There are lots of people who throw the term ‘ghetto’ around. But which of New Jersey’s largest cities are the most ghetto of all?
How do you decide if a place is ghetto or not? You ask the internet. According to the Urban Dictionary, a ghetto is defined as:
“urban; of or relating to (inner) city life” and “poor; of or relating to the poor life.”
Using that criteria, it’s not hard to scrape the internet, run some scientific data on where ghettos might exist in a state and then put out a list.
After analyzing all cities with 10,000 people or more, we came up with this list as the most ghetto places in New Jersey:
- Camden (Photos)
- Newark (Photos)
- Passaic (Photos)
- Paterson (Photos)
- Asbury Park (Photos)
- Atlantic City (Photos)
- Trenton (Photos)
- Bridgeton (Photos)
- East Orange (Photos)
- Jersey City (Photos)
Read on below to see where your hometown ranked and why.
Note: We’re aware that there are more ‘ghetto’ cities that are smaller than 10,000. We wanted to rank only the largest cities here for a more clear indication of which major city centers are ghettos. Therefore, it’s assumed that the cities above (and their suburbs) are more ghetto than the larger cities not listed here.
What ghetto criteria did we use?
In order to rank the most ghetto places in New Jersey, we had to determine what criteria defines a ghetto city or neighborhood.
Since a ghetto is defined as a poor area, we used income levels, crime and education levels as a guide to determine where the most broke citizens of a state live.
Additionally, the staples of inner city life include cheap and discounted retail outlets.
We started by making a list of every place in New Jersey with more than 10,000 people based on the 2013 American Community Survey. That left us with more than 200 places in the Garden State.
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using Yelp and Area Vibes, this is the criteria we used:
- Household income levels
- High school graduation rates
- Number of convenience stores
- Number of drug stores
- Number of discount stores
Note: For the sake of getting reliable numbers, we counted places within a city’s border, as well as within a short driving distance.
All of these results are listed in a per capita basis. Meaning number of stores per person in a state. Additionally, high school graduation rates are determined by looking at the total number of people who live in a city, not the current graduation rate of an area’s high schools.
For more New Jersey reading, check out:
Drop out rate: 41%
Crime: 3rd highest
Let’s just end this debate right now. Camden is by far the worst ghetto in New Jersey. In fact, it might be the worst ghetto in the country.
Internet research saw people calling Camden “New Jersey’s shittiest shit hole”, the New York Times called it the poorest city in America.
Most families here struggle to meet their basic needs. 40% live below the poverty line. And it’s the third most dangerous place in the state. There were ‘only’ 38 murders here in 2014, which is down from 58 the year before. Hurray!
We could go on and on. You get it. You already know this place is ghetto.
Drop out rate: 34%
Crime: 8th worst
Things aren’t too much better in Newark, New Jersey’s second worst ghetto. Incomes are higher, and crime is a little better. But wow – 112 murders here in 2013 means someone was killed here about every three days.
You have ‘only’ a 1 in 31 chance of being robbed for every year you spend in Newark.
Newark used to have a store called Ghetto Fabulous, but sadly, it’s closed now.
Newark led the way with Tweets mentioning #ghetto.
Someone said this: “it’s kinda cool how ghetto newark is. “
Drug stores: 12th most
High school dropout rate: 40%
For those who don’t know, Passaic is a jam packed city in the Paterson/Newark area where you will see lots of people struggling to make ends meet.
The income levels here are the 4th lowest in the state, and there aren’t many other places in New Jersey – or in the country – with a more uneducated population.
And the number of drug stores per capita is really high here. Sociologists have indicated that drug and discount stores are a staple of inner city life.
Drop out rate: 32%
Crime: 5th highest
Paterson is right up there when you look at the ghetto numbers. Crime is abysmally high here; the city saw 18 murders two years ago, and if you spent a year in Paterson, you’d have a 1 in 93 chance of being killed, attacked or raped. Not fun.
Twitter blew up with Paterson ghetto Tweets.
“Going to work in the ghetto today of good old Paterson New Jersey. Nothing better than section 8 housing.”
5. Asbury Park
Drop out rate: 27%
Crime: 2nd highest
If you thought crime was bad in Paterson, it’s even worse here in Asbury Park, according to the FBI. This small city of 15,000 people on the shoreline saw 6 murders in 2013. Plus, there were 842 robberies/arsons here that year.
According to Wikipedia, the downtown area is going through an economic revival, and the dilapidated downtown district is undergoing a revitalization effort, as are the empty blocks just off the boardwalk area.
6. Atlantic City
Drop out rate: 35%
Sure, lots of the robberies that happen in Atlantic City are related to the tourism industry, but statistically, this is the most dangerous place in the state, when you factor in the high number of property crimes that happen here.
This is one of the brokest, most uneducated sore spots in New Jersey. The unemployment rate here is a staggering 15%, which is one of the highest rates you’ll see in the United States.
Twitter had lots to say about how ghetto Atlantic City is:
“Atlantic City NJ is still largely a ghetto nearly 40 years since the 1st casino. Thank you Donald Trump. “
Drop out rate: 35%
Crime: 3rd highest
Trenton is where criminals prey on the unsuspecting, and more likely, on each other. This place is notorious for crime – in fact there were 37 murders here in 2013, which is just about as many as Camden.
A quarter of the population lives below the poverty line, and there are just about more drug stores packed into Trenton than there are anywhere else in the state.
Like many of the other cities on this list, Trenton was hit hard when manufacturing and industrial centers declined in the 1970s.
Drop out rate: 46%
Crime: 4th highest
There are more people walking around Bridgeton, New Jersey without a decent education than pretty much anywhere else in the United States. At least in places with a decent-sized population.
Internet forums were filled with people dogging Bridgeton for being one ghetto place. Here’s an example of a comment we plucked from City Data.
“If you like high taxes, a one party government, mobs of illegal aliens, rude people, and a ghetto mentality, Bridgeton is perfect for you. It’s Gang Land, Drug central, Dirty, NO JOBS, filled with GUN wielding thugs, and a piss poor police department. IT’S A NIGHTMARE!!!!!”
9. East Orange
Drop out rate: 20%
Discount stores: 14th worst
The other Oranges (West and South) are apparently pretty decent, but East Orange is pretty ghetto when you look at the numbers.
Incomes are really low, and crime is bad. According to folks on City Data, East Orange has high crime, and is very unsafe, day or night. Twitter agreed.
“I hate the ghetto east orange kills me”
10. Jersey City
Drop out rate: 18%
Crime: 13th worst
Jersey City is one of the largest cities in New Jersey, and can make a claim that it has one of the highest populations of ‘ghetto’ people. While there are nice places here, there are also large pockets that are really bad.
While a 1 in 52 chance of being robbed doesn’t sound bad, a lot of that is concentrated in certain areas. Places you don’t want to go into at night for sure.
Said Twitter: “If you go on NJ.com, you see nothing but shootings in jersey city, why y’all so proud to be ghetto”
There You Have It
If you’re measuring the locations in New Jersey where there are a high number of poor and uneducated residents, and where there are a high number of discounted shopping stores, this is an accurate list.
Additionally, here are the least ghetto places in New Jersey:
- Upper Montclair
We also wrote about the 10 Most Redneck Cities In New Jersey if you didn’t happen to see it. Click here to read it.
Desktop users, below is a ghetto ranking chart of all large cities in New Jersey, along with their crime numbers: