Where Do We Go From Here?
December 22nd, 2000 by Tim Evans
50 Years Ago in New Jersey
- In 1950, we munched Sugar Pops and Ball-O-Fire gumballs for the first time. Most of us (58 percent) lived in places with urban or small town densities where you could walk to stores, movies or even work – Newark, Camden, Maplewood, Princeton, Red Bank, Collingswood. Today, only a third of us live this way.
- Only 23 percent of us lived at suburban densities in 1950. Today, more New Jerseyans (45 percent) live at suburban densities than any other way.
- The Garden State had 1.6 million acres of working farmland in 1950. Today, we have less than half that amount.
- Only about 40 percent of New Jersey’s 4.8 million residents were licensed drivers in 1950. Today, about 70 percent of New Jersey’s 8.1 million residents are licensed to drive, reflecting the rise in two-income families and our auto-dependent suburban development.
If New Jersey has evolved from a Garden State of cities and small towns to the nation’s Most Paved-Over State in just 50 years, where do we go from here?
By 2050, New Jersey could be a state of just over 11 million people (a 38 percent increase, using straight line projection of the US Census Bureau’s projections for 2025.) If 70 percent are licensed to drive as is true today, it will mean nearly 8 million drivers on New Jersey roads – a number equivalent to today’s total population.
Where will these new residents live? If we continue to develop as we did between 1986 and 1995, using on average a half acre of land for every new resident, we will have developed another 1.5 million acres by 2050 – nearly the same amount of land we have developed in our state’s entire history. At this pace, New Jersey could well be the first state to reach full build-out.
Today’s pattern of sprawling growth isn’t the one we’ve always had. If we decide a new century means a new way of doing business, we already know how to change this pattern. Implementing the State Development and Redevelopment Plan is a good place to start. Change is a matter of resolution. Happy New Year from all of us at New Jersey Future.
B. Tim Evans, NJF Research Director,