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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Photos: Camden, NJ- Then and Now

Camden is a city located in the southwest portion of New Jersey along the Delaware River with the large metropolitan city of Philadelphia on the other side of the river.  It was originally incorporated as a city in 1828 and has a population of just over 77,000.

It was once a thriving center for manufacturing and industry, but now, according to Wikipedia, "Camden is perhaps best known for its struggles with urban dysfunction. Three Camden mayors have been jailed for corruption... Since 2005 the school system and police department have been operated by the State of New Jersey; the takeover will expire in 2012.  In 2008, Camden had the highest crime rate in the U.S. with 2,333 violent crimes per 100,000 people while the national average was 455 per 100,000... Two out of every five residents are below the national poverty line."

During the generation between 1967 and 1990, all the city's major factories, including a shipyard and plants for RCA and the Campbell Soup Co., closed.  Camden was afflicted by race rioting in the 1970s, decades of losing middle-class residents to the suburbs, and an epidemic of drug-related violence. The schools have been partially under state control. So dire is the budget crisis that officials threatened to shut down the entire city library system, and last month the city announced severe budget cuts for police, firefighters and city employees, laying off 25-33% of each sector.

So let's take a look in pictures of Camden, NJ of the past and the present.  Some of the old views will be of historical postcards but I felt they still presented an accurate picture of the vitality of Camden in the past.

First..  Camden of the past...

~ Caption:  "Probably no city in this part of the country affords better living facilities than does Camden..."

And now.. Camden today...


  1. It looks like a 3rd world battle zone. What caused this? Why did the factories close at first. I can see why they don't want to be there now.

  2. My father owned two housing units in Camden in the 90's he was a landlord. We spent alot of time in Camden. It was worse in the 90's infact the worst year Camden had was in the mid to late 90's when it had the most murders it ever did in a single year. I can't explain the insanity I seen in Camden NJ. Camden is the closest thing to New York City in the past (1960,70,80s). you would need 10 Camdens to equal the South Bronx and Harlem in that era of New York City. I only seen worse things in NYC back then. Since NYC has cleaned up alot. Big turn around, but still problems but not like the past. Camden is pretty close though, most of south jersey is nice country like small towns and farms, but Camden is the worst. North and Central Jersey have more ghettos alot more. Newark, Patterson, East Orange, Jersey City, Irvington, Elizabeth, Passic, Union, Hoboken, Palinfield, New Brunswick, Perth Amboy etc., and all these cities have and are known for crime and ghettos, but again Camden takes the crown its the worst. I went back to Camden after many years and it actually looks better then the 90's. Then the downtown was burned to the ground at least thats what it looked like, after the had some riots on mystive night before halloween. The downtown are lay in ruins for a while from what I remeber, but the have since done a nice job in cleaning the downtown area up, and a few to little business have sprung up, but an overall improvment for the past. However i saw North East and South Camden and it pretty much looked the same, the other parts of the city still run down like I remeber from the 90's. I don't understand as bad as Camden was in the 90's it gets alot more attention now (for all the wrong reasons) and no one has put a big effort into fixing the city. Jersey hasn't done much at all or the fedral goverment. Detroit's car factories got bailed out by the fed. goverment, and New Orleans has gotten help from the fed. goverment since hurricane Katrina. I guess because Camden is a small city so maybe thats why no one cares! I hope Camden has its day in the Sun, it has to stop raining some day.GREAT BLOG I LIKE IT AND THE MUSIC IS GREAT!!

  3. I was born and raised until I recently moved to Florida when I was in 7th grade doesn't all look like that . There are nice parts there too , they can u=only exploit the extreme ghetto parts, because thats what the bad, people do , there is alot of good, educated people that live in Camden , just trying to make a living like everyone else . Everyone looks out for one another ! Because we understand there situations, so before someone critcizes the WORST parts of Camden, NJ and put them all over the internet , take a little trip to visit them , they have alot of nice businesses , and what you see up there is North Camden , and is by far the worst , then South Camden ,but not as bad that is where the Cooper River Hospital is . And East Camden, is VERY close to Pennsauken which could be considered a "suburb" so they are civilized and keep after themselves , so don't judge ones character nor personality based off where they come from . But based off what they bring to the table.

  4. To understand what happened in Camden you have to understand the development of Urban
    America at large as well as the changing economic paradigm and white racism. The simple version goes like this

    1) WWII boom time economy creates massive amounts of wealth some of which spills over to African Americans who move into industrial cities for employment opportunities

    2) After WWII economic boom continues along with increasing black migration. Because of racist housing policies at the time blacks can only buy in black neighborhoods creating tremendous pressure on existing housing stock.

    3) Whites can take advantage of the G.I bill to move out of the city into surrounding suburbs while blacks cannot. As blacks enter the housing whites are leaving white flight accelerates exponentially because of racism and fear of declining property values.

    4) Businesses follow the people out of the cities.

    5) The city is a shell of it's former self. The residents who can't flee the city are those you simply can't afford too. Because you now have a city composed of poverty stricken residents and no business you have no tax base. Without a tax base you continue decline in vicious cycle where the only people who live in the city are those who can't escape. Attempts to revive the city often come at the expense of those already living there hurting them further

  5. I appreciate the comments to this posting.. some truly excellent points have been made, in particular the most recent comment addressing post-WWII and "white flight". As I had written in a follow-up posting a week or so ago, the current recession it itself did not cause Camden's economic deterioration- its been decades in he making, but it certainly exacerbated it. And my concern and fear is that as more tax bases shrink in more urban cities, and municipalities are forced into harsh austerity, the situation in Camden will pop up in other parts of the nation, affecting even more innocent people.

  6. What happened in Camden was a culmination of factors, but lets not dance around the elephant in the room. Yes Blacks were restricted from moving into certain areas, but why were Whites so eager to flee to suburbs?

    Look at any major city and you see the same results, it is called White flight.

    Increased Crime, increase in violence, increase of those dependent on assistance, failing schools (related to lack of discipline and learning from home) and the general overall adoption of the entitlement class - "It's not my responsibility/fault".

    Every neighborhood you see that is predominately black is full of litter that gathers up on unkempt property that is spray painted with grafitti. Picking up a piece of trash, or not throwing on the ground in the first place, takes a certain mindset. The mindset that calls for responsibility for one's actions. This does not exist in the black communities today, it is taught to them that they are perpetual victims. It is a sad state of affairs. Blacks that succeed and move on are shamed into being Uncle Tom's or sell outs.

    If it was racist policies that caused whites to flee, then explain Willingboro NJ? A ghetto in the suburbs, that at one time prevented Blacks from living there. Once they started moving in, all of the above happened. Now it is one of the worst school systems with drugs, stabbings and murders all to common in an area of NJ that is usually shocked by a report of a car radio theft.

    Blacks perpetual state of affairs is always due to the white man, or the asians moving in and risking their lives to sell food/goods. Even with generations living without having to work, without having to pay for food, without having to pay for rent, they are still being repressed. Tests scored are lowered, unqualified people are given jobs and promoted, incentive after incentive is given to them, but it will never be enough. Another 100 years from how, every major urban area will look like Camden and the blame will still be just as strong and the same.

    1. Excellent explanation! Be prepared for harsh backlash because you placed blame on a group of people that isn't supposed to be criticized these days regardless as to whether they are to blame or not.

  7. You have to be an idiot to don't realize the causes of Camden's sad story.

    The formula is simple: As ``minorities`` move in, whites move out and the city becomes decadent. There is NOT A SINGLE EXCEPTION. I can give you many examples, like DETROIT, LA (and probably the whole state of California), Miami, Southern Chicago, DC and a lot more.

    Just take a look at the ethnic makeup of Camden 50 years ago and compare it to now. Today only 10% of the city is white.

    This tragedy is happening EVERYWHERE in America. There is no hope for this once great country and the American people are on the path to self-destruction. I feel sorry for the few americans who still care about their heritage and country.

  8. I received today 6/25/2012 a rather ignorant comment that this posting was secretly racially biased because supposedly I chose 'select' photos of Camden to give it the appearance of being run-down. It is stupidity like that which made me turn off comments in other postings.. few to none leave positive comments or words of encouragement... only trashing. There is nothing 'secretive' about my intent to show how white flight, and a subsequent rise in criminality and drugs in Camden drove out the businesses, which increased the poverty cycle where most educated blacks fled and replaced by the lower class. And is what Camden is now overall--- a filthy, crime ridden, dirty, dangerous place to live.