The title of this blog may be somewhat misleading due to the fact that Rutgers New Brunswick is not exactly “central” because it has five different campuses that are pretty spread out and divided by highways. However, i argue that the concept of decentralization that is, for the purpose of this blog post, the process of shifting the majority of student life from one or more dispersed areas to a specific area, can be seen due to the expansion of the Livingston Campus.
The decentralization of something can occur for a number of reasons whether it be political, social, technological, economical etc. For instance, during the late 19th century (1800s), the population in the United States was increasing at an exponential rate (Contemporary Urban Planning, Levy). Many problems, including congestion of cities, pollution, crime, and disease became more frequent which encouraged the decentralization of cities. Transportation technology extremely influenced decentralization because it allowed the people to migrate much more easily, especially when the production of automobiles exponentially increased by the 1930s (Contemporary Urban Planning, Levy). This caused the rapid growth of metropolitan areas and suburbs. Other factors that lead to this rapid suburbanization were increases in communication technologies, introduction to motion pictures and the development of the overall economy.
I argue that Rutgers University is experiencing its own mini decentralization period because the expansion of the Livingston campus. In recent previous years, the Livingston campus was concidered the absolute worst campus at Rutgers by the majority of the student body. However, it is now being called the best campus which is encouraging more students to migrate from the Cook/Douglas, College Avenue and Busch campuses over to the Livingston Campus. During the 19th Century, we saw increases in department stores, banks, hotels, theaters, restaurants and residential districts due to the economic increases (Contemporary Urban Planning, Levy). Well, the same thing has happened on the Livingston Campus. There is now a movie theater, a diner, a food market and a frozen yogurt place right underneath the new apartment buildings. There is even a clothing store, a gadgets store and even a salon on its way. The Livingston campus also primarily hosts almost all of the concerts and big events at Rutgers and has arguably the best dining hall too.
There may be more reasons that students are migrating, or at least wishing to migrate, to Livingston than its attractive new buildings and benefits that the campus is now generously offering. For instance, most students that go to Rutgers can agree that College Avenue is not exactly a clean, safe or aesthetic environment to live in. Most streets are glazed with glass, trash and cigarette buds and crime occurs on local streets almost every night. Not to mention the annoyance that is experienced by the residents of college avenue due to the consistent drunken mobs of underclassmen that roam the streets every single weekend. The congestion in terms of traffic is also unbearable and frustrating, especially during rush hour.
In terms of the other campuses, the apartment and dorm buildings at Cook and Douglas are simply too old and the insides of them can sometimes resemble that of insane asylums. I feel as though the people that are not fond of living on Busch may agree with the statement that Busch just does not have anything interesting going on and some of the apartment buildings are way too far from any bus stop.
All of these factors seem to combine to make a perfect recipe for decentralization. The consequences of “Livingstonization” are unclear, at least to me, for the moment. However, wouldn’t it be interesting if history repeated itself and the same reactions of urbanization/decentralization of America occurred right here at Rutgers University? One thing is for sure, I noticed that there are not nearly enough trash cans in front of the apartment buildings at Livingston and therefore I propose that there is a need for some reforms in terms of environmental planning. What do you think? For more recent information on decentralization or urbanization of America, click here.