Archive for the ‘Allentown’ category

Well We’re Living Here in Allentown (New Jersey, not Pennsylvania)

December 19, 2018

A few months ago, we bought a house in Allentown. No, not the Allentown in Pennsylvania made famous by coal and Billy Joel, but the one in New Jersey. Never heard of it? You’re not alone.

Like when I told people at work I was moving to Allentown, the response by many was, “Woah, that’s gonna be one hell of a commute!” To which I’d respond, “No, not Allentown, Pennsylvania – Allentown, New Jersey.” I soon realized it was better to preempt such a response by saying “Allentown…New Jersey, not Pennsylvania” and avoiding the confusion. Only, it would lead people to say, “I didn’t know there was an Allentown in New Jersey.”

Allentown

For the many who are unfamiliar, Allentown is home to just over 1,800 people. It’s located at the northwest corner of Monmouth County, and very close to the borders of no less than four other counties: Mercer, Middlesex, Burlington, and Ocean. While it may seem like the geographic center of the Armpit of America, it’s actually 14 miles from that spot. But close enough.

Though located right off the Turnpike (Exit 7A) and very close to the large town of Hamilton, Allentown feels like a world apart from the rest of the state. It’s surrounded by woods, farmland, and creeks. One of the main roads to get out of town is literally a gravel path passing over each of those landscapes.

I also have to highlight Allentown’s Main Street, which looks like something from the past – all local businesses and not a single chain. No Starbucks, no McDonald’s, no Dunkin’ Donuts, no CVS. Given that the town was founded in 1706, historical buildings are all over the place, including an old church that now serves as the town library, and the old mill building, which currently houses a coffee shop and other boutique stores.

There’s also some unique attractions in town, like the combination bicycle/chocolate shop (for real), or the Pork Roll Store – a butcher shop specializing in New Jersey’s favorite spiced pork product. Incidentally, I wrote about this place way back in 2010 after seeing one of their vans on the road. Never would have imagined I’d be living up the street from it eight years later.

What’s also great about Allentown is that it’s near several other attractions that I either never knew existed, or never bothered to visit. For instance, there’s an Amish market (run by real Amish people!) in the town of Columbus. There’s the oddly named Assunpink Wildlife Management Area complete with a lake and gun/archery range. It’s also close to the Pine Barrens, home of the Jersey Devil…and pineys. And let’s not forget about Roosevelt, probably the weirdest town in New Jersey.

Given the small town charm, surrounding farmland, gun range, and even Amish people , this Allentown seems a hell of a lot more Pennsylvania-ish than the real one.

All told, I couldn’t be happier in my new town. But since nothing is in life is perfect, I’ll share my one complaint. Being close to the border with South Jersey, there’s one item on pizza shop menus and the like that irks me to no end. I hate to say it, but I’m now officially living in hoagie country…

 

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