New Brunswick, New Jersey, the home of our beloved Rutgers University was originally founded on December 30th 1730 by the Royal Charter. One of it’s many knicknames is the “Healthcare City” because of the presence of St. Peters Hospital, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, among other medical research companies Johnson & Johnson, for example. New Brunswick has been around for a long time, originally New Brunswick had nearly one fourth of New Brunswick’s mostly white population was Hungarian. In relatively recent years the city’s spanish population has boomed, now possessing a large latino community. Recently i spent time walking around the city, and despite it’s age, and the influx of a relatively poor population; which is often a sign of dilapidation, I was impressed by the way that the city had been maintained, the usage of land, and the overall planning of most of the area that i came in contact with.
I was very impressed with the extensive use of mixed use building in the city, especially on Easton Avenue. Many of the buildings near the intersection of Hamilton Street and Easton Avenue have living quarters situated above stores, restaurants, icecream parlors or coffee shops. The use of mixed use buildings in this part of the city in addition to the presence of bars allows this area to function as somewhat of a hub for student life.
In addition to having bustling business and convenient housing, walking around near the College Avenue Campus and most of New Brunswick is very safe because of the traffic calming and pedestrian safety measures that have been designed/put into effect around the city. Of course this makes sense since Rutgers is home to the Bloustein School (Rutgers school of urban planning / public policy), which facilitates a very active planning community. The use of refugee islands, the trees that are planted around the streets, street parking and frequent cross walks help to make the city a safe place to walk. Pictured directly below is one of the cities refugee islands, and below that an example of one of the neatest cross walks i came across, one with a motion sensor.
Finally, for critiques of the city’s urban design. When the city was designed, there were not a great deal of accommodations made for bicyclists. There are almost no biking lanes or shoulders around the city, forcing cyclists to either have to share the roads with cars or ride on the sidewalks. Furthermore there is a great lack of bike racks throughout the city, only being present in some locations, none of which are on the university campus.
Also, unfortunately there are some spots where the traffic calming measures that are stated previously have not been put into effect or are effective to a lesser degree. Under the train station on George Street is one of these such areas. Crossing the street is difficult because of the speed of the cars as they come out from under the tunnel. The roads are wide under the tunnel and as the road continues out from under the tunnel the cross walks are poorly maintained and the intersection is not very well regulated. I would suggest insertion of a stop light in order to regulate this area.
Overall i would say that New Brunswick is a successful Urban City, of course, there will always be improvements to be made but this is best done by rehabilitation and community participation.