I favor leaving the battleship New Jersey in Camden, and a friend and I are planning a trip to Camden and Philly next Sunday, July 1st. We will definitely be going to the Aquarium, and I want to go to the battleship too. My friend has already visited the battleship in Camden but is willing to go again with me before we head into Philly. Now my question: if South Jersey is unable to make the Camden site work financially, and people in Jersey City don't want to block the view of the Lower Manhattan skyline, might we move the battleship to Port Newark, and perhaps arrange a North Jersey/South Jersey sharing arrangement in which the ship stays in Newark for, say, two years, then Camden for two years, back and forth in perpetuity?
Perhaps areas of the battleship could serve as a conference or even convention center, at least part of the time, while others serve as a museum all the time. I've also thought Newark, which does not have a convention center, could rehabilitate the SS. United States for similar purposes. The two projects, far from being mutually exclusive, could create a synergy that made tourists, and locals, aware of Newark's own maritime significance in the Northeast.
I have actually seen the New Jersey being towed decades ago to NYC past Sandy Hook Bay, when I was out with my father on his boat, headed to the Coney Island area from the Leonardo Bayshore. Newark's own bayshore, apart from Port Newark's freight operations, is very undeveloped, but is near the huge Newark International Airport, and could easily accommodate the New Jersey as the focus of development of market-rate to luxury highrise housing with marinas and other waterfront amenities, within view of the Manhattan skyline, but not blocking anything.
Newark and Camden have had similar urban difficulties, and are fighting the good fight to restore their good name and quality of life. Newark is a lot farther along in that fight, but Camden is making modest progress too. Sharing the battleship between these two largest cities of North and South Jersey would promote good feeling between the two halves of this divided state. I don't know that it would be possible to bring the ship to Downtown Newark because of the Jackson Street Bridge, but I think the river itself may be deep enough if some way past that bridge could be found, as with a canal thru the spit of land in Harrison between Red Bull Arena and Downtown Newark where there used to be giant natural-gas storage tanks. Or the Jackson Street Bridge could be lengthened for a wider Passaic pass thru to Downtown Newark. Or perhaps the battleship could be anchored at a dock to be created at the new Riverfront Park in Newark, on the Passaic opposite Red Bull Arena, east of the Jackson Street Bridge.
A little brainstorming and good will might go a long way in making the battleship New Jersey a unifying icon for the entire state of New Jersey.
L. Craig Schoonmaker,