1. Not pumping your own gas
Apparently New Jersey residents can’t be trusted to pump gas without accidentally setting a fire or two. To keep us safe, self-service gas stations have been illegal in our state since 1949. Jersey is the only place left in the US where this is still true, but we see it as a source of pride rather than cause for embarrassment.
Every attempt to reverse the ban has been strongly opposed not only because of the thousands of jobs the law creates, but also because it’s part of our culture now. Besides, what would we do with all of our “Jersey girls don’t pump their own gas” merchandise?
2. A real Italian hoagie
The kind you order at a family-run corner sandwich shop, with all the toppings and sprinkled with oil and vinegar instead of mayo. In New Jersey, you’ll get addicted to the constant availability of satisfying, traditional hoagies, and learn to crave some of the more elaborate options too. Places like Hoagie Haven in Princeton became and remained popular because of their specialties like The Phat Lady — a cheesesteak hoagie topped with mozzarella sticks and fries.
3. Driving fast
New Jersey is a state of fast drivers, and when you get used to the pace, everywhere else will frustrate you. Driving is a necessity in our state and traffic jams are a collective daily burden. Our car culture is so strong that we define where we live based on our exit off the turnpike. In return, Jersey has forever made a mark on motorist history with the invention of both the jughandle and the drive-in movie theatre.
4. Going to the mall
New Jersey holds the title of most shopping malls in one area of the world, and no matter what you need, you’ll get addicted to the convenience of always having a large shopping mall nearby to serve that need.
You may not enjoy the experience — and in Jersey, going to the mall often is an experience — but you’ll find yourself resigned to relying on them.
5. Boardwalk culture
New Jersey invented the boardwalk as we know it today, and no one else does it quite like us.
With the rise of luxury seaside resorts in Atlantic City during the 1800s, local businessmen quickly realized that they had a problem: visitors either avoided the sand or tracked it back with them through hotels and high-end stores. Railroad conductor Alex Boardman solved the problem by building an 8-foot wide wooden walkway running from the hotels along the shore. By the early 1900s it changed from a seasonal to a permanent fixture while adjoining piers were built for amusement. Shows, contests, concerts and food grew around the boardwalk and added life to the previously sedate promenade.
This trendsetting boardwalk inspired more throughout the East Coast before the concept spread west to California. Even Middle American began constructing ‘riverwalks’ to emulate the boardwalk culture alongside the only water they had access to.
The Atlantic City boardwalk is over 60 feet wide and 6 miles long now, and boardwalk culture has only grown with it. You’ll quickly become addicted to the both the lively entertainment and the natural beauty of a Jersey Shore summer.
6. Walking across history
With over 100 battles fought within New Jersey’s boundaries, our state is known as ‘the Pathway of the Revolution”. Both Princeton and Trenton temporarily served as the nation’s capital during the war, and the famous Burr-Hamilton duel took place in Weehawken. Living surrounded by so much history is something you will quickly grow to love and crave.
7. The pride you feel every time Jon Stewart talks about his home state
Because Jon Stewart is amazing, and anything that you have in common must be wonderful.
8. The diversity
You may not think of New Jersey as being an especially diverse place, but we really are a state of contradictions. We have several coexisting identities, emphasized by our north-south divide, and the communities you’ll find by the shore share little in common with what you will witness in Hoboken.
We have WASPy New England types and serious scholars living amongst artists and hippies, with the odd Philly bro thrown into the mix. We’re a hard people to sum up, and that’s one of the reasons that living in New Jersey is interesting.
The one thing you can count on: in the most densely populated state, you have a pretty good chance of meeting some great people!