New Jersey Geography, Fiscally Reimagined

If someone asks you, “What part of New Jersey are you from?” you’ve probably got a stock answer—town, county, North/South Jersey, the Shore. But those are all staid responses lacking any je ne sais quoi. If you want to inject a little cachet into that response, try some new terms—“New Jersey’s Wealth Belt,” or “the Northern Exurban Fringe.”

Among the many interesting informational tidbits contained in Rutgers University’s regional report of “fiscal flows in New Jersey,” is a map that breaks down the Garden State’s 21 counties into six distinct regions in an effort to “identify areas of common economic, demographic, and land-use conditions.”

New Jersey natives probably recall the old regionalized map of the state delineating the geographical differences between north, west, east and south. That map is generally burned into the brains of elementary school students in the state during geography class, but basically forgotten as time goes on. It’s now passé.

The old identifiers described on that geographical map—the Valley and Ridge, Highlands, Piedmont, Inner Coastal Plain, and Outer Coastal Plain regions—are too broad and inexact for non-geologists to consider valuable, and not descriptive enough to give a clear sense of your New Jersey bona fides.

The fiscal map featured in the report illustrates six regions, instead of five, and determines their regional association according to the amount of tax money the counties generate and receive back from the state in the form of aid. They also offer some enticing new terminology that sounds fairly dazzling.

The six new regions—the Mature Core Metropolis, Northern Exurban Fringe, New Jersey’s Wealth Belt, Metro South, Southern Shore, and Rural South are broken down here:

So, the next time someone asks you, “What part of New Jersey are you from?” and you’ve grown tired of evoking confusion by somberly responding with geographical lameness “the Inner Coastal Plain” or “the Piedmont;” then perhaps you can spice things up by responding impressively—“I’m from the Wealth Belt…no big deal.” Or, with demonstrable cosmopolitanism—“We reside in the Mature Core Metropolis, thank you very much.”

My personal favorite of the new designations is the Northern Exurban Fringe. The term offers a nice balance of locational specificity (north) and an air of calculated mystery (exurban fringe). The Metro South is pretty nice, too—pithy and straightforward.

Which part of the (new) New Jersey are you from?

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