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The long, skinny state of NEW JERSEY has been at the heart
of US history since the Revolution , when a battle was fought
at Princeton , and George Washington spent two bleak winters
at Morristown . As the Civil War came, the state's commitment
to an industrial future ensured that, despite its border location
along the Mason-Dixon line, it fought with the Union.
That commitment to industry has doomed New Jersey in modern
times. Most travelers only see "the Garden State"
(so called for the rich market garden territory at the state's
heart) from the stupendously ugly New Jersey Turnpike toll road
which, heavy with truck traffic, cuts through a landscape of
gray smokestacks and industrial estates. Even the songs of Bruce
Springsteen , Asbury Park's golden boy, paint his home state
as a gritty urban wasteland of empty lots, gray highways, lost
dreams and blue-collar tragedy. The majority of the refineries
and factories hug only a mere fifteen-mile-wide swath along
the turnpike, but bleak cities like Newark , home to the major
airport, and Trenton , the capital, do little to improve the
look of the place and the state suffers from a major image problem.
But there is more to New Jersey than factories and pollution.
Alongside its revolutionary history, Thomas Paine and Walt Whitman
both wrote nostalgically of the happy years they spent there;
while the northwest corner near the Delaware Water Gap is traced
with picturesque lakes, streams and woodlands. Best of all,
the Atlantic shore offers many bustling resorts, from the tattered
glitz of Atlantic City to the glorious kitsch of Wildwoods and
the old-world charm of Cape May.
With a car , New Jersey is easily accessible from New York
City, via I-95, while the New Jersey Turnpike (a $6 toll road)
sweeps from the northeast down to Philadelphia. The Garden State
Parkway runs parallel to the Atlantic from New York to Cape
May (with a 35¢ toll every twenty miles), and gives easy
access to the shoreline resorts. One nice route in the north
of the state is US-29, from Trenton along the Delaware River.
In general, driving in the Garden State is not pleasurable,
though, as New Jersey must have the worst and most confusing
set of roadsigns in the States.
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