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"Our Liberties We Prize, Our Rights We Will Defend."

Commentary on national and local events from the standpoint of a Trenton city resident and state worker.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Trenton - At Least its not Camden

At least some of the houses in Trenton are still occupied.  This is a shot of "The Land of the Damned" in South Camden.

This is is a picture I ripped from Google Images.  Yeah, I sometimes cheat, but at least I tell you when I do.   I don't know for certain, but I believe it is from South Camden off of Broadway near the South Jersey Port Authority Broadway Terminal, which at one time was the home of the New York Shipbuilding Co. where the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk and many another proud American warship were built over a period of more than half a century.  These homes no doubt were occupied by workers from New York Ship or by other nearby manufacturing concerns.

New York Ship, Campbell's Soup and RCA were the big three manufacturing powerhouses in the city.  The were to that city what Roebling Steel, American Steel and Trenton Pottery were to our city.  Well all good things must eventually come to an end and after the Kitty Hawk was completed in 1961, no more large ships were built there.  Finally, in 1967, New York Ship folded.  And so the rest of the neighborhood began to go after that.  And it of course did not help matters when it was discovered that a nearby abandoned dress factory on the corner of Jefferson and Broadway was found to be heavily contaminated with radioactive thorium.  Seems that prior to becoming a garment mill the building in question was the General Gas Mantle plant which manufactured lamp mantles or the cloth bags that used to go over the outlet pipes on gas lamps.  When the gas was turned on and the mantle lit, it would produce a glow and emit light like a modern light bulb.  The "secret ingredient" in the mantle that made it an effective light emitter was thorium, which came from sand brought to the plant for processing..

For more about New York Shipbuilding Co., see
For more information on General Gas Mantle see
and and

Over the years, the workers took the sand home with them and used it in children's sandboxes and to mix concrete.  Some put it in the soil of their gardens to make it lighter.  In the process, the whole neighborhood was contaminated with radioactive radiation and the housing was abandoned.  Most has since been torn down.

I decided to write about Camden today because my job brought me there last Thursday and I got to ride down Broadway all the way from the Roman Catholic Cathedral downtown to Fairview Avenue which lies just past New York Ship.  This drive takes you through the city's Combat Zone, a netherworld of hookers, junkies, drunks and busted up buildings.

If you want a movie set to shoot a gang picture in the hood, or better yet a movie about down-and-out drunks or junkies, this would be the perfect location.  Life Magazine did a photo shoot down there this past winter.  Their camera crew rode on the needle bus which passes out clean needles to the junkies.  Recently, Parkway Recovery, a methadone treatment center, was closed on Broadway to make way for construction of a medical school.  Parkway Recovery used to treat over 700 junkies a day.  I don't know where they go now.  It seems Camden is the Aids and Heroin capital of the state.

An image of an obviously Aids infected hooker I saw last Thursday still sticks in my mind.  She was real skinny, kind of like the people in Ethiopia.  She was wearing a halter top and her breast were so flat, her chest looked like that of a six year old girl.  Her legs were like bones.  I wonder what kind of tricks are desperate enough to pick her up.

By the way, I'm not the only one in blogland to refer to Camden as a damned city or compare that town to Trenton.  To see a blog with some interesting pictures of Camden and Trenton, click here. 

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