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Delaware Water Gap: a landmark border crossing or simply a pretty place to pay a toll?

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Within the lower 48, one the humblest of great border crossings is the Delaware Water Gap, separating Pennsylvania and New Jersey.My use of an oxymoron—“humblest” coupled with “great”—is deliberate. Because in most respects (certainly from a flatlander like me) it’s a geographic marvel, yet, outside of the surrounding region, little evidence suggests that it’s a …Read more…

Murals for Mayberry. Or Peapack-Gladstone.

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Over the last decade or so, we’ve witnessed an explosion of murals on the blank sides of buildings. Not surprisingly, it began as a largely big-city phenomenon, most prominently in Philadelphia, whose Mural Arts Program has achieved international recognition for the time, effort and artistry expended on these majestic, multi-story tableaus. (It has also spawned a …Read more…

Bridging the gap between state budgets.

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The unincorporated community of Upper Black Eddy clutches the western bank of the Delaware River as though its existence depends upon the aquatic arterial. Because it does.        It’s so small, the Census doesn’t even track it. Despite the fact the hotel operated by the Black family first operated at least 150 years ago, the …Read more…

Have fun. Violators will be prosecuted.

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It’s a serene setting: a community park in the verdant, affluent borough of Glen Gardner, New Jersey, population 1,700.The park is almost as obscure as the borough itself, which consists primarily of a main street that runs parallel to the lightly traveled Route 31, with a creek and a thick wall of trees separating the …Read more…

Alpha, New Jersey: The town the freeway DIDN’T destroy.

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Stretching 144 miles from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to the Holland Tunnel just outside Manhattan, Interstate 78 is hardly among the longer limited-access highways in the country. And, while certainly busy, I’d imagine plenty other freeways out there link a greater number of major population centers than I-78. Elsewhere in New Jersey, the Turnpike unquestionably carries a …Read more…

Mall department stores: will the last one please turn the lights out?

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We’ve been hearing and witnessing for years the turbulent state of American retail. Conventional sellers of durable goods—of housewares, sporting goods, electronics, and clothes—have suffered in general, and malls have suffered in particular. But even more salient have been the struggles of the historic department stores to our malls. Scarcely a week goes by when …Read more…

Enhanced security and its bleak, inconvenient aftermath.

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These days, if you’re looking to fly out of Newark Liberty International (EWR) and you have no choice but to approach this widely transit-accessible airport by car, chances are strong that you’ll save big bucks by opting for one of the independent, off-site parking providers. And then, if you opt for one of those off-site …Read more…

Another defunct college campus, cleft in two.

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If I call this article my third installment in a trilogy on abandoned campuses, I guess that implies that I’m done with the subject for a while. And I am. But after exploring old campuses in small cities (or perhaps “big towns” is the better term) in Nebraska and South Dakota, it’s time to take a …Read more…