Robert Hunter(don) (1710-20)

1-robert-hunterRobert Hunter was born in Edinburgh and was “the grandson of the laird of Hunterston.” Eventually a county would come to bear his name. After spending some time in a “socially dazzling captivity” by the French, he was appointed governor of New York and New Jersey.

Hunter ran right into a mess of proprietorship when he arrived. The sale of shares in West and East Jersey had devolved to the point where there were competing groups of proprietors. One group led by Daniel Coxe, son of former Governor Coxe, and another by Lewis Morris. In line with some British politics and patronage, Hunter was able to remove the Coxe faction from the upper chamber of the legislature. Coxe was able to mount a comeback in the Assembly a few years later and was named speaker. In fact, he was named speaker several times since Hunter would consistently dissolve the Assembly until “the Quaker or country party had 50 percent of the seats.”

Eventually, Coxe was defeated and fled the state. Hunter attempted a few reforms that required the crown’s approval but was denied. His term ended in 1719 but was appointed governor of Jamaica in 1727 where he died several years later.

Hunter also has the distinction of being the author of the earliest known published play in America. Androboros which lambasted his political enemies. You can read the whole thing here.

This is the eleventh in a series of brief summaries from The Governors of New Jersey. These posts are not meant to be comprehensive and I urge you to pick up a copy of the book if you have any interest in New Jersey history


Richard Ingoldesby (1709-10)

Richard Ingoldesby took office after the death of John Lovelace. He was a hold over from Cornbury’s time and due to some bureaucratic mishaps some people doubted the legitimacy of his post. The British had no desire to appoint him to a full term.

The most interesting bit in Eugene Sheridan’s essay is the way Ingoldesby tried to discredit the Quakers in the Assembly. The Assembly was attempting to pass a bill in order to raise funds to equip volunteers to invade Canada. The Quakers, being nonviolent, came up with a way to vote down the bill but still have the non-Quaker member approve it allowing them to vote against it while avoiding the “embarrassment of thwarting a measure deemed vital to local and imperial interests.”

Ingoldesby got two supporters to vote against it on the third reading and then adjourned the Assembly in order to make filling the quota impossible. He then “joined the council in urging the home authorities to exclude Quakers from all public offices in the province.” I know. What a jerk.

The whole Glorious Enterprise bit never took off and the rest of hid administration seems to consist of him pining to be the fully appointed governor of New York.

This is the tenth in a series of brief summaries from The Governors of New Jersey. These posts are not meant to be comprehensive and I urge you to pick up a copy of the book if you have any interest in New Jersey history

John Lovelace is barely worth writing about. (1708-09)

So the book I’m reading through is comprehensive in giving each and every governor an essay. No matter how brief and uninteresting their tenure.

Case in point is John Lovelace. After replacing Lord “Shrieking Laughter” Cornbury who was recalled for corruption, Lovelace spent his time negotiating with the New York and New Jersey Assemblies over salary. He took office in December 1708 and by May 5th of 1709 both states agreed on salary for their new governor.

He promptly died of a stroke the next day.

This is the ninth in a series of brief summaries from The Governors of New Jersey. These posts are not meant to be comprehensive and I urge you to pick up a copy of the book if you have any interest in New Jersey history

Our parking runneth over

Downtown Newark has an abundance of parking lots. Not so much to beat Dallas in Streetsblog’s Parking Madness but ridiculous nevertheless.

Some property owners near the train station are attempting to put in more surface parking to take advantage of the Pulaski Skyway closure and projected increased ridership into Manhattan. The residents are fed up and have taken the lead to try to stop the latest loss of street life. (Note: I have attended the Zoning Board meetings as an objector and know many of the organized residents personally but haven’t been involved in the strategy or hiring of an attorney.) 

There’s been some good writing on the proliferation of surface parking and its effects and I encourage you to read them. (Here. And here.) For that, I won’t go into why the surface lots are a cancer to city life but suffice to say, they’re pretty terrible.

What I did want to see is what car ownership rates are like in the region. I had heard that Newark has the second lowest rate of car ownership in the country behind only New York City and I wanted to see how this played out throughout the region. My assumption was that the lowest rates of ownership would be in the poorest areas.


This map surprised me. The two Census tracts just east of Penn Station in the Ironbound have some of the highest rates of no car households in the county. There are four sizable tracts in the county that have no car households over 60%. (There is one tract near the airport that has 23 people none of which own a car.) So I decided to map out median income as well.

Median Household Income

While the city is not wealthy we see that the poorest tracts are focused in the West and South Wards. There are poorer areas in Newark with higher rates of car ownership than in the Ironbound. It appears that people are living in the Ironbound and making due without a car by choice.

There may be an argument that suburban commuters need parking but I would encourage them to go to Secaucus or suggest we build a mixed use project with parking garage and wrap around retail.

A “Las Vegas style casino” just means you’re not in Las Vegas

The casino talk in the New York region keeps up. It’s important that any New Jersey discussion of whether or not to expand casino gaming outside of Atlantic City include the fact that casino expansion is likely in New York near the city.

I’ve already discussed the problems with the hope that gambling can have a positive impact on a region’s economy so I just want to focus a bit on the problems of a “Las Vegas style casino.”

Google returns over 3 million hits for that phrase. None of the top results are a definition for what exactly a “Las Vegas style casino” is. (Any time they add the word “style” to another word, someone is pulling your *****.Back when I did some research on the approval of casino gaming ballot measure in New Jersey, I came across some great quotes of casino proponents promising they wouldn’t have casinos like Las Vegas. They called them “honky tonk” casinos. Think the diviest dive bars. Casino proponents in New Jersey promised us class.

So what makes a casino Las Vegas style? Restaurants? Entertainment? Shopping? Massive hotels? Sounds a lot like the Atlantic City casinos that we have today. So why don’t we call them “Atlantic City style casinos?” Because Atlantic City gaming is in decline and there’s nothing inherently special about the style of casino in Vegas. Las Vegas is successful and Atlantic City isn’t. This is a marketing term and you shouldn’t let it fool you.

There’s one place where this type of monstrosity could make sense. I suppose if you wanted to add to the monstrosity Xanadu money pit the American Dream Meadowlands you should have all those things in one massive shrine to 20th Century shopping habits. Then we can wonder why it failed again.

If a North Jersey casino is inevitable, and it might be, it needs to follow good urban planning sense and be placed in a city. It should be small scale with a hotel but limited restaurants and no retail shopping. Or at least no shopping that doesn’t have street frontage.

Atlantic City thought casinos were the ticket to revitalization but those hulking behemoths turned their back on the fabric of the city. They brought tourism dollars into their own closed economy and the residents suffered for it. We shouldn’t make the same mistake again. If casino gaming is going to be spread as form of entertainment, it needs to be regulated in a way that helps residents and the region instead of attempting to maximize state tax collection.

But we’ll probably end up with something that looks like this.


Atlantic City Ghost Town

As if to prove the point of my earlier post, Mark Di Ionno has a piece on the emptiness of the boardwalk and the beach.

Read the whole thing but below are a few good quotes:

“The fascination of slot machines is over with,” Terrigino said. “More gambling isn’t the solution. If we don’t make it fun for people in Atlantic City, they’ll make us irrelevant.”

“We threw all the eggs in one basket. Maybe this is a wake-up call.”

Atlantic City took its greatest attraction [the beach] and made it inaccessible.

“Our beaches are beautiful. You can’t beat it,’ said Terrigino, “but other towns do better bringing people to the beach.”

As Atlantic City casinos close, ghost town replaces boardwalk empire |

Atlantic City’s Uncertain Future

The Philly Inquirer has an article highlighting the unprecedented job losses that the Atlantic City region is about to face. It’s certainly going to be a challenge for the city and the state. While the state will need to focus on retraining and matching these workers with new jobs, the other side of recovery is what to do about Atlantic City itself.

This quote by mayor Don Guardian just seems wrong to me.

“At $50 million [Revel], it’s certainly a bargain-basement price for a brand-new facility. It’s finding the right buyer, meaning having the financial wherewithal, and then that buyer finding the right brand to come in and run it,” he said.

While it may make sense to retool Revel for another casino given the construction of the building, the idea that we need to simply find the right “brand” is misguided. Gamblers aren’t abandoning Atlantic City because they prefer the brand of their local casinos. They prefer the location. Atlantic City has lost its monopoly on east coast gaming and it will have to face the fact that casino gaming is going to make up a far smaller portion of its tourist economy.

Atlantic City will benefit from standard quality of life and urbanist infrastructure upgrades. Asbury Park was able to improve its downtown and boardwalk without casino gaming after being labeled a ghost town by Weird NJ in the late 1990s. Atlantic City needs to follow its lead and work on small scale projects that bring residents, offices, and retail to the downtown.

The city is facing similar issues to New Jersey’s other urban areas. What makes it different is its beachfront and the failed revitalization attempt of casino gaming. It should be able to use the same tools that helped revitalize portions of Newark, New Brunswick and Asbury Park while also leveraging its unique assets.

I’m still an optimist when it comes to Atlantic City’s future. Here’s to hoping decision makers get a little more grounded in their attempts.

via Atlantic City facing unprecedented economic collapse –