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Business and Industry in Camden

We had a lot of business and industry in Camden. If you can ignore our crime rates and poor education statistics, you will be quite impressed about what has been created in Camden, New Jersey.

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  1. Campbell Soup Company: The Campbell Soup Company, known by most just as Campbell’s, is a Camden-based producer of canned soups. Their products are sold in 120 countries around the world, but its headquarters are right here in Camden. The company has been here since 1869 when a fruit merchant, Joseph A. Campbell, wanted to make some canned tomatoes and jellies. It has obviously grown steadily since then, and makes nearly $8 billion a year in revenue. As for its effect on the job market locally, Campbell’s has around 17,500 workers in the city, definitely helping with employment.140618Cooper
  2. Cooper University Hospital: Keep in mind that around 45% of Camden’s employers are in the education and medical sectors. Cooper is a teaching hospital that also does biomedical research. It provides education for an array of medical fields, including nursing, physicians, and allied health professionals. There is also some stem cell science, personalized medicine, and genomics.
  3. The Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA). This is the agency that oversees the port between Philadelphia and Camden, including all transit. It maintains the links between the states, including bridges, ferries, and mass transit. The agency was actually created by President Harry S. Truman in 1951, though there had been some oversight of the port long before it, President Truman just made it official. The four bridges that are monitored by DRPA are the Walt Whitman Bridge, which is the most-traveled of the bridges, the Commodore Barry Bridge, the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, and the Betsy Ross Bridge, which is the newest, having opened in 1976.
  4. L-3 Communications: L-3 is an American company that supplies communication and surveillance products. The company is actually headquartered in Manhattan, but has a factory here in Camden. It’s a pretty cool company, though I am not entirely sure about everything they build as it is often used for reconnaissance. I do know that they created the airport baggage scanning systems as well as airport passenger screening systems. So, in a way, you have them to thank for your safety while flying (and perhaps a little bit of the headache it is to go through airport security).
  5. Rutgers University-Camden: Like I said, education and medicine account for a lot of jobs here in Camden. Rutgers-Camden was started as a joining of the South Jersey Law School and the College of South Jersey. It is one of the three regional campuses for Rutgers University. The college has an area of areas of study, including Arts and Sciences, Business, Nursing, Law, and other graduate and professional programs.
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We did have the Susquehanna Bank, which was based in Lancaster, PA, but the bank became defunct earlier in 2015. Before it went under, its assets were around $18 billion had had 3,400 employees.

Economy

Since we have some fantastic companies to work for in Camden, our economy is not doing so badly. Actually, several large companies have already shown interested in moving to Camden, including Subaru of America, Holt Logistics, and Holtec International. It makes sense really, since we are currently redeveloping several areas of the city. Campbell’s is working on a redevelopment of its headquarters. There was a plan to develop north Camden to build 5,000 new homes and a large shopping center, but the idea wasn’t received well. But maybe it can be brought up again since the real estate market is back in an upswing.

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Living in Camden

Living in Camden, New Jersey has shaped my entire life. But as it is perhaps known for some things that may not show it in the greatest light, I wanted to share the truth and facts about what Camden is really like.

History

Let’s get down to the beginning of it all, just to give you a frame of reference. Camden was settled in the 17th century and named after the Duke of Camden. We were settled by the Dutch West India Company and it was the first European settlement in the area. There was a high Native American concentration since we are located right on the Delaware River, across from Philadelphia.

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We had a lot of ferry traffic because of being situated right across the river from Philly. We grew because Philadelphia grew. For a long time, Camden was merely a suburb of Philadelphia, but we grew on our own and became a city in our own right.

Today’s Life

If you look at statistics, Camden may not be the most appealing city in the United States.

The Bad:

Well, we had three corrupt mayors within 20 years, the most recent, Milton Milan, was found guilty of corruption in 2000. It was pretty disappointing, especially since he was our first Latino mayor. But he was found guilty on 14 counts including bribery from the Mafia, laundering drug money, and staging a break-in to collect insurance money. Not a great guy or a good example of people in Camden.

Our high schools don’t have the best graduate rate either, with a sad average of only 49%. Only three out of 882 kids who took the SAT were considered to be ready for college. So our education system needs quite a bit of work and clean-up. Also, about 40% of the population is below the poverty line.

I have to be honest here; Camden was the city with the highest crime rate in all of the United States in 2012. The city does need a lot of work and it really explains how we wound up with so many crummy mayors.

The Good:

While I know the bad looks really bad, there is still a lot of good in Camden. To begin with, the city is full of history, especially since we were founded before Philadelphia. As the first group of Europeans in the area, there is no European presence here before the settlers landed.

We also have had a lot of famous people come out of Camden. Mary Ellen Avery was a pediatrician who led the research for a treatment for infant respiratory distress syndrome. The disorder happens to premature infants typically with undeveloped lungs, so her research was extremely important. We have also had many famous performers such as Lola Falana and the award-winning Christine Andreas. We have had archaeologists, scientists, athletes, and more, all proving that Camden is way more than a simple statistic on paper. The city builds character.

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Where to Live

Like any city, living within the city center is not always the ideal area to live. That is where the concentration of business and crime both are located, and the rent is high, so if you are moving to Camden, consider instead moving to one of these nearby townships:

  • Collingswood
  • Haddon Township
  • Haddonfield
  • Cherry Hill

There nearby towns are safer and less costly than living within the city itself and are a cheap and easy commute to get there. There is also the PATCO High Speedline that can take you to either Philadelphia or Camden for a fair rate, saving you from needing to park your car in Camden.

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Things to Do and See in Camden and Nearby Areas

If you can get away from any of the seedier areas of Camden, there is lots to see and to do. Remember, the city is extremely historic and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Here are some ideas of things to get out and do in Camden and the surrounding areas.

  1. Waterfront: This is what everyone wants to see when they come to Camden. The waterfront sits along the Delaware River right across from Philadelphia. You can actually see Philadelphia. There are shops and restaurants along the waterfront, but it’s also just really nice to take a walk along it.
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  2. Campbell’s Field: This 6,425-seat baseball field is home of the Camden Riversharks and the Rutgers University-Camden baseball team. The name is after the Campbell Soup Company, which is based in Camden. The baseball park has a great view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which connects Philadelphia to Camden as it spans across the Delaware River. The Philadelphia skyline can also be seen from the park’s grandstand with the Campbell’s Field Cam, which is a weather camera that is broadcast to the local news station.
  3. Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial: This features the USS New Jersey that had been towed into Camden for restoration. The museum opened to the public in 2001 and is still working on preserving the vessel. The ship is one of the largest Navy ships ever built and served the United States in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The ship worked on target Guam and Okinawa in World War II as well as screening aircraft carriers as they conducted raids on the Marshall Islands. In the Korean War, it helped raids along the North Korean coastline. During Vietnam, it was the only US battleship to provide gunfire during the war.
  4. Adventure Aquarium: Formerly known as the New Jersey State Aquarium, this family-friendly educational entertainment attraction is right on the Delaware River. It hosts over 8,000 animals living in all different types of habitats, including freshwater, marine, and semi-aquatic. It’s huge, with a tank holding more than 2 million gallons of water. Public transportation can get you there too, saving on the stress of driving to drive in.
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  5. Walt Whitman House: This was the last place that Walt Whitman was known to live. Whitman, as I’m sure you know, was a very famous American poet. While Whitman was not from Camden himself, after he had a stroke and his mother, who was in Camden at the time, died, he decided to stay in Camden and live with his brother George. Once his brother moved, Whitman bought his own place and it became the only residence he ever owned. The house was extremely shabby and both his brothers and friends were pretty upset about it and called it “the worst house and the worst situated.” No one except Whitman was happy that he bought it. Even though his friends said it was a terrible place for a poet to live, he actually completed many poems in this house, one of which was a sonnet commemorating the completion of the Washington Monument. When Whitman died, his belongings stayed in the house and the heirs just sold it to the city. Now it’s protected by the National Register of Historic Places.
  6. HarleighCemetery: I know cemeteries are not for everyone, but some famous people are buried in Harleigh, including Walt Whitman. The cemetery is home to Ella Reeve Bloor’s tomb, who was a radical labor organizer, and several senators and congressmen. It’s also considered historic. So something to meander through if you are into that sort of thing.

While Camden is not as sexy as its neighbor, it’s also not a boring city. It’s nice to have somewhere to take in all of the history of the area without tackling the crowds you find in Philadelphia. But you can also have some fun in the other areas.