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Thursday, 2 August 2012

Camden, New Jersey

Setting Out

Philly skyline recedes

Camden skyline advances

Closer view of Campbell's Field
On a Clear Day in Camden
You Can Almost Be in Brooklyn
Camden, New Jersey
By many accounts, Camden ought to be part of Philadelphia.

Something like our 'fifth' borough, our Brooklyn -- even with a great, old bridge. New York has the Brooklyn Bridge. We have our Ben. To be sure, Camden lacks Brooklyn's zeitgeist. Instead of hipsters, this city has mobsters. Instead of Orthodox Jews, this city has Orthodox Black Muslims. As for Camden's notorious slums. Well, they would fit nicely in the Badlands of North Philly, thank you. All in all, same church. Different pew.

I got here by walking over the Ben. You can drive. Toll. You can take the PATCO subway. Fare. There's a ferry. Fare. And I suppose you can swim. Fine if you get caught. I walked. The trek took a leisurely 30 minutes. Here's the thing. I was -- like -- the only one. True, I was passed by -- from the Camden direction -- by a couple of deadbeats. They were obviously dodging the PATCO fare.

On such a good, glorious day, on the Brooklyn Bridge, the footpaths would be mobbed. In all my journey from Old City, Philly, to downtown here was about two miles. Not such a long distance -- unless you work for PATCO, it seems.

I wound up at the PATCO Transportation Center to arrange for a commuter ticket. (I have plans with Camden in my sights, you see).
'Did you come over on a paper ticket?' the clerk, a young female, asked.
'No, I walked.'
''You walked! All the way from Philly!'
'Yep, two miles isn't very much, really.'
'Shenayda,' the clerk calls out, 'this guy walked all the way from Philly.'
'What some people do,' Shenayda said.
'Do you walk in marathons? the first clerk said.
OK. It's not Brooklyn.
-- Richard Carreño