New York City is a thrill close up but if you head to neighbouring New Jersey, you’ll get bigger, better views of Brooklyn Bridge, The Empire State Building et al. In fact those in the know say that New Jersey is where you should stay when visiting the Big Apple. You’ll get perspective (whereas if you stay in NYC, the views you’ll wake up to are those of New Jersey) and your wallet will thank you too (hotels in NYC can be bankers' bonus expensive).
But more than that, New Jersey oozes character in spades - it’s certainly not just another New York suburb. It’s gritty rather than pretty perhaps, but at least - unlike so many American suburbs with their identikit white picket fences - New Jersey can never be described as beige.
Today New Jersey is best known for the McMansions that play a starring role in reality show The Real Housewives of New Jersey and guidos and guidettes (slang for working-class urban Italian Americans) whose daily routine can be summed up in three letters: GTL (gym, tanning and doing laundry).
Nonetheless there’s more to the shore than The Sopranos and Snooki of MTV reality show, Jersey Shore, fame. This is the world that spawned Frank Sinatra: old Blue Eyes was born in Hoboken, New Jersey on 12 December 1915 - and his first New Jersey driver's license sold for a whopping US$15,575 at auction only last week. It’s also the birth place of Thomas Edison (the inventor of the lightbulb), the Boss, aka Bruce Springsteen and the Four Seasons. "We put Jersey on the map" declares Tommy DeVito of the Four Seasons at the start of The Jersey Boys - the hit musical that’s been made into a Clint Eastwood film.
Speaking of which, America’s film industry may now call Hollywood home but it began in a production studio in West Orange, New Jersey back in 1889 with the Black Maria (the first motion picture to be copyrighted in the United States).
Elsewhere New Jersey is home to the Ivy League Princeton University - one of the top universities not just in America but in the world. Meanwhile contrary to public perception, New Jersey boasts two of New York City's blockbuster sights: here’s looking at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. And not for nothing is New Jersey known as the Garden State: agriculture is New Jersey’s third largest industry, behind pharmaceuticals and tourism, with a quarter of the state compromising farmland.
If further poof was needed that New Jersey isn’t actually the armpit of America, consider this: the Garden State’s Met Life Stadium scored the Superbowl in 2014, bringing the big game to New Jersey. The 2014 Superbowl - featuring a sensational half time performance from music maestro, Bruno Mars - was history making: it was the the first time the league went to a cold-weather site that doesn't have a dome.
The moral of this tale? Be nice to New Jersey. There are plenty of jokes we can make about Joisey but there's a lot to love too.