McMansions and sprawl in New Jersey

Humorous maps seem to be all the rage (does it all go back to the Jesusland map of 2004)? A new map of New Jersey has an interesting label for Central Jersey:

A colorful map of New Jersey that went viral on Facebook on Tuesday has offended some while amusing others. It labels some areas of the state with racial stereotypes, but designates the Hudson County area as “HIPSTERS.” South of Hudson, the label is “POOR MINORITIES.” Central Jersey gets labels like “MCMANSIONS” and “LAWYERS DRIVING HYBRIDS.”…

An article on a Westfield news website credits the design to a 22-year-old Rutgers graduate who says he works for the state Department of Environmental Protection and also “works with the Geographic Information Systems, making maps of preserves and researching resource conservation.”

He says that he’s talked to people all over the state, so he has the experience to know what’s what.

To be clear, there are actually two areas in central New Jersey that involve McMansions: one is labeled “executives living in McMansions driving Mercedes-Benzes” and other is labeled “McMansions!!” Is this the best kind of exposure for a government employee these days? I wonder if anyone will object to the McMansion label – would even the people who live there object?

New Jersey is often equated with McMansions. However, I do think that the blanket reference doesn’t necessarily refer to the particular homes but rather refers to a larger process of sprawl that many people associate with New Jersey. This spread of sprawl is summarized in this October 2010 story:

A report released in July by Rowan and Rutgers Universities found that, after comparing aerial photos of the state, the years from 1986 to 2007 were New Jersey’s most sprawling period, when unprotected land was developed most rapidly.

When development ground to a halt in mid-2007 as the housing market collapsed, New Jersey had more acres of subdivisions and shopping malls than it had of upland forests and was down to its last million acres of developable land, according to the report, called “Changing Landscapes in the Garden State.”

Two-thirds of the land developed in New Jersey from 2002 to 2007 became “low-density, large-lot” residential properties, swallowing farmland, wetlands and unprotected forest, the report found. Preservationists and some developers say that the building of large single-family homes on oversize lots cannot continue at that rate, even if the housing market recovers.

This sounds like the challenge many built-out suburbs are facing: how does one do development when there is very little or no remaining open land? Redevelopment and building up might become popular options.

One thought on “McMansions and sprawl in New Jersey

  1. Pingback: If Americans can celebrate and preserve ranch and modernist homes and Brutalist architecture, we can expect to see preserved McMansions | Legally Sociable

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