, Heh, that's unexpected. What can I say? I love my local city. It's got its warts, no question about it, we have some pretty annoying traffic at class breaks (since the knucklebrains can't figure out to use the FREE public transportation!) and rush hour when the two major employers, Johnson & Johnson, and Bristol Meyer Squibb let out. Actually living in town and taking advantage of the public transit unless you actually need to get out of town for something will avoid 90% of that. Of course, I've walked all the way from the Piscataway campuses to "main street" New Brunswick, over the river and rt 18, and back in under forty-five minutes. The city is not so large, so my personal opinion is that public transit is for winter and drinking if I'm tooling around town.
Some things I failed to mention, since I seem to be the New Brunswick-Goth Axis Tourist Commission: three incredible graveyards in the city. I know we're not spooky kids hanging out in graveyards, but these are historic and beautiful. One of the members of my Pagan group (Grove of the Other Gods, the bastard ADF grove, http://www.othergods.org
) made an oracle deck from photos of the unique gravestones in the area. There's a university owned art museum in town that is fantastic, the permanent exhibits focus on historic works, but the rotating exhibits are incredible. It's $3 to visit, but there are also monthly lectures and receptions showcasing the new exhibits. Of course, if art is your thing, there's a free gallery in the Mason Gross school on Livingston Ave, which displays the art students' work. It's in the theater district, also where the best food in town is located. Across the river, down 27 into Highland Park, there are more galleries then you can shake a stick at. There're a couple of historic house museums in the area, one in a park off the college "main street" and one over the river. And, of course, the most awesome museum is the Ag department's, which also puts on a huge fair and field day every year, free to get into, with all kinds of fun activities. And, of course, the ice cream they make on site, which is fresh that very day, not free, but awesome. Lots of music and hippies playing disc golf. (Actually, the university has a genuine disc golf course. Really.) There's also an incredible gardens area to see.
The best deal in town is definitely the university. It's not advertised, but you can purchase full university library privileges even if you're not involved with the university, on a yearly basis. Among other things, that means you can go to the media library (not in New Brunswick proper, but free public transit will get you there) and see any of the university's incredible movie collections in one of their viewing rooms. Free night out. There's no longer a YMCA or any other apparent gym in the city, but you can buy a membership in the university recreation department which gains you access to several pools, a climbing wall, several gyms, and a huge array of classes in everything from martial arts, dance, yoga, and some pretty funny things. (We taught a class in boffer fighting one year for the department. Seriously. The university also hosts an ongoing NJ film festival, which makes up for the lack of a traditional cinema in town (you can drive to a huge Loews in about 5 minutes, it's not inaccessible). Actually, the public library in Highland Park also has a free foreign film festival about every Wednesday, that's also easy walking distance from the city. In addition, if you want to be an instant "regular" in the city, you can join the university dining club, which is an interesting experience. It's a nice place, hard to describe. In addition, you can join the community garden club if you like, it's organic, and it's nice to get to garden if you have an apartment in the city.
The major park in town has free ice skating, as does the one across the river which also has an amphitheater, a reconstructed historic village, and a little petting zoo. If you like sports in the spectator sense, we have a huge cricket league and soccer league, and of course, the university sports. I regret to say that, because the university president is a corrupt ass, our prize winning fencing team was canned for our abomination of a multi-million dollar football stadium. In a flood plain. I comfort myself with the thought that, if it floods, we might recruit the old skulling team to reenact naval battles ala the Coliseum.
Now, as far as food, cause I've been chatting with another local on #Goth a good deal and it's on my mind: a suite of high end restaurants that my darling partner has yet to take me too. Of the top restaurants, I recommend Panico's (http://www.panicosrestaurant.com/
and, yes, they also own a pizza place that delivers, you can order the same quality of dinners through the pizza parlor, same food and half price) and Clydz (http://clydz.com/
, which is an incredible, dark martini bar with just phenomenal food). We have an incredible Ethiopian restaurant, also Indian, several Mediterranean, a good pub (Tumulty's, no website) and a brew pub (Harvest Moon: http://harvestmoonbrewery.com/
, whose ale is awesome and they make a mean creme brulee). And, of course, the junk food. We are the home of the grease trucks. I could go on about the food, but I'll end on a healthy note: if you're persistent, the Ag department has an organic CSA if you're a produce eater.
Job wise, New Brunswick has the university, tons of local businesses, two major hospitals, two major pharmaceutical companies, and the home base of a regional bank in town. Over the river in Piscataway we have corporate parks for more pharmaceutical companies, some piece of AT&T (can't recall which since they were broken up some), Colgate if I recall correctly, and a ton of others. Down Easton Ave into Somerset there is one of the vastest corporate parks I know of with every field represented. Pharmaceuticals, communications, computers, engineering, some manufacturing, printing... And, of course, there's New Brunswick a brief train ride away.
On that note, I actually need to get out the door, but, yes, I really do think that the benefits outweigh the "warts" of the city. Our weather is not cheerful, although the beautiful days are gorgeous. Traffic is a pain. It's a gritty city, and we don't pull it off like NYC does. There's a thug culture here, it occasionally flares up, I've had two bikes stolen because I was dumb about where I left them and how long, but otherwise the thugs prey on other thugs and, sadly, on the immigrant population. As a city, we do our best for the poor and the immigrants, we try to shut down the crime and we have plenty in the way of shelters and soup kitchens and food banks, nor do we have a large population of homeless, but the illegal immigrant population won't cooperate with any investigations of the crime, so it continues to mostly afflict them. And, as a college town, we have a high turnover rate. People don't really settle here, there's only some diehards like myself.