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Camden is a city in Camden County, New Jersey. Camden is located directly across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the 2010 United States Census, the city had a population of 77,344. Camden is the 12th most populous municipality in New Jersey. The city was incorporated on February 13, 1828. Camden has been the county seat of Camden County since the county was formed on March 13, 1844. The city derives its name from Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden. Camden is made up of over twenty different neighborhoods.
The city was consistently prosperous throughout the Great Depression and World War II. After World War II, Camden manufacturers began gradually closing their factories and moving out of the city. With the loss of manufacturing jobs came a sharp decline in population numbers. Suburbanization also influenced the drop in population. Civil unrest and crime became common in Camden. In 1971, civil unrest reached its peak with riots breaking out in response to the death of Horacio Jimenez, a Puerto Rican motorist who was killed by two white police officers.
The Camden waterfront holds four tourist attractions, the USS New Jersey; the BB&T Pavilion; Campbell's Field; and the Adventure Aquarium. Campbell's Field had been home to the minor league baseball team, the Camden Riversharks but is currently scheduled to be torn down. The city is the home of Rutgers University–Camden, which was founded as the South Jersey Law School in 1926, and Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, which opened in 2012. Camden also houses both Cooper University Hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center. The "eds and meds" institutions account for roughly 45% of Camden's total employment.
Camden had the highest crime rate in the United States in 2012, with 2,566 violent crimes for every 100,000 people, 6.6 times higher than the national average of 387 violent crimes per 100,000 citizens. There were 23 murders in Camden in 2017, the lowest in the city in three decades, part of a sharp drop in violent crime since 2012.
In 1626, Fort Nassau was established by the Dutch West India Company in the area that is now known as Camden, New Jersey. Europeans settled along the Delaware River, attempting to control the local fur trade. Throughout the 17th century more Europeans arrived in the area, developing it and making improvements. After the restoration period the land was controlled by nobles who served under King Charles II. ln 1673, the land was sold off to a group of New Jersey Quakers. The growth of the colony was the result of Philadelphia, a Quaker colony directly across from Camden along the Delaware River. In the Ferry systems were established to facilitate trade between Fort Nassau and Philadelphia. The ferry system operated along the east side of the Delaware River. The ferry system built by William Royden was located along Cooper Street and was turned over to Daniel Cooper in 1695. The creation of the ferry system resulted in the creation of small settlements along the Delaware River which would eventually develop into Camden.
The initial structures and settlements that formed Camden were largely established by three families: The Coopers, The Kaighns, and the Mickels. The Cooper family had the greatest impact on the formation of Camden. In 1773, Jacob Cooper developed some of the land he had inherited through his family into a "townsite." It was Jacob Cooper who gave this town the name Camden after Charles Pratt, the Earl of Camden. The lands that these families owned would eventually be combined to create the future city.
For over 150 years, Camden served as a secondary economic and transportation hub for the Philadelphia area. But that status began to change in the early 19th century. Camden was incorporated as a city on February 13, 1828, from portions of Newton Township, while the area was still part of Gloucester County. The city derives its name from Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden. One of the U.S.'s first railroads, the Camden and Amboy Railroad, was chartered in Camden in 1830. The Camden and Amboy Railroad allowed travelers to travel between New York City and Philadelphia via ferry terminals in South Amboy, New Jersey and Camden. The railroad terminated on the Camden waterfront, and passengers were ferried across the Delaware River to their final Philadelphia destination. The Camden and Amboy Railroad opened in 1834 and helped to spur an increase in population and commerce in Camden.
Horse ferries, or team boats, served Camden in the early 1800s. The ferries connected Camden and other Southern New Jersey towns to Philadelphia. Ferry systems allowed Camden to generate business and economic growth. "These businesses included lumber dealers, manufacturers of wooden shingles, pork sausage manufacturers, candle factories, coachmaker shops that manufactured carriages and wagons, tanneries, blacksmiths and harness makers." The Cooper's Ferry Daybook, 1819–1824, documenting Camden's Point Pleasant Teamboat, survives to this day. Originally a suburban town with ferry service to Philadelphia, Camden evolved into its own city. Until 1844, Camden was a part of Gloucester County. In 1840 the city's population had reached 3,371 and Camden appealed to state legislature, which resulted in the creation of Camden County in 1844.
The poet Walt Whitman spent his later years in Camden. He bought a house on Mickle Street in March 1884. Whitman spent the remainder of his life in Camden and died in 1892 of a stroke. Whitman was a prominent member of the Camden community at the end of the nineteenth century.
Camden quickly became an industrialized city in the later half of the nineteenth century. In 1860 Census takers recorded eighty factories in the city and the number of factories grew to 125 by 1870. Camden began to industrialize in 1891 when Joseph Campbell incorporated his business Campbell's Soup. Through the Civil War era Camden gained a large immigrant population which formed the base of its industrial workforce. Between 1870 and 1920 Camden's population grew by 96,000 people due to the large influx of immigrants. Like other industrial towns, Camden prospered during strong periods of manufacturing demand and faced distress during periods of economic dislocation.
At the turn of the 20th century Camden became an industrialized city. At the height of Camden's industrialization, 12,000 workers were employed at RCA Victor, while another 30,000 worked at New York Shipbuilding. RCA had 23 out of 25 of its factories inside Camden. Campbell Soup was also a major employer. In addition to major corporations Camden housed many small manufacturing companies as well as commercial offices.
From 1899 to 1967, Camden was the home of New York Shipbuilding Corporation, which at its World War II peak was the largest and most productive shipyard in the world. Notable naval vessels built at New York Ship include the ill-fated cruiser USS Indianapolis and the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk. In 1962, the first commercial nuclear-powered ship, the NS Savannah, was launched in Camden. The Fairview Village section of Camden (initially Yorkship Village) is a planned European-style garden village that was built by the Federal government during World War I to house New York Shipbuilding Corporation workers.
From 1901 through 1929, Camden was headquarters of the Victor Talking Machine Company, and thereafter to its successor RCA Victor, the world's largest manufacturer of phonographs and phonograph records for the first two-thirds of the 20th century. Victor created some of the first commercial recording studios in the United States, where Enrico Caruso, Arturo Toscanini, John Philip Sousa, Woody Guthrie, Fats Waller & The Carter Family among many others, made famous recordings. General Electric reacquired RCA and the Camden factory in 1986.
In 1919 plans for the Delaware River Bridge were enacted as a means to reduce ferry traffic between Camden and Philadelphia. The bridge was estimated to cost $29 million, but the total cost at the end of the project was $37,103,765.42. New Jersey and Pennsylvania would each pay half of the final cost for the bridge. The bridge was opened at midnight on July 1, 1926. Thirty years later, in 1956 the bridge was renamed to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
During the 1930s Camden faced a decline in economic prosperity due to the Great Depression. By the mid-1930s the city had to pay its workers in scrip because they could not pay them in currency. Camden's industrial foundation kept the city from going bankrupt. Major corporations such as Campbell's soup, New York Shipbuilding Corporation and RCA Victor employed close to 25,000 people through the depression years. New companies were also being created during this time. On June 6, 1933, the city hosted the first drive-in movie.
Camden's ethnic demographic changed drastically at the beginning of the twentieth century. German, British, and Irish immigrants made up the majority of the city at the beginning of the second half of the nineteenth century. By 1920 Italian and Eastern European immigrants had become the majority of the population. African Americans had also been present in Camden since the 1830s. The migration of African Americans from the south increased during World War II. The different ethnic groups began to form segregated communities within the city and around religious organizations. Communities formed around figures such as Tony Mecca from the Italian neighborhood, Mario Rodriguez from the Puerto Rican neighborhood, and Ulysses Wiggins from the African American neighborhood.
After close to 50 years of economic and industrial growth, the city of Camden faced a period of economic stagnation and deindustrialization: after reaching a peak of 43,267 manufacturing jobs in 1950, there was an almost continuous decline to a new low of 10,200 manufacturing jobs in the city by 1982. With this industrial decline came a plummet in population: in 1950 there were 124,555 residents, compared to just 84,910 in 1980. Alongside these declines, civil unrest and criminal activity rose in the city. From 1981 to 1990, mayor Randy Primas fought to renew the city economically. Ultimately Primas had not secured Camden's economic future as his successor, mayor Miltan Milan, declared bankruptcy for the city in July 1999.
In 1981, Randy Primas was elected mayor of Camden, but was unfortunately "haunted by the overpowering legacy of financial disinvestment". Following his election, the state of New Jersey closed the $4.6 million deficit that Primas had inherited, but also decided that Primas should lose budgetary control until he began providing the state with monthly financial statements, among other requirements. When he regained control, Primas had limited options regarding how to close the deficit, and so in an attempt to renew Camden, Primas campaigned for the city to adopt two different nuisance industries: a prison and a trash-to-steam incinerator. While these two industries would provide some financial security for the city, the proposals for them did not go over well with residents, who overwhelmingly opposed both the prison and the incinerator.
While the proposed prison, which was to be located on the North Camden waterfront, would generate $3.4 million for Camden, Primas faced extreme disapproval from residents. Many believed that a prison in the neighborhood would negatively effect North Camden's "already precarious economic situation". Primas, however, was wholly concerned with the economic benefits: he told The New York Times, "The prison was a purely economic decision on my part." Eventually, on August 12, 1985, the Riverfront State Prison opened its doors, despite the objections of residents.
The trash-to-steam incinerator was another proposed industry, also objected to by Camden residents. Once again, Primas "...was motivated by fiscal more than social concerns," and he faced heavy opposition from Concerned Citizens of North Camden (CCNC) and from Michael Doyle, who was so opposed to the plant that he appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes, saying "Camden has the biggest concentration of people in all the county, and yet there is where they're going to send in this sewage... ...everytime you flush, you send to Camden, to Camden, to Camden". Despite this opposition, which eventually culminated in protests, "the county proceeded to present the city of Camden with a check for $1 million in March 1989, in exchange for the eighteen acres of city-owned land where the new facility was to be built... ...The $112 million plant finally fired up for the first time in March 1991".
Despite the declines in industry and population, other changes to the city took place during this period:
Originally a city the industry of which focused mainly on manufacturing, in recent years Camden has shifted its focus to eds and meds (education and medicine) in an attempt to revitalize itself. Of the top employers in Camden, many are education and/or healthcare providers: Cooper University Hospital, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, Rowan University, Rutgers University-Camden, Camden County College, Virtua, Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, and CAMcare are all top employers. The eds and meds industry itself is the single largest source of jobs in the city: of the roughly 25,000 jobs in the city, 7,500 (30%) of them come from eds and meds institutions. The second largest source of jobs in Camden is the retail trade industry, which provides roughly 3,000 (12%) jobs. While already the largest employer in the city, the eds and meds industry in Camden is growing and is doing so despite falling population and total employment: From 2000 to 2014, population and total employment in Camden fell by 3% and 10% respectively, but eds and meds employment grew by 67%.
Despite previous failures to transform the Camden Waterfront, in September 2015 Liberty Property Trust and Mayor Dana L. Redd announced a $830 million plan to rehabilitate the waterfront. The project, which is the biggest private investment in the city's history, aims to redevelop 26 acres of land south of the Ben Franklin Bridge and includes plans for 1.5 million square feet of commercial space, 211 residences, a 130-room hotel, more than 4,000 parking spaces, a downtown shuttle bus, a new ferry stop, a riverfront park, and two new roads. The project is a modification of a previous $1 billion proposal by Liberty Property Trust, which would have redeveloped 37.2 acres and would have included 500,000 square feet of commercial space, 1,600 homes, and a 140-room hotel. On March 11, 2016, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority approved the modified plans and officials like Timothy J. Lizura of the NJEDA expressed their enthusiasm: "It's definitely a new day in Camden. For 20 years, we've tried to redevelop that city, and we finally have the traction between a very competent mayor's office, the county police force, all the educational reforms going on, and now the corporate interest. It really is the right ingredient for changing a paradigm which has been a wreck".
In 2013 the New Jersey Economic Development Authority created the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act, which provides incentives for companies to relocate to or remain in economically struggling locations in the state. These incentives largely come in the form of tax breaks, which are payable over 10 years and are equivalent to a project's cost. According to The New York Times, "...the program has stimulated investment of about $1 billion and created or retained 7,600 jobs in Camden". This NJEDA incentive package has been utilized by organizations and firms such as the Philadelphia 76ers, Subaru of America, Lockheed Martin, and Holtec International.
Several smaller-scale projects and transitions also took place during the 21st century:
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 10.341 square miles (26.784 km2), including 8.921 square miles (23.106 km2) of land and 1.420 square miles (3.677 km2) of water (13.73%).
Camden borders Collingswood, Gloucester City, Haddon Township, Pennsauken Township and Woodlynne in Camden County, as well as Philadelphia across the Delaware River in Pennsylvania. Just offshore of Camden is Pettys Island, which is part of Pennsauken Township. The Cooper River (popular for boating) flows through Camden, and Newton Creek forms Camden's southern boundary with Gloucester City.
Camden contains the United States' first federally funded planned community for working class residents, Yorkship Village (now called Fairview). The village was designed by Electus Darwin Litchfield, who was influenced by the "garden city" developments popular in England at the time.
Camden has more than 20 generally recognized neighborhoods:
On the Delaware River, with access to the Atlantic Ocean, the Port of Camden handles break bulk and bulk cargo. The port consists of two terminals: the Beckett Street Terminal and the Broadway Terminal. The port receives hundreds of ships moving international and domestic cargo annually.
In 2005, the Port of Camden (South Jersey Port Corporation) was subject to an unresolved criminal investigation and a state audit. Some activities in the port are under the jurisdiction of the Delaware River Port Authority.
Camden has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa in the Köppen climate classification).
As of 2006, 52% of the city's residents lived in poverty, one of the highest rates in the nation. The city had a median household income of $18,007, the lowest of all U.S. communities with populations of more than 65,000 residents, making it America's poorest city. A group of poor Camden residents were the subject of a 20/20 special on poverty in America broadcast on January 26, 2007, in which Diane Sawyer profiled the lives of three young children growing up in Camden. A follow-up was shown on November 9, 2007.
In 2011, Camden's unemployment rate was 19.6%, compared with 10.6% in Camden County as a whole. As of 2009, the unemployment rate in Camden was 19.2%, compared to the 10% overall unemployment rate for Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties and a rate of 8.4% in Philadelphia and the four surrounding counties in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 77,344 people, 24,475 households, and 16,912 families residing in the city. The population density was 8,669.6 per square mile (3,347.4/km2). There were 28,358 housing units at an average density of 3,178.7 per square mile (1,227.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 17.59% (13,602) White, 48.07% (37,180) Black or African American, 0.76% (588) Native American, 2.12% (1,637) Asian, 0.06% (48) Pacific Islander, 27.57% (21,323) from other races, and 3.83% (2,966) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 47.04% (36,379) of the population. The Hispanic population of 36,379 was the tenth-highest of any municipality in New Jersey and the proportion of 47.0% was the state's 16th-highest percentage. The Puerto Rican population was 30.7%.
There were 24,475 households out of which 37.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 22.3% were married couples living together, 37.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.9% were non-families. 24.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.02 and the average family size was 3.56.
In the city, the population was spread out with 31.0% under the age of 18, 13.1% from 18 to 24, 28.0% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 7.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28.5 years. For every 100 females there were 94.7 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 91.0 males.
The city of Camden was 47% Hispanic of any race, 44% non-Hispanic black, 6% non-Hispanic white, and 3% other. Camden is predominately populated by African Americans and Puerto Ricans.
The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $27,027 (with a margin of error of +/- $912) and the median family income was $29,118 (+/- $1,296). Males had a median income of $27,987 (+/- $1,840) versus $26,624 (+/- $1,155) for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,807 (+/- $429). About 33.5% of families and 36.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 50.3% of those under age 18 and 26.2% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 United States Census there were 79,904 people, 24,177 households, and 17,431 families residing in the city. The population density was 9,057.0 people per square mile (3,497.9/km²). There were 29,769 housing units at an average density of 3,374.3 units per square mile (1,303.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 16.84% White, 53.35% African American, 0.54% Native American, 2.45% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 22.83% from other races, and 3.92% from two or more races. 38.82% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 24,177 households out of which 42.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 26.1% were married couples living together, 37.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.9% were non-families. 22.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.52 and the average family size was 4.00.
In the city, the population is quite young with 34.6% under the age of 18, 12.0% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 16.3% from 45 to 64, and 7.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $23,421, and the median income for a family was $24,612. Males had a median income of $25,624 versus $21,411 for females. The per capita income for the city is $9,815. 35.5% of the population and 32.8% of families were below the poverty line. 45.5% of those under the age of 18 and 23.8% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
In the 2000 Census, 30.85% of Camden residents identified themselves as being of Puerto Rican heritage. This was the third-highest proportion of Puerto Ricans in a municipality on the United States mainland, behind only Holyoke, Massachusetts and Hartford, Connecticut, for all communities in which 1,000 or more people listed an ancestry group.
Camden's role as an industrial city gave rise to distinct neighborhoods and cultural groups that have affected the growth and decline of the city over the course of the 20th century. Camden is also home to historic landmarks detailing its rich history in literature, music, social work, and industry such as the Walt Whitman House, the Walt Whitman Cultural Arts Center, the Rutgers–Camden Center For The Arts and the Camden Children's Garden.
Camden's cultural history has been greatly affected by both its economic and social position over the years. From 1950 to 1970, industry plummeted, resulting in close to 20,000 jobs being lost for Camden residents. This mass unemployment as well as social pressure from neighboring townships caused an exodus of citizens, mostly white. This gap was filled by new African American and Latino citizens and led to a restructuring of Camden's communities. The number of White citizens who left to neighboring towns such as Collingswood or Cherry Hill left both new and old African American and Latino citizens to re-shape their community. To help in this process, numerous non-for-profit organizations such as Hopeworks or the Neighborhood Center were formed to facilitate Camden's movement into the 21st century.
Due to its location as county seat, as well as its proximity to Philadelphia, Camden has had strong connections with its neighboring cities.
On July 17, 1951, they formed the Delaware River Port Authority, a bi-state agency created to develop ease of transportation between the two cities.
In June 2014, the Philadelphia 76ers announced that they would move their practice facility and home offices to the Camden Waterfront, adding 250 permanent jobs in the city creating what CEO Scott O'Neil described as "biggest and best training facility in the country" using $82 million in tax savings offered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
The Battleship New Jersey, a museum ship located on the Delaware Waterfront, was a contested topic for the two cities. Philadelphia's DRPA funded millions of dollars into the museum ship project as well as the rest of the Waterfront, but the ship was originally donated to a Camden-based agency called the Home Port Alliance. They argue that Battleship New Jersey is necessary for Camden's economic growth. As of October 2001, the Home Port Alliance has maintained ownership of Battleship New Jersey.
In 1967, Charles 'Poppy' Sharp founded the Black Believers of Knowledge, an organization founded on the betterment of African American citizens in South Camden. He would soon rename his organization to the Black People's Unity Movement (BPUM). The BPUM was one of the first major cultural organizations to arise after the deindustrialization of Camden's industrial life. Going against the building turmoil in the city, Sharp founded BPUM on "the belief that all the people in our community should contribute to positive change".
In 2001, Camden residents and entrepreneurs founded the South Jersey Caribbean Cultural and Development Organization (SJCCDO) as a non-profit organization aimed at promoting understanding and awareness of Caribbean Culture in South Jersey and Camden. The most prominent of the events that the SJCCDO organizes is the South Jersey Caribbean Festival, an event that is held for both cultural and economical reasons. The festival's primary focus is cultural awareness of all of Camden's residents. The festival also showcases free art and music as well as financial information and free promotion for Camden artists.
In 1986, Tawanda 'Wawa' Jones began the Camden Sophisticated Sisters, a youth drill team. CSS serves as a self-proclaimed 'positive outlet' for the Camden' students, offering both dance lessons as well as community service hours and social work opportunities. Since its conception CSS has grown to include two other organizations, all ran through Jones: Camden Distinguished Brothers and The Almighty Percussion Sound drum line. In 2013, CSS was featured on ABC's Dancing with the Stars.
On December 31, 1987, the Latin American Economic Development Association (LAEDA). LAEDA is a non-profit economic development organization that helps with the creation of small business for minorities in Camden. LAEDA was founded under in an attempt to revitalize Camden's economy and provide job experience for its residents. LAEDA operates on a two major methods of rebuilding, The Entrepreneurial Development Training Program (EDTP) and the Neighborhood Commercial Expansion Initiative (NCEI). In 1990, LAEDA began a program called The Entrepreneurial Development Training Program (EDTP) which would offer residents employment and job opportunities through ownership of small businesses. The program over time created 506 businesses and 1,169 jobs. As of 2016, half of these businesses are still in operation. Neighborhood Commercial Expansion Initiative (NCEI) then finds locations for these business to operate in, purchasing and refurbishing abandoned real estate. As of 2016 four buildings have been refurbished including the First Camden National Bank & Trust Company Building.
One of the longest standing traditions in Camden's Hispanic community is the San Juan Bautista Parade, a celebration of St. John the Baptist, conducted annually starting in 1957. The parade began in 1957 when a group of parishioners from Our Lady of Mount Carmel marched with the church founder Father Leonardo Carrieri. This march was originally a way for the parishioners to recognize and show their Puerto Rican Heritage, and eventually became the modern day San Juan Bautista Parade. Since its conception, the parade has grown into the Parada San Juan Bautista, Inc, a non-for-profit organization dedicated to maintaining the community presence of Camden's Hispanic and Latino members. Some of the work that the Parada San Juan Bautista, Inc has done include a month long event for the parade with a community commemorative mass and a coronation pageant. The organization also awards up to $360,000 in scholarships to high school students of Puerto Rican descent.
On May 30, 2000, Camden resident and grassroots organizer Lillian Santiago began a movement to rebuild abandoned lots in her North Camden neighborhood into playgrounds. The movement was met with resistance from the Camden government, citing monetary issues. As Santiago's movement gained more notability in her neighborhoods she was able to move other community members into action, including Reverend Heywood Wiggins. Wiggins was the president of the Camden Churches Organized for People, a coalition of 29 churches devoted to the improvement of Camden's communities, and with his support Santiago's movement succeeded. Santiago and Wiggins were also firm believers in Community Policing, which would result in their fight against Camden's corrupt police department and the eventual turnover to the State government.
Camden has two generally recognized neighborhoods located on the Delaware River waterfront, Central and South. The Waterfront South was founded in 1851 by the Kaighns Point Land Company. During World War Two, Waterfront South housed many of the industrial workers for the New York Shipbuilding Company. Currently, the Waterfront is home to many historical buildings and cultural icons. The Waterfront South neighborhood is considered a federal and state historic area due to its history and culturally significant buildings, such as the Sacred Heart Church, and the South Camden Trust Company The Central Waterfront is located adjacent to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and is home to the Nipper Building (also known as The Victor), the Adventure Aquarium, and Battleship New Jersey, a museum ship located at the Home Port Alliance.
Starting on February 16, 2012, Camden's Waterfront began an art crawl and volunteer initiative called Third Thursday in an effort to support local Camden business and restaurants. Part of Camden's art crawl movement exists in Studio Eleven One, a fully restored 1906 firehouse opened in 2011 that operated as an art gallery owned by William and Ronja Butlers. The Butlers moved to Camden in 2011 from Des Moines, Iowa and began the Third Thursday art movement. William Butler and Studio Eleven One are a part of his wife's company Thomas Lift LLC, self described as a "socially conscious company" that works to connect Camden's art scene with philanthropic organizations. Some of the work they have done includes work against Human Trafficking, and ecological donations.
Starting in 2014, Camden began Connect The Lots, a community program designed to revitalize unused areas for community engagement,. Connect the Lots was founded through The Kresge Foundation, and the project "seeks to create temporary, high-quality, safe outdoor spaces that are consistently programed with local cultural and recreational activities" Other partnerships with the Connect the Lots foundation include the Cooper's Ferry Partnership, a private non-profit corporation dedicated to urban renewal. Connect the Lots' main work are their 'Pop up Parks' that they create around Camden. In 2014, Connect the lots created a pop up skate park for Camden youth with assistance from Camden residents as well as students. As of 2016, the Connect the Lots program free programs have expanded to include outdoor yoga and free concerts.
In October 2014, Camden finished construction of the Kroc Center, a Salvation Army funded community center located in the Cramer Hill neighborhood. The Kroc center's mission is to provide both social services to the people of Camden as well as community engagement opportunities. The center was funded by a $59 million donation from Joan Kroc, and from the Salvation Army. The project was launched in 2005 with a proposed completion date of one year. However, due to the location of the site as well as governmental concerns, the project was delayed. The Kroc center's location was an 85-acre former landfill which closed in 1971. Salvation Army Major Paul Cain states the landfill's location to the waterfront and the necessity to handle storm water management as main reasons for the delay. The Center was eventually opened on October 4, 2014, with almost citywide acclaim. Camden Mayor Dana Redd on the opening of the center called it "the crown jewel of the city". The Kroc Center offers an 8-lane, 25-yard competition pool, a children's water park, various athletic and entertainment options, as well as an in center chapel.
Camden has religious institutions including many churches and their non-profit organizations and community centers.
The first Scientology church was incorporated in December 1953 in Camden by L. Ron Hubbard, his wife Mary Sue Hubbard, and John Galusha.
Father Michael Doyle, the pastor of Sacred Heart Church located in South Camden, has played a large role in Camden's spiritual and social history. In 1971, Doyle was part of the Camden 28, a group of anti-Vietnam War activists who planned to raid a draft board office in the city. This is noted by many as the start of Doyle's activities as a radical 'catholic left'. Following these activities, Doyle went on to become a parishioner for Sacred Heart, as well as becoming a poet and an activist. Father Doyle and the Sacred Heart Church's main mission is to form a connection between the primarily white suburban surrounding areas and the inner-city of Camden.
In 1982, Father Mark Aita of Holy Name of Camden founded the St. Luke's Catholic Medical Services. Aita, a medical doctor and a member of the Society of Jesus, created the first medical system in Camden that did not use rotating primary care physicians. Since its conception, St. Luke's has grown to include Patient Education Classes as well as home medical services, aiding over seven thousand Camden residents.
Camden has a variety of Non-Profit Tax-Exempt Organizations aimed to assist city residents with a wide range of health and social services free or reduced charge to residents. Camden City, having one of the highest rates of poverty in New Jersey, fueled residents and local organizations to come together and develop organizations aimed to provide relief to its citizens. The 2000 Census cites that Camden's income per capita was $9,815. This ranking made Camden the poorest city in the state of New Jersey, as well as one of the poorest cities in all of the United States. Camden also has one of the highest rates of childhood poverty in the nation.
Camden was once a thriving industrialized city home to the RCA Victor, Campbell Soup Company and containing one of the largest shipping companies. Camden's decline stemmed from the lack in jobs once these companies moved over seas. Many of Camden's Non-Profit Organizations emerged during the 1900s when the city suffered a large decline in jobs which affected the city's growth and population. These organizations are located in all Camden sub-sections and offer free services to all city residents in an attempt to combat poverty and aid low income families. The services offered range from preventative health care, homeless shelters, early childhood education, to home ownership and restoration services. Nonprofits in Camden strive to assist Camden residents in need of all ages, from children to the elderly. Each nonprofit organization in Camden has an impact on the community with specific goals and services. These organizations survive through donations, partnerships, and fundraising. Volunteers are needed at many of these organizations to assist with various programs and duties. Camden's nonprofits also focus on development, prevention, and revitalization of the community. Nonprofit organizations serve as resource for the homeless, unemployed, or financially insufficient.
One of Camden's most prominent and longest running organizations with a span of 103 years of service, is The Neighborhood Center located in the Morgan Village section of Camden. The Neighborhood Center was founded in 1913 by Eldridge Johnson, George Fox Sr., Mary Baird, and local families in the community geared to provide a safe environment for the city's children. The goal of Camden's Neighborhood Center is to promote and enable academic, athletic and arts achievements. The Neighborhood Center was created to assist the numerous families living in Camden in poverty. The Neighborhood Center also has an Urban Community Garden as of the year 2015. Many of the services and activities offered for the children are after school programs, and programs for teenagers are also available. These teenage youth programs aim to guide students toward success during and after their high school years. The activities at the Neighborhood Center are meant to challenge youth in a safe environment for fun and learning. These activities are developed with the aim of The Neighborhood Center helping to break the cycle of poverty that is common in the city of Camden.
Center for Family Services Inc Offers a number of services and programs that total 76 free individual programs. This organization has operated in South Jersey for over 90 years and is one of the leading Non Profits in the city. Cure4Camden is a community ran program focused on stopping the spread of violence in Camden and surrounding communities. They focus on stopping the spread of violence in the Camden City communities of:
Center for Family Services offers additional programs such as : Active parenting and Baby Best Start program, Mental Health & Crisis Intervention, and Rehabilitative Care. They are located at 584 Benson St Camden NJ 801 Center for Family Services is a nonprofit organization helping adults, children, and families. Center for Family Services' main focus is "prevention". Center for Family Services has over 50 programs, aimed at the most "vulnerable" members of the community. These programs are made possible by donors, a board of trustees, and a professional staff. Their work helps prevent possible victims of abuse, neglect, or severe family problems. Their work helps thousands of individuals in the community and also provides intervention services to individuals and families. Their programs for children are home-based, community-based, as well as school-based. Center for Family Services is funded through partners, donors, and funders from the community and elsewhere.
Cathedral Soup Kitchen, Inc. A Human Service-based Non-Profit Organization that is the largest emergency food distribution agency in Camden N.J. The organization was founded in 1976 by four Camden residents after attending a lecture given by Mother Theresa. They ran off of donated food and funds for fourteen years until they were granted tax exempt status as a 501(c) (3) corporation in 1990. In the 1980s, a new program started at The Cathedral Kitchen called the "casserole program", which consisted of volunteers cooking and freezing casseroles to be donated and dropped off at the Cathedral Kitchen, and then be served to guests. Cathedral Kitchen faced many skeptics at first, despite the problems they were attempting to solve in the community, such as hunger. The Cathedral Kitchen's first cooking staff consisted of Clyde and Theresa Jones. Next, Sister Jean Spena joined the crew and the three members ran cooking operations over the course of several years. They provide 100,000 meals a year and launched a Culinary Arts Catering program in 2009. They provide hot meals Monday through Saturday to Camden County residents. The Cathedral Kitchen's annual revenue is $3,041,979.00.
A fundraising component of the Cathedral Kitchen is CK Cafe. CK Cafe is a small lunch restaurant used by the Cathedral Kitchen to provide employment to those who graduate from their programs as well as generate profits to continue to provide food to the hungry. CK Cafe is open Monday through Friday from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. You can even place an order for takeout by calling their telephone number. CK Cafe even offers catering and event packages. The Cathedral Kitchen is innovative and unique compared to other soup kitchens, because those who eat at The Cathedral Kitchen are referred to as "dinner guests" rather than the homeless, the hungry, etc. The Cathedral Kitchen also offers various opportunities for those interested to volunteer. Another feature of The Cathedral Kitchen is their free health clinics with a variety of services offered including dental care and other social services.
Catholic Charities of Camden, Inc. is a Faith-based organization which advocates and uplifts the lives of the poor and unemployed. They provide services in six New Jersey counties and serve over 28,000 people each year. The extent of the services offered exceed those of any of Camden's other Non- Profit Organizations. Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement program is one of the only Non-Profit that offers resettlement services in the area. They currently provide relief to over 100 refugees each year, from various countries. Some of the services Catholic Charities offer include; Adoption services, Immigration Legal Assistance, Veteran Services, Substance Abuse Assistance, Disaster Response, Housing Assistance, Domestic Violence Counseling, Community & Neighborhood Development, Economic Development, Education, Homeless & Housing, Housing Support, Preschools, Urban & Community and Economic Development.
Camden Churches Organized for People (CCOP) is an arrangement between various congregations of Camden to partner together against issues in the community. CCOP is affiliated with Pacific Institute for Community Organization (PICO). CCOP is a non-religious, non-profit organization that works with believers in the Camden to solve social issues in the community. Their beliefs and morals are the foundation for their efforts to solve a multitude of issues in the Camden community. CCOP's system for community organizing was modeled after PICO, which stresses the importance of social change instead of social services when addressing the causes of residents and their families' problems. CCOP's initial efforts began in 1995, and was composed only of two directors and about 60 leaders from the 18 churches in the organization.
The congregation leaders of CCOP all had a considerable amount of networking contacts but were also looking to expand and share their networking relationship with others. CCOP congregation leaders also had to listen to the concerns of those in their networking contacts, the community, and the congregations. One of the main services of CCOP was conducting one-on-one's with individuals in the community, to recognize patterns' of residents' issues in the community. An example of this was CCOP's realization of drug dealings taking place in the city's vacant houses. These drug dealings were also often violent and dangerous. CCOP conducted more than 200 one-on-ones with citizens in the city of Camden. As a result of their findings, CCOP met with institutions who were knowledgeable with regards to crime or housing from both the public and private sectors. It is approximated that about 20 of these meetings were held, with various attendees including the Camden police, local housing authority, and elected officials.
Cooper Grant Neighborhood Association is located in the historic Cooper Grant neighborhood that once housed William Cooper an English Quaker with long ties to Camden. His son Richard Cooper along with his four children are responsible for contributing to the creation of the Cooper Health System. This organizations goal is to enrich the lives of citizens living in the Cooper Grant neighborhood located from the Camden Waterfront up to Rutgers University Camden campus. This center offers community service to the citizens living in the historic area that include activism, improving community health and involvement, safety and security, housing development, affordable childcare services, and connecting neighborhoods and communities together. The Cooper Grant Neighborhood Association owns the Cooper Grant Community Garden. Project H.O.P.E rganization offers healthcare to the homeless, preventative health Care, substance abuse programs, social work services, behavioral health care. Their address is 519-525 West Street Camden, NJ 80103. Project H.O.P.E staff consists of administrative, security, and clinical teams. Donations accepted by Project H.O.P.E. are used to support their medical facility. Project H.O.P.E. also offers mobile vans for various health services at specific sites. Another feature of Project H.O.P.E. is the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH). PCMH offers a wide variety of unique services ranging from personalized care packages and bilingual services for patients.
The Heart of Camden Organization offers home renovation and restoration services and home ownership programs. Heart of Camden receives donations from online shoppers through Amazon Smile. Heart of Camden Organization is partners with District Council Collaborative Board (DCCB). Heart of Camden Organization's accomplishments include the economic development of various entities such as the Waterfront South Theatre, Neighborhood Greenhouse, and a community center with a gymnasium. Another accomplishment of Heart of Camden Organization is its revitalization of Camden, which includes Liney's Park Community Gardens and Peace Park.
Fellowship House of South Camden is an organization that offers Christian (Nondenominational) based after school and summer programs. Fellowship House was founded in 1965 and started as a weekly Bible club program for students in the inner-city of Camden. Settlement was made on a house located at Fellowship House's current location in the year 1969. Fellowship House hired its first actual staff member, director Dick Wright, in the year 1973.
VolunteersofAmerica.org helps families facing poverty and is a community based organization geared toward helping families live self-sufficient, healthy lives. With a 120 years of service the Volunteers of America has dedicated their services to all Americans in need of help. Home for the Brave is a housing program aimed to assist homeless veterans. This program is a 30-bed housing program that coincides with the Homeless Veterans Reintegration program which is funded through the Department of Labor. Additional services include; Emergency Support, Community Support, Employment Services, Housing Services, Veterans Services, Behavioral Services, Senior Housing.
The Center for Aquatic Sciences was founded in 1989 and continues to promote its mission of: "education and youth development through promoting the understanding, appreciation and protection of aquatic life and habitats." In performing this mission, the Center strives to be a responsible member of the community, assisting in its economic and social redevelopment by providing opportunities for education, enrichment and employment. Education programs include programs for school groups in our on-site classrooms and aquarium auditorium as well as outreach programs throughout the Delaware Valley. The Center also partners with schools in both Camden and Philadelphia to embed programs during the school day and to facilitate quality educational after-school experiences.
Research and conservation work includes an international program, where the Center has studied and sought to protect the threatened Banggai cardinalfish and its coral reef habitat in Indonesia. This work has resulted in the Banggai cardinalfish being included as an endangered species on IUCN Red List of Threatened and Endangered Species, the FIRST saltwater aquarium fish to be listed as endangered in the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), the publication of The Banggai Cardinalfish: Natural History, Conservation, and Culture of Pterapogon kauderni, and numerous peer review journal articles.
The Center's flagship program is CAUSE (Community and Urban Science Enrichment). CAUSE is a many-faceted science enrichment program for children and youth. The program, initiated in 1993, has been extremely successful, boasting a 100% high school graduation rate and a 98% college enrollment rate, and has gained local and regional attention as a model for comprehensive, inner-city youth development programs, focusing on intense academics and mentoring for a manageable number of youth.
About 45% of employment in Camden is in the "eds and meds" sector, providing educational and medical institutions.
Portions of Camden are part of an Urban Enterprise Zone. In addition to other benefits to encourage employment within the Zone, shoppers can take advantage of a reduced 3½% sales tax rate (versus the 7% rate charged statewide) at eligible merchants.
Campbell Soup Company has decided to go forward with a scaled down redevelopment of the area around its corporate headquarters in Camden, including an expanded corporate headquarters. In June 2012, Campbell Soup Company acquired the 4-acre (1.6 ha) site of the vacant Sears building located near its corporate offices, where the company plans to construct the Gateway Office Park, and razed the Sears building after receiving approval from the city government and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
In 2013, Cherokee Investment Partners had a plan to redevelop north Camden with 5,000 new homes and a shopping center on 450 acres (1.8 km2). Cherokee dropped their plans in the face of local opposition and the slumping real estate market.
In 2014, Lockheed Martin, Holt Logistics, Subaru of America, WebiMax, Holtec International and the Philadelphia 76ers announced plans to open facilities in the city. They are among several companies receiving New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) tax incentives to relocate jobs in the city.
Camden has historically been a stronghold of the Democratic Party. Voter turnout is very low; approximately 19% of Camden's voting age population participated in the 2005 gubernatorial election.
Since July 1, 1961, the city has operated within the Faulkner Act, formally known as the Optional Municipal Charter Law, under a Mayor-Council form of government. Under this form of government, the City Council consisted of seven Council members originally all elected at-large. In 1994, the City divided the city into four council districts, instead of electing the entire Council at-large, with a single council member elected from each of the four districts. In 1995, the elections were changed from a partisan vote to a non-partisan system.
As of 2018, the Mayor of Camden is Democrat Francisco "Frank" Moran, whose term of office ends December 31, 2021. Members of the City Council are Council President Curtis Jenkins (D, 2017; at large), Vice President Luis A. Lopez (D, 2019; Ward 4), Dana M. Burley (D, 2019; Ward 1), Brian K. Coleman (D, 2019; Ward 2), Sheila Davis (D, 2021; at large), Angel Fuentes (D, 2021; at large), with the Ward 3 seat held by Francisco "Frank" Moran vacant after he took office as mayor.
In February 2016, the City Council unanimously appointed Angel Fuentes to fill the at-large term ending in December 2017 that was vacated by Arthur Barclay when he took office in the New Jersey General Assembly in January 2016; Fuentes had served for 16 years on the city council before serving in the Assembly from 2010 to 2015. Fuentes was elected to another four-year term in November 2017.
Mayor Milton Milan was jailed for his connections to organized crime. On June 15, 2001, he was sentenced to serve seven years in prison on 14 counts of corruption, including accepting mob payoffs and concealing a $65,000 loan from a drug kingpin.
Camden is located in the 1st Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 5th state legislative district.
New Jersey's First Congressional District is represented by Donald Norcross (D, Camden). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Democrats Cory Booker (Newark, term ends 2021) and Bob Menendez (Paramus, 2019).
For the 2018–2019 session (Senate, General Assembly), the 5th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D, Barrington) and in the General Assembly by Patricia Egan Jones (D, Barrington) and William Spearman (D, Camden). Spearman took office in June 2018 followingh the resignation of Arthur Barclay. The Governor of New Jersey is Phil Murphy (D, Middletown Township). The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Sheila Oliver (D, East Orange).
Camden County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders, whose seven members chosen at-large in partisan elections to three-year terms office on a staggered basis, with either two or three seats coming up for election each year. As of 2018, Camden County's Freeholders are Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. (D, Collingswood, term as freeholder ends December 31, 2020; term as director ends 2018), Freeholder Deputy Director Edward T. McDonnell (D, Pennsauken Township, term as freeholder ends 2019; term as deputy director ends 2018), Susan Shin Angulo (D, Cherry Hill, 2018), William F. Moen Jr. (D, Camden, 2018), Jeffrey L. Nash (D, Cherry Hill, 2018), Carmen Rodriguez (D, Merchantville, 2019) and Jonathan L. Young Sr. (D, Berlin Township, 2020).
Camden County's constitutional officers, all elected directly by voters, are County clerk Joseph Ripa (Voorhees Township, 2019), Sheriff Gilbert "Whip" Wilson (Camden, 2018) and Surrogate Michelle Gentek-Mayer (Gloucester Township, 2020). The Camden County Prosecutor is Mary Eva Colalillo.
Three Camden mayors have been jailed for corruption: Angelo Errichetti, Arnold Webster, and Milton Milan.
In 1981, Errichetti was convicted with three other individuals for accepting a $50,000 bribe from FBI undercover agents in exchange for helping a non-existent Arab sheikh enter the United States. The FBI scheme was part of the Abscam operation. The 2013 film American Hustle is a fictionalized portrayal of this scheme.
In 1999, Webster, who was previously the superintendent of Camden City Public Schools, pleaded guilty to illegally paying himself $20,000 in school district funds after he became mayor.
In 2000, Milan was sentenced to more than six years in federal prison for accepting payoffs from associates of Philadelphia organized crime boss Ralph Natale, soliciting bribes and free home renovations from city vendors, skimming money from a political action committee, and laundering drug money.
The Courier-Post dubbed former State Senator Wayne R. Bryant, who represented the state's 5th Legislative District from 1995 to 2008, the "king of double dipping" for accepting no-show jobs in return for political benefits. In 2009, Bryant was sentenced to four years in federal prison for funneling $10.5 million to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in exchange for a no-show job and accepting fraudulent jobs to inflate his state pension and was assessed a fine of $25,000 and restitution to UMDNJ in excess of $110,000. In 2010, Bryant was charged with an additional 22 criminal counts of bribery and fraud, for taking $192,000 in false legal fees in exchange for backing redevelopment projects in Camden, Pennsauken Township and the New Jersey Meadowlands between 2004 and 2006.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 43,893 registered voters in Camden, of which 17,403 (39.6%) were registered as Democrats, 885 (2.0%) were registered as Republicans and 25,601 (58.3%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 4 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 96.8% of the vote (22,254 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 3.0% (683 votes), and other candidates with 0.2% (57 votes), among the 23,230 ballots cast by the city's 47,624 registered voters (236 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 48.8%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 91.1% of the vote (22,197 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain, who received around 5.0% (1,213 votes), with 24,374 ballots cast among the city's 46,654 registered voters, for a turnout of 52.2%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 84.4% of the vote (15,914 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush, who received around 12.6% (2,368 votes), with 18,858 ballots cast among the city's 37,765 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 49.9.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Barbara Buono received 79.9% of the vote (6,680 cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 18.8% (1,569 votes), and other candidates with 1.4% (116 votes), among the 9,796 ballots cast by the city's 48,241 registered voters (1,431 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 20.3%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 85.6% of the vote (8,700 ballots cast), ahead of both Republican Chris Christie with 5.9% (604 votes) and Independent Chris Daggett with 0.8% (81 votes), with 10,166 ballots cast among the city's 43,165 registered voters, yielding a 23.6% turnout.
As of May 2010, the city had a total of 181.92 miles (292.77 km) of roadways, of which 147.54 miles (237.44 km) were maintained by the municipality, 25.39 miles (40.86 km) by Camden County, 6.60 miles (10.62 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and 2.39 miles (3.85 km) by the Delaware River Port Authority.
Interstate 676 and U.S. Route 30 run through Camden to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge on the north side of the city. Interstate 76 passes through briefly and interchanges with Interstate 676.
Route 168 passes through briefly in the south, and County Routes 537, 543, 551 and 561 all travel through the heart of the city.
NJ Transit's Walter Rand Transportation Center is located at Martin Luther King Boulevard and Broadway. In addition to being a hub for NJ Transit (NJT) buses in the Southern Division, Greyhound Lines, the PATCO Speedline and River Line make stops at the station.
The PATCO Speedline offers frequent train service to Philadelphia and the suburbs to the east in Camden County, with stations at City Hall, Broadway (Walter Rand Transportation Center) and Ferry Avenue. The line operates 24 hours a day.
Since its opening in 2004, NJ Transit's River Line has offered light rail service to towns along the Delaware north of Camden, and terminates in Trenton. Camden stations are 36th Street, Walter Rand Transportation Center, Cooper Street-Rutgers University, Aquarium and Entertainment Center.
NJ Transit bus service is available to and from Philadelphia on the 313, 315, 317, 318 and 400, 401, 402, 404, 406, 408, 409, 410, 412, 414, and 417, to Atlantic City is served by the 551 bus. Local service is offered on the 403, 405, 407, 413, 418, 419, 450, 451, 452, 453, and 457 lines.
Studies are being conducted to create the Camden-Philadelphia BRT, a bus rapid transit system, with a 2012 plan to develop routes that would cover the 23 miles (37 km) between Winslow Township and Philadelphia with a stop at the Walter Rand Transportation Center.
RiverLink Ferry is seasonal service across the Delaware River to Penn's Landing in Philadelphia.
Situated on the Delaware River waterfront, the city of Camden contains many pollution-causing facilities, such as a trash incinerator and a sewage plant. Despite the additions of new waste-water and trash treatment facilities in the 1970s and 1980s, pollution in the city remains an issue due to faulty waste disposal practices and outdated sewer systems. The open-air nature of the waste treatment plants cause the smell of sewage and other toxic fumes to permeate through the air. This has encouraged local grass roots organizations to protest the development of these plants in Camden. The development of traffic-heavy highway systems between Philadelphia and South Jersey also contributed to the rise of air pollution in the area. Water contamination has been an issue in Camden for decades. In the 1970s, dangerous pollutants were found near the Delaware River at the Puchack Well Field, where many Camden citizens received their household water from, decreasing property values in Camden and causing health problems among the city's residents. Materials contaminating the water included cancer-causing metals and chemicals, affecting as many as 50,000 people between the early 1970s and late 1990s, when the six Puchack wells were officially shut down and declared a Superfund site. Camden also contains 22 of New Jersey's 217 combined sewer overflow outfalls, or CSOs, down from 28 in 2013.
The Camden City Municipal Utilities Authority, or CCMUA, was established in the early 1970s in order to treat sewage waste in Camden County, by City Democratic chairman and director of public works Angelo Errichetti, who became the authority's executive director. Errichetti called for a primarily state or federally funded sewage plant, which would have cost $14 million, and a region-wide collection of trash-waste. The sewage plant was a necessity in order to meet the requirements of the Federal Clean Water Act, as per the changes implemented to the act in 1972. James Joyce, chair of the county's Democratic Party at the time, had his own ambitions in regard to establishing a sewage authority that clashed with Errichetti's. While Errichetti formed his sewage authority through his own power, Joyce required the influence of the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders in order to form his. Errichetti and Joyce competed against each other to gain the cooperation of Camden's suburban communities, with Errichetti ultimately succeeding. Errichetti's political alliance with the county freeholders of Cherry Hill gave him an advantage and Joyce was forced to disband his County Sewerage Authority.
Errichetti later replaced Joyce as county Democratic chairman, after the latter resigned due to bribery charges, and retained control of the CCMUA even after leaving his position as executive director in 1973 in order to run for mayor of Camden. The CCMUA originally planned for the sewage facilities in Camden to treat waste water through a primary and secondary process before having it deposited into the Delaware River; however, funding stagnated and byproducts from the plant began to accumulate, causing adverse environmental effects in Camden. Concerned about the harmful chemicals that were being emitted from the waste build-up, the CCMUA requested permission to dump five million gallons of waste into the Atlantic Ocean. Their request was denied and the CCMUA began searching for alternative ways to dispose of the sludge, which eventually lead to the construction of an incinerator, as it was more cost effective than previously proposed methods. In 1975, the CCMUA purchased Camden's two sewage treatment plants for $11.3 million, the first payment consisting of $2.5 million and the final payment to be made by the end of 1978.
Camden's Waterfront South neighborhood, located in the southern part of the city between the Delaware River and Interstate 676, is home to two dangerously contaminated areas, Welsbach/General Gas Mantle and Martin Aaron, Inc., the former of which has been emanating low-levels of radiation since the early 20th century. Several industrial pollution sites, including the Camden County Sewage Plant, the County Municipal Waste Combustor, the world's largest licorice processing plant, chemical companies, auto shops, and a cement manufacturing facility, are present in the Waterfront South neighborhood, which covers less than one square mile. The neighborhood contains 20% of Camden's contaminated areas and over twice the average number of pollution-emitting facilities per New Jersey ZIP Code.
According to the Rutgers University Journal of Law and Urban Policy, African-American residents of Waterfront South have a greater chance of developing cancer than anywhere else in the state of Pennsylvania, 90% higher for females and 70% higher for males. 61% of Waterfront South residents have reported respiratory issues, with 48% of residents experiencing chronic chest tightness. Residents of Waterfront South formed the South Camden Citizens in Action, or SCCA, in 1997 in order to combat the environmental and health issues imposed from the rising amount of pollution and the trash-to-steam facilities being implemented by the CCMUA. One such facility, the Covanta Camden Energy Recovery Center (formerly the Camden Resource Recovery Facility), is located on Morgan Street in the Waterfront South neighborhood and burns 350,000 tons of waste from every town in Camden County, aside from Gloucester Township. The waste is then converted into electricity and sold to utility companies that power thousands of homes.
Identified by the EPA in 1980, the Welsbach/General Gas Mantle site contained soil and building materials contaminated with radioactive materials. Radiation became prominent when the companies used thorium, a radioactive material withdrawn from monazite ore, in the production of their gas mantles. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Welsbach Company was located in Gloucester City, which borders Camden, and was a major producer of gas mantles until gas lights were replaced by electric lights. The fabric of the Welsbach gas mantle was put into a solution that consisted of 99% thorium nitrate and 1% cerium nitrate in distilled water, causing it to emit a white light. Operating from 1915 to 1940 in Camden, General Gas Mantle, or GGM, was a manufacturer of gas mantles and served as a competitor for Welsbach. Unlike Welsbach, General Gas Mantle used only a refined, commercial thorium solution in order to produce its gas mantles. Welsbach and General Gas Mantle went out of business in the 1940s and had no successors.
In 1981, the EPA began investigating the area where the companies once operated for radioactive materials. Five areas were identified as having abnormally high levels of gamma radiation, including the locations of both companies and three primarily residential areas. In 1993, a sixth area was identified. Radioactive materials were identified at 100 properties located near the companies' former facilities in Camden and Gloucester City, as well as the company locations themselves. In 1996, due to the levels of contamination in the areas, the Welsbach and General Gas Mantle site was added to the National Priorities List, which consists of areas in the United States that are or could become contaminated with dangerous substances. The EPA demolished the General Gas Mantle building in late 2000 and only one building remains at the former Welsbach site. Since it was declared a Superfund site, the EPA has removed over 350,000 tons of contaminated materials from the Welsbach/General Gas Mantle site.
The Martin Aaron, Inc. site operated as a steel drum recycling facility for thirty years, from 1968 to 1998, though industrial companies have made use of the site since the late 19th century, contaminating soil and groundwater in the surrounding area. The drums at the facility, containing residue of hazardous chemicals, were not correctly handled or disposed of, releasing substances such as arsenic and polychlorinated biphenyl into the groundwater and soil. Waste such as abandoned equipment and empty steel drums was removed from the site by the EPA and NJDEP, the latter of which initially tested the site for contamination in 1987. Like the Welsbach/General Gas Mantle site, the Martin Aaron, Inc. site was placed on the National Priorities list in 1999.
Residents of Camden have expressed discontent with the implementation of pollution-causing facilities in their city. Father Michael Doyle, a pastor at Waterfront South's Sacred Heart Church, blamed the city's growing pollution and sewage problem as the reason why residents were leaving Camden for the surrounding suburbs. Local groups protested through petitions, referendums, and other methods, such as Citizens Against Trash to Steam (CATS), established by Linda McHugh and Suzanne Marks. In 1999, the St. Lawrence Cement Company reached an agreement with the South Jersey Port Corporation and leased land in order to establish a plant in the Waterfront South neighborhood of Camden, motivated to operate on state land by a reduction in local taxes.
St. Lawrence received a backlash from both the residents of Camden and Camden's legal system, including a lawsuit that accused the DEP and St. Lawrence of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964, due to the overwhelming majority of minorities living in waterfront South and the already poor environmental situation in the neighborhood. The cement grinding facility, open year-round, processed approximately 850,000 tons of slag, a substance often used in the manufacturing of cement, and emitted harmful pollutants, such as dust particles, carbon monoxide, radioactive materials, and lead among others. Also, due to the diesel-fueled trucks being used to transport the slag, a total of 77,000 trips, an additional 100 tons of pollutants were produced annually.
In 2001, the SCCA filed a civil rights lawsuit against the NJDEP and the St. Lawrence Cement Company. Unlike other environmental justice cases, the lawsuit itself did not include specific accusations in regard to the environment, instead focusing on racial discrimination. The SCCA accused the NJDEP of discrimination after they issued air quality permits to St. Lawrence, which would have allowed the company to run a facility that violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI's role is to prevent agencies that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of race or nationality. A predominantly minority neighborhood, Waterfront South, where the cement manufacturing company would operate out of, was already home to over 20% of Camden's dangerously contaminated sites.
In April 2001, the court, lead by Judge Stephen Orlofsky, ruled in favor of the SCCA, stating that the NJDEP was in violation of Title VI, as they had not completed a full analysis of the area in order to judge how the environmental impact from the cement facility would effect the residents of Camden. This decision was challenged five days later with the ruling of US Supreme Court case Alexander v. Sandoval, which stated that only the federal agency in question could enforce rules and regulations, not citizens themselves. Orlofsky held his initial decision on the case and enacted another ruling that would allow citizens to make use of Section 1983, a civil rights statute which gave support to those whose rights had been infringed upon by the state, in regard to Title VI.
The NJDEP and St. Lawrence went on to appeal both of Orlofsky's rulings and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently reversed Orlofsky's second decision. The appeals court ruled that Section 1983 could not be used in order to enforce a ruling regarding Title VI and that private action could not be taken by the citizens. The final ruling in the case was that, while the NJDEP and St. Lawrence did violate Title VI, the decision could not be enforced through Section 1983. The lawsuit delayed the opening of the St. Lawrence cement facility by two months, costing the company millions of dollars. In the years following the court case, members of the SCCA were able to raise awareness concerning environmental justice at higher levels than before; they were portrayed in a positive light by news coverage in major platforms such as The New York Times, Business Week, The National Law Journal, and The Philadelphia Inquirer, and garnered support from long-time civil rights activists and the NAACP. The SCCA has engaged in several national events since the conclusion of South Camden, such as a press conference at the U.S. Senate, the Second National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights environmental justice hearings, all of which dealt with the advocacy of environmental justice.
Officially organized in 1869, the Camden Fire Department (CFD) is the oldest paid fire department in New Jersey and is among the oldest paid fire departments in the United States. In 1916, the CFD was the first in the United States that had an all-motorized fire apparatus fleet. Layoffs have forced the city to rely on assistance from volunteer fire companies in surrounding communities when firefighters from all 10 fire companies are unavailable due to calls.
The Camden Fire Department currently operates out of six fire stations, located throughout the city in two Battalions, commanded by two Battalion Chiefs per shift, in addition to an on-duty Deputy Chief. The CFD fire apparatus fleet consists of five Engine Companies, three Ladder Companies, one Squad Company(Rescue-Pumper), one Rescue Company, and several other special, support, and reserve units. Since 2010, the Camden Fire Department has suffered severe economic cutbacks, including company closures and staffing cuts.
Below is a list of all fire stations and company locations in the city of Camden according to Battalion.
One of the most popular attractions in Camden is the city's waterfront, along the Delaware River. The waterfront is highlighted by its four main attractions, the USS New Jersey; the BB&T Pavilion; Campbell's Field; and the Adventure Aquarium. The waterfront is also the headquarters for Catapult Learning, a provider of K−12 contracted instructional services to public and private schools in the United States, and WebiMax, a full-service internet marketing company.
The Adventure Aquarium was originally opened in 1992 as the New Jersey State Aquarium at Camden. In 2005, after extensive renovation, the aquarium was reopened under the name Adventure Aquarium. The aquarium was one of the original centerpieces in Camden's plans to revitalize the city.
The Susquehanna Bank Center (formerly known as the Tweeter Center) is a 25,000-seat open-air concert amphitheater opened in 1995 and renamed after a 2008 deal in which the bank would pay $10 million over 15 years for naming rights.
Campbell's Field, opened in 2001, was home to the Camden Riversharks (which folded in 2015) of the independent Atlantic League; and the Rutgers–Camden baseball team.
The USS New Jersey (BB-62) was a U.S. Navy battleship that was intermittently active between the years 1943 and 1991. After its retirement, the ship was turned into the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial, opened in 2001 along the waterfront. The New Jersey saw action during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and provided support off Lebanon in early 1983.
Other attractions at the Waterfront are the Wiggins Park Riverstage and Marina, One Port Center, The Victor Lofts, the Walt Whitman House, the Walt Whitman Cultural Arts Center, the Rutgers–Camden Center For The Arts and the Camden Children's Garden.
In June 2014, the Philadelphia 76ers announced that they would move their practice facility and home offices to the Camden Waterfront, adding 250 permanent jobs in the city creating what CEO Scott O'Neil described as "biggest and best training facility in the country" using $82 million in tax savings offered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
The Waterfront is also served by two modes of public transportation. NJ Transit serves the Waterfront on its River Line, while people from Philadelphia can commute using the RiverLink Ferry, which connects the Waterfront with Old City Philadelphia.
Riverfront State Prison, was a state penitentiary located near downtown Camden north of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which opened in August 1985 having been constructed at a cost of $31 million. The prison had a design capacity of 631 inmates, but housed 1,020 in 2007 and 1,017 in 2008. The last prisoners were transferred in June 2009 to other locations and the prison was closed and subsequently demolished, with the site expected to be redeveloped by the State of New Jersey, the City of Camden, and private investors. In December 2012, the New Jersey Legislature approved the sale of the 16-acre (6.5 ha) site, considered surplus property to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
Camden's public schools are operated by Camden City School District district. As of the 2014-15 school year, the district and its 26 schools had an enrollment of 14,157 students and 982.3 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 14.4:1. The district is one of 31 former Abbott districts statewide, which are now referred to as "SDA Districts" based on the requirement for the state to cover all costs for school building and renovation projects in these districts under the supervision of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.
High schools in the district (with 2014-15 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are:
An important transition to education in Camden occurred March 25, 2013, at Woodrow Wilson High School, when Governor Chris Christie announced that the state of New Jersey would be taking over administration of the public schools in the city of Camden. The Department of Education had done an investigation that found in 2012, graduation rates fell to 49.27%, down from 56.89% the year before. From 2011 to 2012, only 2% of Camden students scored above a 1550 out of a possible 2400 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), compared with 43% students nationally. Only 19% and 30.4% of third-through eight-grade students tested proficient in language arts and in math, respectively, which were far below the state average.
Christie claimed, " I can't be a guarantor of results, none of us can, but just because we can't guarantee a positive result or because there have been some mixed results in the past, should not be used as in excuse for inaction".
On February 5, 2015, superintendent Paymon Rhouhanifard announced that the 105-year-old J.G Whittier Family School will permanently be closed at the end of 2015.
Under the renaissance charter school proposal, the Henry L. Bonsall Family School is becoming Uncommon Schools Camden Prep Mt. Ephraim Campus, East Camden Middle School will become part of Mastery Charter Schools, Francis X. Mc Graw Elementary School and Rafael Cordero Molina Elementary School is going to become part of the Mastery charter network. The J.G Whittier Family school will become part of the KIPP Public Charter Schools as KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy. Students were given the option to stay with the school under their transition or seek other alternatives.
On March 9, 2015, the first year of new Camden Charter Schools the enrollment raised concern. Mastery and Uncommon charter schools failed to meet enrollment projections for their first year of operation by 15% and 21%, according to Education Law Center. Also, the KIPP and Uncommon Charter Schools had enrolled students with disabilities and English Language learners at a level far below the enrollment of these students in the Camden district. The enrollment data on the Mastery, Uncommon and KIPP charter chains comes form the state operated Camden district and raised questions whether or not the data is viable, especially since it had said that Camden parents prefer charters over neighborhood public schools. In addition, there was a concern that these charter schools are not serving students with special needs at comparable level to district enrollment, developing the idea of growing student segregation and isolation in Camden schools as these chains expand in the coming years.
In October 2016, Governor Chris Christie, Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd, Camden Public Schools Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard, and state and local representatives announced a historical $133 million investment of a new Camden High School Project. The new school is planned to be ready for student occupancy in 2021. It would have 9th and 12th grade. The school has a history of a 100 years and has needed endless repairs. The plan is to give students a 21st-century education.
Chris Christie stated, " This new, state-of-the-art school will honor the proud tradition of the Castle on the Hill, enrich our society and improve the lives of students and those around them".
Holy Name School, Sacred Heart Grade School, St. Anthony of Padua School and St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral School are K-8 elementary schools operating under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden. They operate as four of the five schools in the Catholic Partnership Schools, a post-parochial model of Urban Catholic Education. The Catholic Partnership Schools are committed to sustaining safe and nurturing schools that inspire and prepare students for rigorous, college preparatory secondary schools or vocations.
The University District, adjacent to the downtown, is home to the following institutions:
The city was once home to two Carnegie libraries, the Main Building and the Cooper Library in Johnson Park. The city's once extensive library system has been beleaguered by financial difficulties and in 2010 threatened to close at the end of the year, but was incorporated into the county system. The main branch closed in February 2011, and was later reopened by the county in the bottom floor of the Paul Robeson Library at Rutgers University.
The Paul Robeson Library at Rutgers University serves Rutgers undergraduate and graduate students, as well as student from the Camden campuses of Camden County College and Rowan University. Rutgers Law School has a library on campus, as does the Cooper Medical School at Rowan.
The Camden Riversharks were an American professional baseball team based in Camden. They were a member of the Liberty Division of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. From the 2001 season to 2015, the Riversharks played their home games at Campbell's Field, which is situated next to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Due to its location on the Camden Waterfront the field offers a clear view of the Philadelphia skyline. The "Riversharks" name refers to the location of Camden on the Delaware River. The Riversharks were the first professional baseball team in Camden, New Jersey since the 1904 season.
The team wore navy, Columbia blue and white on their uniforms. The home jerseys were white with navy blue outlining and the word "Sharks" across the front in white with navy and a lighter shade of Columbia blue outlining it. The away jerseys were gray with the word "Camden" in the center across the jersey in navy blue with Columbia blue outlining.
When Rutgers-Camden owned the team in 2001, the River Sharks logo was a navy blue ring with the words Camden in between. Underneath was a sharp toothed shark eating the words "River Sharks." The Riversharks' last logo, introduced in 2005 with a new ownership group, consisted of a shark biting a baseball bat superimposed over a depiction of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
On October 21, 2015, the Camden Riversharks announced they would cease operations immediately due to the inability to reach an agreement on lease terms with the owner of Campbell's Field, the Camden County Improvement Authority. The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, whom the Riversharks play for, announced New Britain Rock Cats had joined the league and Camden was one of two teams which could potentially replace the New England team. Since negotiations with the Riversharks and The Camden County Improvement Authority could not be met, the Riversharks ended their 15 years playing at Campbell's Field. The Riversharks folded after losing their lease, a development that followed the purchase of the financially troubled stadium by the CCIA for $3.5 million.
Campbell's Field opened alongside of the Ben Franklin Bridge in May 2001 after two years of construction. Campbell's Field is a 6,700-seat baseball park in Camden, New Jersey, United States that hosted its first regular season baseball game on May 11, 2001. The riverfront project was a joint venture backed by the state, Rutgers University, Cooper's Ferry Development Association and the Delaware River Port Authority. The construction of the ballpark was a 24 million dollar project that also included 7 million dollars in environmental remediation costs before building. Before the construction of Cambell's Field, the plot of land was vacant and historically known to house industrial buildings and businesses such as Campbell Soup Company Plant No. 2, Pennsylvania & Reading Rail Road's Linden Street Freight Station. The park, located at Delaware and Penn Avenues on the Camden Waterfront features a view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge connecting Camden and a clear view of the Philadelphia Skyline.
The ballpark remains home to the Rutgers Camden's college baseball team, and until 2015 was home to the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League of Baseball. The naming rights are owned by the Camden-based Cambell Soup Company, which paid $3 million over ten years.
The stadium remains mostly unused because the Camden County Improvement Authority declined to renew a lease with the Camden Riversharks in October 2015 and has yet to sign a new tenant for the 6,700-seat stadium.
On June 15, 1999, former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman attended the stadium's first game.
Cambell's Field was one of the projects designed to bring urban renewal in Camden. In 2003, Campbell's Field was honored by Digitalballparks.com as "Ball Park of the Year." Campbell's Field was again honored in 2004 by Baseball America as the "Ballpark of the Year." Campbell's Field has been honored with several local awards, including the Camden County Improvement Authority Entertainment Award in 2000, the International Masonry Institute Golden Trowel Award in 2001, the Urban Land Institute's Award for Excellence in 2002, the Downtown New Jersey Excellence Award, the New Jersey Business and Industry Association Good Neighbor Award, and the Distinguished Award for Engineering Excellence given by the Consulting Engineers Council of New Jersey in 2003.
Campbell's Field was bought in August 2015 by the Camden County Improvement Authority (CCIA). In October 2015, after failing to reach an agreement with CCIA, the stadium's primary professional tenant, the Camden Riversharks, ceased operations.
Camden has a national reputation for its violent crime rates, which consistently rank among the highest in the country, and in the developed world. Real estate analytics company NeighborhoodScout has named it within the top 5 "most dangerous" cities in the United States every year since it has compiled the list. Several times it has been ranked 1st on the list, most recently in 2015. In 2012, Camden set a new record by tallying 69 homicides, making for one of the highest murder rates ever recorded in an American city. In addition, since the FBI began uniformly reporting crime data in the mid 1980s, Camden has never seen its yearly violent crime rate drop below 2 per 100 residents. In comparison, the national rate is about 0.37 per 100 residents. So, the lowest violent crime rate that Camden has had in recent decades was still nearly six times the national average.
Morgan Quitno has ranked Camden as one of the top ten most dangerous cities in the United States since 1998, when they first included cities with populations less than 100,000. Camden was ranked as the third-most dangerous city in 2002. Camden was ranked as the most dangerous city overall in 2004 and 2005. It improved to the fifth spot for the 2006 and 2007 rankings but rose to number two in 2008 and to the most dangerous spot in 2009. Morgan Quitno based its rankings on crime statistics reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in six categories: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and auto theft. In The Nation, journalist Chris Hedges describes Camden as "the physical refuse of postindustrial America", plagued with homelessness, drug trafficking, prostitution, robbery, looting, constant violence, and an overwhelmed police force (which in 2011 lost nearly half of its officers to budget-related layoffs).
In 2005, reported homicides in Camden dropped to 34, 15 fewer murders than in 2004. Though Camden's murder rate was still much higher than the national average, the reduction in 2005 was a drop of over 30%. In 2006, the number of murders climbed to 40. While murders fell by 10% across New Jersey in 2009, Camden's murder rate declined from 55 in 2008 down to 33, a drop of 40% that was credited to anti-gang efforts and more firearms seizures. Despite significant cuts in the police department due to the city's fiscal difficulties, murders in 2009 and 2010 were both under 40, staying below the peak that had occurred in 2008, and continued to decline into early 2011. However, in 2012, the city's murder rate spiked and reached 62.
On October 29, 2012, the FBI announced Camden was ranked first in violent crime per capita of cities with over 50,000 residents. In December 2012, Camden residents surrendered approximately 1,137 firearms to two local churches over a two-day period.
There were 23 murders in Camden in 2017, the lowest in 30 years and almost half as many as the 44 murders the previous year. The sharp decline in murders since 2012, when there were 67 murders, matches the decline in the number of non-fatal shooting hit incidents and overall violent crime in the city since 2012.
In 2005, the Camden Police Department was operated by the state. In 2011, it was announced that a county police department would be formed. On May 1, 2013, the police department was disbanded and the newly created Camden County Police Department took over full responsibility for policing the city of Camden.
The fictional Camden mayor Carmine Polito in the 2013 film American Hustle is loosely based on 1970s Camden mayor Angelo Errichetti.
The 1995 film 12 Monkeys contains scenes on Camden's Admiral Wilson Boulevard.
Camden is a setting in "Self-Destruct", a third-season episode of The CW television show Nikita, in which Alex and Nikita destroys a drug and human trafficking gang and their headquarters.
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