New Jersey's Liberty Tower
New Jersey's Image

New Jersey has a severe image problem around the country - one that is exacerbated by the media, which is made up of the same companies that have come to New Jersey to build a tower. I have lived in six states, from New Jersey to Oregon and have visited 40 of them. Everywhere I have gone I have had to endure the New Jersey jokes and snide comments about our state. Just on Friday, January 17, 2003, the WB's show "What I Like About You" revolved around ridiculing New Jersey.

WB's "What I Like About You" Friday - January 17 2003 8:00pm
Scene is a PR office in New York.
Character states that she is doing a job for the New Jersey Tourism Department and is trying to come up with a slogan for New Jersey.
Another character answers back - "What about - 'New Jersey - It's supposed to smell like this.'"

Commercial Break

PR employee has been to several meetings in Trenton and will have to go back to New Jersey in the morning.
She tells everyone - "It's only been two days and I already hate that state."

Commercial Break

PR employee is back in NY and starts to tell somebody about someone who she met in New Jersey.
"....while visiting New Jersey's 7th Largest Tourist attraction, the Paramus Mall..."

This constant negative portrayal of our state in the media hurts New Jersey tourism severely. Unless New Jersey has something unique to draw people to the state and use it to advertise the state, we will continue to be viewed in this VERY negative way. No amount of state funded advertising can change outsiders' opinions when there is this constant barrage of negative portrayals in the media.

As I've said, I have lived in six states (New Jersey, California, West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois and Oregon) and I have visited 40 states. Wherever I have gone I have had to endure the many New Jersey jokes. When I say I'm from New Jersey - people respond back "You mean New Joisey." For the record - I can not even pronounce New Jersey that way.

In Oregon and Washington people constantly asked me if there are any trees in New Jersey. They had the impression that New Jersey is paved over from end to end and is one giant city. I've had people in the US, as well as Canada, insist that New Jersey was part of New York. Many people also just consider New Jersey as a suburb of New York without it's own unique identity. I have been told repeatedly to just accept this - but I REFUSE to accept this.

Also, after coming back to New Jersey, I have discovered that very few New Jerseyans are even aware of how much New Jersey has to offer. I constantly hear New Jerseyans themselves repeating the same negative stereotypes. My own cousins felt very negative about the state until I took them on some trips, outside New Jersey as well as within. They now see how much New Jersey has to offer. I constantly give tours to friends who have never been here before. Some have negative images of the state before they get here - but when they leave, they have a completely different impression of the state. I have friends who are scheduled to come out in March and I will again be giving the grand tour of New Jersey. More New Jerseyans themselves need to be shown the great things this state has to offer.

Everyone knows about our beaches, but many people outside the state think they're covered in pollution. Outside New Jersey, people constantly claim that our beaches are covered in hypodermic needles. No one outside, and many New Jerseyans themselves, do not realize that it was New YORK's garbage which washed up on our beaches from the Fresh Kills Landfill and that New Jersey took New York to court to make them pay for the cleanup. People do not realize that our beaches and ocean water are cleaner than California's. Jay Leno perpetuated this stereotype this past year with a doctored photo of Miss America dipping her foot in the Atlantic Ocean at Atlantic City - they added garbage washing up around her feet.

Many people, inside or outside the state, are not aware of the many historic sites we have - from Revolutionary War sites which put on reenactments such as at Monmouth Battlefield every year to Thomas Edison's Laboratory where he invented so much of what we take for granted today. New Jersey also contains the only surviving Royal Governor's Mansion in the country (where the last Royal Governor of New Jersey, Benjamin Franklin's son - William Franklin -was arrested after the signing of the Declaration of Independence) and the only surviving barracks from the French and Indian War (Trenton Barracks) which was also the location of the Battle of Trenton, commonly referred to as the "Turning Point of the Revolution". People don't know about the pristine northwest mountains of New Jersey, such as Worthington State Park - with it's breathtaking views of the Delaware Water Gap or High Point State Park. People don't think about calmly canoeing along the rivers through the Pine Barrens or horseback riding through the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park.

I feel New Jersey's Liberty Tower WITH observation deck and tourist related amenities can change this perception and replace the attitude of "Why would I want to go there?" to "Let's go to New Jersey." This will especially be the effect on the many millions of people who currently visit New York - but never think about stepping foot in New Jersey. With Liberty Tower near Liberty Science Center - it would draw many of these New York visitors over by ferry. Of course they will only see a reason to come to New Jersey if they can go up into an observation deck.

Once visitors are here at the tower - a free movie can be included for visitors which will show them the history of the state and then continue on with a virtual first person perspective tour of the many great tourism opportunities this state offers - such as four person bicycling through historic Cape May, balloon riding at the New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Somerset County, horseback riding through the Delaware & Raritan Canal or going to a revolutionary war reenactment. We can USE the tower to DRAW people to New Jersey and then use it to advertise this great and very diversified state to these many visitors.

I know, from personal experience, that when people are shown the state, it completely changes their perception and feelings toward New Jersey. They leave with a much better opinion of our state and end up going home and sharing their experiences with others. They discover the great wilderness, culture and history that this state has. The BEST form of advertising is word of mouth - but we need to give the people who would never think about coming to New Jersey a reason to make the trip. An observation deck will give these people, who have a very negative impression of our state, a reason to come over and visit. This will bring in many millions of dollars in tourism and will also be the foundation upon which we can build a national and international awareness of our many other tourist attractions.

On the front page of my website - I try to show people this diversity through collages I have put together using many of the pictures I have taken throughout New Jersey. I have many thousands of similar photos from Cape May to the moutains in the northwest. Each section of my website will contain a collage similar to the one's I have placed on this page.

I personally hope, for the sake of New Jersey's image and the many tourism sites around the state, that New Jersey will insist and accept nothing less from the NY broadcasters than to build Liberty Tower WITH an observation deck alongside Liberty Science Center. This will be the only way - within the immediate future - for New Jersey to change the negative image of the state and to show millions of people this beauty and diversity as demonstrated in my pictures.

So please - sign the online petition and show your support for New Jersey's Liberty Tower and send a message that New Jersey wants and will not accept anything less than a tower with an observation deck.