With the latest news that the refurbishment of the New Jersey Statehouse could cost nearly $750 million, there has been discussion to the merits of such an expense and why we should spend this money to fix a building that does not represent the changing role of government. Instead of spending that money on an antiquated building, I believe it is time for New Jersey to show the rest of the nation that we are going to be a cutting-edge place to live and work. The time of Trenton as our capital has past. It is time to look toward the rebirth of New Jersey, and I believe that starts with changing the actual capital of the state.
Yes, that is right. Let’s move the capital.
Trenton has been the state capital since our state’s founding, and one reason it was chosen was its close proximity to Philadelphia, the first capital of our country. Needless to say, times have changed. A majority of our population is located in the northern part of the state, and New York City has surpassed Philadelphia in importance. Trenton has a crumbling infrastructure, a local economy that has been depressed for decades and a failing school system that is controlled by the state. The neighboring city of Camden is consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. Is this the vision we want to give to the rest of the country and the world of what New Jersey is really like?
I propose a capital for our state that is located more geographically in the middle of New Jersey, making it easier for people from the north and south to conduct business with the government. I propose a capital that is near major highways and close to an international airport, one that has a local economy and state theaters. One that is close to the businesses of New Jersey and has leading research facilities and the flagship of the state college system. A city that is not in the shadow of large cities such as Philadelphia or New York City. I propose that New Brunswick should become the new capital of New Jersey.
Over the past 10 years, I have witnessed the growth of New Brunswick firsthand. The improvements to the roads, the expansion of their hospitals, the new buildings that Rutgers has built and the return of a nightlife to a city. New Brunswick has hotels and conference centers that are important to a capital city. The money that is to be spent on one building can be used to create a dynamic new building that represents a change in government from the old way to the new way. Buildings that will house important government functions and represent the changing world of the 21st century. While some might say the new buildings do not look “capital like,” that should not matter. The actual look of the building isn’t as important as the actual work that is going on within.
Some may comment that a capital should represent the history of the state, and I can see why some would make that argument since I am a history teacher myself, but with choosing New Brunswick, we are not abandoning the history of our state. New Brunswick is a historic city, with Rutgers formed before the U.S. was even established. Gen. George Washington had a Continental Army training camp along the Raritan River, and one of the first readings of the Declaration of Independence happened in New Brunswick.
New Brunswick is an ethnically diverse city that can represent the best that our state has to offer. It has everything that a capital needs: a central location, easy transportation, museums and colleges, nightlife and government buildings as the county seat. The only thing missing is the actual seat of New Jersey government and a new cutting-edge building representing the forward-thinking of all people from New Jersey. Trenton was a past we can look fondly on, while New Brunswick can represent the future that we hope for.