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The City of Camden is the county seat of Camden Countymarker, New Jerseymarker, in the United Statesmarker. It is located across the Delaware River from Philadelphiamarker, Pennsylvaniamarker. As of the United States 2000 Census, the city had a total population of 79,904.

Camden was originally incorporated as a city on February 13, 1828, from portions of the now-defunct Newton Township, while the area was still part of Gloucester Countymarker. On March 13, 1844, Camden became part of the newly formed Camden County.

Three Camden mayors have been jailed for corruption, the most recent being, Milton Milan in 2000. Since 2005 the school system and police department have been operated by the State of New Jerseymarker, the takeover will expire in 2012. In 2009 Camden has the highest crime rate in the United Statesmarker with 2,333 violent crime's per 100,000 people while the national average is 455 per 100,000. Camden spends $17,000 per child for education and only 2/3 of the students graduate. Two out of every five residents are below the national poverty line.


Early history

Fort Nassau (located within the present boundaries of nearby Gloucester City, New Jerseymarker), was built by the Dutch West India Company in 1626, and was the first European attempt to settle the area now occupied by Camden. Initial European activity in the vicinity of present day Camden occurred along the banks of the Delaware River where the Dutchmarker and the Swedishmarker vied for control of the local fur trade. Europeans continued to settle in and improve the area during the seventeenth century. Much of the growth directly resulted from the success of another Quaker colony across the Delaware River known as Philadelphiamarker, which was founded in 1682 and soon had enough population to attract a brisk trade from West Jersey and Camden. To accommodate the trade across the river, a string of ferries began operation.

1800s onward

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 1800s. One of the United States' 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 Citymarker and Philadelphiamarker via ferry terminals in South Amboy, New Jerseymarker 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.

Originally a suburban town with ferry service to Philadelphiamarker, Camden evolved into its own city, as industry and neighborhoods grew. Camden prospered during strong periods of manufacturing demand and faced distress during periods of economic dislocation.

Like most American cities, Camden suffered from decline in the 20th Century as the manufacturing base and many residents moved out to other locations. Currently, government, education, and health care are the three biggest employers in Camden; however, most employees commute to Camden and live in nearby suburbs such as Cherry Hillmarker. Revitalization has occurred along the Camden Waterfront and in certain neighborhoods with access to Philadelphia.

Industrial history

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. RCA Victor contained one of the first commercial recording studios in the United States, where Enrico Caruso, among others, recorded. The General Electric Company reacquired RCA in 1986.

In 1992, the State of New Jersey under the Florio Administration made an agreement with GE to ensure that GE would not close the Camden site. The state of New Jersey would build a new high tech facility on the site of the old Campbell Soup factory and trade these new buildings to GE for the existing old RCA-Victor Buildings. Later, the new high tech buildings would be sold to Martin Marietta. In 1994, Martin Marietta merged with Lockheed to become Lockheed Martin. In 1997, Lockheed Martin divested the Camden Plant as part of the birth of L-3 Communications.

The Nipper Building
famous "Nipper Building" depicting RCA's famous "His Master's Voice" trademark in its tower windows has since been renovated into a luxury apartment building called "The Victor." Building 8 is set to be rehabilitated into luxury condominiums called "Radio Lofts." Both projects are the work of Dranoff Properties, a well known Philadelphia development corporation that has specialized in these types of constructions. Another older building, Victor Building No. 2, is used to this day to house the Camden City Board of Education.

From 1899 to 1967, Camden was the home of New York Shipbuilding Corporationmarker, 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 Villagemarker) was a planned European-style garden village built by the Federal government during World War I to house New York Shipbuilding Corporation workers.

At Camden's peak, 10,000 workers were employed at RCA, while another 40,000 worked at New York Shipbuilding. RCA had 23 out of 25 of its factories inside Camden. Campbell Soup was also a major employer. By 1969, Camden had been losing jobs and residents for a quarter century due in large part to urban decay, highway construction, and racial tensions .

In Jefferson Cowie's "Capital Moves", Cowie refers to Camden City in the 1920s as the "Citadel of Republicanism". The decline of the Republican Party in Camden City overlapped the decline of Manufacturing.


Situated on the Delaware River, with access to the Atlantic Oceanmarker, the Port of Camden handles breakbulk and bulk cargo. The port consists of two terminals: the Beckett Street Terminal and the Broadway Terminal (commonly known as the Port of Camden). The port receives hundreds of ships moving international and domestic cargo annually. [15119]

In 2005, the Port of Camden (South Jersey Port Corporation) was subject to an unresolved criminal investigation and a state audit.

In December 2006, Governor Jon S. Corzine speculated on moving port operations further south to allow the community greater access to the waterfront.


Federal Courthouse in Camden
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.

Local government

Camden's City Hall opened in 1931.

Since July 1, 1961, the City has operated 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 opted to modify the form of government to better address the changing needs of the citizenry. To that end, the City of Camden was divided into four councilman districts, instead of electing the entire Council at-large. One Council member was elected from each of the four districts. In 1995, the election was changed from a partisan election to a non-partisan Municipal Election.

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.

Gwendolyn Faison is the Mayor of Camden. She is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, a bi-partisan group with a stated goal of "making the public safer by getting illegal guns off the streets." The Coalition is co-chaired by Bostonmarker Mayor Thomas Menino and New York Citymarker Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Members of the City Council include:
  • Angel Fuentes - City Council President and Ward 4
  • Dana Redd - Vice President and Council Member At Large
  • Curtis Jenkins - Council Member At Large
  • Michael McGuire - Ward 1
  • Francisco "Frank" Moran - Ward 3
  • Gilbert "Whip" Wilson - Council Member At Large
  • Ali Sloan-El, Sr. - Ward 2 (resigned August 30, 2006).

Federal, state and county representation

Camden is in the First Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 5th Legislative District.


Map of Camden County Highlighting Camden
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of ; of it is land and of it is water. The total area is 15.03% water.

Camden borders Collingswoodmarker, Gloucester Citymarker, Haddon Townshipmarker, Pennsaukenmarker, and Woodlynnemarker. Just offshore of Camden is Pettys Islandmarker, which is officially part of Pennsauken Township.

Camden contains the U.S.'s first federally funded planned community, Yorkship Villagemarker (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.


As of the census of 2000, 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 53.35% Black or African American, 16.84% White, 2.45% Asian, 0.54% Native American, , 0.07% Pacific Islander, and 22.83% from other races. 3.92% of residents were from two or more races. 38.82% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 8.9% of the population is foreign-born. 7.1% of the population were Whites of non-Hispanic ancestry.

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 3.12 and the average family size was 3.62.

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 per capita income for the city was $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.

Based on 2006 data from the United States Census Bureau, 44% of the city's residents live in poverty, the highest rate 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 the special, Diane Sawyer profiled the lives of three young children growing up in Camden. A follow up was shown on November 9, 2007.

In 2000, 28.85% 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, Massachusettsmarker and Hartford, Connecticutmarker, for all communities in which 1,000 or more people listed an ancestry group.


New Jersey Transit's Walter Rand Transportation Centermarker is located at Martin Luther King Boulevard and Broadway. Besides being a major hub for New Jersey Transit (NJT) buses and Greyhound Lines, the Walter Rand Transportation Center is also a PATCO high-speed line and the recently-opened River LINEmarker light rail station.

The PATCO Speedline offers frequent train service to Philadelphia and the suburbs to the east in Camden Countymarker, with stations at City Hallmarker, Broadway (Walter Rand Transportation Center) and Ferry Avenuemarker.

Since its opening in 2004, NJT's River LINE has offered frequent light rail service to towns along the Delaware north of Camden, and terminates in Trentonmarker. Camden stations are 36th Streetmarker, Walter Rand Transportation Center, Cooper Street-Rutgers Universitymarker, Aquariummarker and Entertainment Centermarker.

NJT bus service is available to Philadelphiamarker on the 313, 315, 317, and 318 and various 400 series lines, to Atlantic Citymarker is served by the 551 bus. Local service is offered on the 450, 451, 452, 453, and 457 lines.

Interstate 676 and Route 30 runs through Camden to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge on the north side of the city.


One of the most popular attractions of Camden is the city's waterfront, along the Delaware River. The waterfront is highlighted by its four main attractions, the USS New Jerseymarker; the Susquehanna Bank Centermarker; Campbell's Fieldmarker; and the Adventure Aquariummarker.

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 for revitalizing their city.

The recently renamed Susquehanna Bank Center (formerly known as the Tweeter Center) is a 25,000-seat open-air concert amphitheater that was opened in 1995.

Campbell's Field, opened in 2001, is home the Camden Riversharks Minor League Baseball team, of the Atlantic League; and the Rutgers-Camdenmarker baseball team.

The USS New Jersey marker was a United States Navy battleship that was intermittently active between the years 1943 and 1991. After its retirement the ship was turned into a museum along the waterfront that opened in 2001. The New Jersey saw action in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Other attractions at the Waterfront are the Wiggins Park Riverstage and Marina, One Port Center, The Victor Lofts, the Walt Whitman Housemarker, the Walt Whitman Cultural Arts Center, the Rutgers-Camden Center For The Arts and the Camden Children's Garden.

The Waterfront is also served by two modes of public transportation. New Jersey Transit serves the Waterfront on its River Linemarker, while people from Philadelphia can commute using the RiverLink Ferry, which connects the Waterfront with Old Citymarker Philadelphia.


Urban Enterprise Zone

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).


Camden suffers from unemployment, urban decay, poverty, and many other urban issues.
Camden had been passed over for redevelopment for many decades. The dawn of the 21st Century has brought new redevelopment plans. 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. The nearby Sears building was bought by a local developer, with plans for loft-style housing and commercial businesses. Cherokee Investment Partners had a grand plan to redevelop north Camden with 5,000 new homes and a shopping center on 450 acres. Cherokee dropped their plans in the face of local opposition and the slumping real estate market.


Camden's public schools are operated by Camden City Public Schools. The district is one of 31 Abbott Districts.

Holy Name School, Sacred Heart Grade School, San Miguel School, St. Anthony of Padua School, St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral School are elementary schools that operate under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden.

The University District, adjacent to the downtown, is home to the following institutions:

Camden is also home to Cooper University Hospitalmarker, which is nationally recognized as a leader in the area of trauma.


Club Sport League Venue Logo
Camden Riversharks Baseball Atlantic League of Professional Baseball Campbell's Fieldmarker


Based on statistics reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigationmarker, Camden was the third-most dangerous city in the United States during 2002, and has been ranked the nation's most dangerous city in 2004 and 2005. "Most dangerous city" is based on crime statistics in six categories: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and auto theft.

City Councilman Ali Sloan-El, responding to 2004 news about the 2003 statistics, cites Camden's poverty as an important contributing factor to its high crime rate. The demographic data from the Census indicates about a third of the city's residents live below the poverty line.

However, in 2005, homicides in Camden dropped sharply, to 34 — fifteen fewer murders than were reported in 2004. Though Camden's murder rate is still much higher than the national average, the reduction in 2005 was a drop of over thirty percent. Then in 2006, the numbers of murders climbed to 40. Murder rates are generally not static and change from year to year especially in smaller cities.

Morgan Quitno Corporation has ranked Camden in the top ten most dangerous cities in America since 1998, when they first included cities with populations below 100,000. It was ranked the most dangerous overall in 2004 and 2005. It dropped down to the fifth spot for the 2006 and 2007 rankings but rose to number two in 2008 and to the top spot in 2009 .

Riverfront State Prison

Riverfront State Prison, which opened in August 1985, is located near downtown Camden on the north side of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. It held 1,009 inmates in 2006. On June 18, 2009, the last prisoners were transferred to other locations and the prison was closed. The site is expected to be redeveloped, possibly for residential and recreational use.

Additional facts

  • Richard Hollingshead, inventor of the drive in theater was a resident of Camden.
  • On September 6, 1949, mass murderer Howard Unruh went on a killing spree in his Camden neighborhood in which he killed thirteen people. Unruh, who was convicted and subsequently confined to a state psychiatric facility, died October 19, 2009.
  • Racial riots occurred when a Puerto Rican motorist was beaten by city police and died in August 1971. Sections of downtown were looted and torched.
  • The Camden 28 were a group of "Catholic left" anti-Vietnam War activists who in 1971 planned and executed a raid on a Camden draft board. The raid resulted in a high-profile trial against the activists that was seen by many as a referendum on the Vietnam War.
  • In the 1990s sitcom A Different World, the character Jaleesa Vinson (played by Dawnn Lewis) is from Camden, New Jersey.
  • In 1996, Governor of New Jersey Christine Todd Whitman frisked Sherron Rolax in Camden, which many alleged violated Rolax's civil rights.
  • The initial shoot-out in the fourth "Die Hard" movie, Live Free or Die Hard, takes place in Camden.
  • The Courier-Post is formerly based in Camden.

Points of interest

Noted residents

Some noted current and former residents:


External links

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