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New Jersey's southern counties have sections so rural, there are no road signs; if you don't know where you are, you're not from around here. That's NJ culture, beneath the thick layers of accesibility that make the state so accomodating to immigrants still in the process of moving on from the ports, professionals working in and around New York or Philadelphia, and other transients. At its core, New Jersey is an old place, one of the original colonies, and there are families who go back that far. And there are families who don't, who came over from city neighborhoods in the 1960's or last year. And they know each other.
The flat land, the low land, the water-riven land that leads every crick to a river or the ocean. New Jersey culture is attuned to water. Going down the shore, to Atlantic City, gazing longingly across the rivers at Philadelphia or New York, the long wet winters. It's all salt and dreaming, New Jersey. Film was born in New Jersey, flickering in Thomas Edison's laboratory and in early Fort Lee studios before heading west. One of the early stars of film and pop music, Frank Sinatra, was born in Hoboken in 1915; he also went west. In 1951, the American love of driving found it's quintessential expression in the New Jersey Turnpike, a massive highway that is still the most heavily travelled toll road in the country. Travel, escape, driving away and leaving it all behind - all part of New Jersey culture. But coming home, too. Loyalty to an old place, a home that refuses to reveal its beauty and value to the browser. New Jersey is the nation's largest neighborhood, a place that doesn't impress anyone just passing through. The landscape must be lived in, demands habitation.