

 Since I've determined to never pay for parking while parkbenching,  I drive a little ways looking for side streets with "free" spaces...

 But suddenly, as soon as the "Parking Lot" ends, I enter the moonscape.

 Well, it's actually more like the set for the movie "Robocop" or some other B-rated post-apocalyptic flick... piles of twisted metal... crumbling buildings... fields of weeds... more piles of twisted metal... No sign of a city anywhere... Pretty much TUC (Total Urban Decay)...

 So this is what the world will look like if all the most dire predictions come true....

 And then, just as I begin losing hope of ever seeing Civilization again, Camden is resurrected.

 In a distance of less than 300 feet, suddenly I’m in a cheerful little Main Street with Norteño and Cumbia music blasting out from little taquerias and Spanish record stores... an old lady selling traditional Mexican dresses... families of Mexicans, Central Americans and Dominicans chatting as the amble about doing their shopping--every storefront was filled.

 Say what you like about immigrants in the US, one thing you cannot deny: immigrants have breathed life back into Camden. 

 As I walk around this second little "downtown" and the surrounding idyllic neighborhoods, I ponder on this paradox:  how the very city from which everybody wants to escape for the better neighborhoods has become the "land of opportunity" for immigrants coming in pursuit of the American Dream... and they've turned it into a cheerful, lively place once again.

 Now don't get me wrong--Camden will not be turning into a Beverly Hills anytime soon--there still are a lot of crumbling, vacant buildings around--and then there's the pesky crime issue... but after driving through the post-Apocalypstic zone--I found this section of Camden to be absolutely beautiful...

 Play at a quiet little park where parents bring their children to play--with a squad car parked  nearby... 


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Beautiful Camden (OK--that is an a…
Beautiful Camden (OK--that is an …
Camden
photo by: WalterC