Jersey City gunman was a Black Hebrew Israelite

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Jersey City gunman was a Black Hebrew Israelite, so don’t expect to hear much more about the shooting

It was only January when certain journalists went way out on a limb to give friendly news coverage to the racist and anti-Semitic Black Hebrew Israelite cult. This very odd editorial decision seemed to come in the service of better sticking it to the high school students from Covington Catholic — boys whom the Black Hebrew Israelites had taunted on the national mall, inciting what became a famous incident.

So, now that one of the black nationalist cult’s former members stands accused of a deadly shoot-out with police, possibly in an act of anti-Semitic terrorism targeting a Kosher grocery market in Jersey City, we are probably not going to hear much talk about the Black Hebrew Israelites in the broader context of radicalization and gun violence. That would be a personal and professional embarrassment for a lot of reporters and editors, some of whom are currently in the middle of defending against lawsuits by the Covington teens.

The New York Times, for example, published an entire profile in January describing the Black Hebrew Israelites and their tactics in friendly, playful terms, including “gamely engage,” “blunt and sometimes offensive,” and “attention-grabbing,” but all for the purpose of “drawing listeners near.” The profile is even sure to mention that a popular rapper once mentioned the group by name in a song.

A report published separately by the Washington Post likewise mentions the rapper incident. It does not, however, take any time to lay out the cult’s well-known history of racism and anti-Semitism. All that the report says is that the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have labeled the Black Hebrew Israelites as a “hate group” for its “inflammatory messages about white, LGBT and Jewish people.” That’s it. The Jan. 22 Washington Post story said also of the Covington episode that the Black Hebrew Israelites presence at the Lincoln Memorial “was, for the group, quite mundane,” adding further that “Israelite street preaching in parts of D.C., Philadelphia and New York is commonplace, a familiar if odd accent to city life.”

It is still possible Tuesday’s shooting spree inspires a broader conversation about gun violence and the dangers posed by radical hate groups like the Black Hebrew Israelites. But don’t hold your breath.

Meanwhile, the Covington teenagers, falsely portrayed as hateful bigots in the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere, are not known to have shot anyone — at least not in the last 11 months.

Suspected Jersey City gunman said to have railed against Jews online

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Suspected Jersey City gunman said to have railed against Jews online

Officials refuse to publicly elaborate on targeting of kosher market, but investigators reportedly believe rampage was motivated by anti-Semitism, anti-police sentiment

Emergency responders work at a kosher supermarket, the site of a shooting in Jersey City, N.J., Wednesday, December 11, 2019. (AP/Seth Wenig)

Emergency responders work at a kosher supermarket, the site of a shooting in Jersey City, N.J., Wednesday, December 11, 2019. (AP/Seth Wenig)

One of the suspected gunmen in the deadly Jersey City shooting at a kosher supermarket on Tuesday railed against Jews and police officers on social media, according to a report Wednesday, as authorities indicated that the store had been targeted in the deadly incident.

A law enforcement official said police believe the shooter was motivated by the anti-Semitic and anti-police beliefs, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

Details of the online posts were not provided in the article.

The two suspects, who were both killed in a shootout with police, were identified as David Anderson and Francine Graham, NBC New York quoted law enforcement sources saying.

According to the network, Anderson was once a follower of the Black Hebrew Israelite’s, who believe they are descendants of the ancient Israelite’s and may practice elements of both Judaism and Christianity. Some Black Hebrew Israelite groups have been accused of racism and anti-Semitism.

Officials said a religious note was found in the vehicle allegedly used by Anderson and Graham but that they were still investigating a motive.

A neighbor of Graham’s in Jersey City told NBC she was formerly a home health aide in Manhattan who met Anderson after getting hurt and quitting her job. The neighbor said Graham became a “dark” person after meeting Anderson.

A police officer and three bystanders were killed in the violence, as were the two suspects, Tuesday afternoon in Jersey City, just across the Hudson River from New York City. Two of the bystanders have been identified by local community members as Leah Mindel Ferencz, 33, and Moshe Deutsch, 24, both members of the local ultra-Orthodox community.

The 40-year-old slain officer, Detective Joseph Seals, who led the department in the number of illegal guns removed from the streets in recent years, was cut down by gunfire that erupted near a cemetery. The gunmen then drove a stolen rental van to another part of the city and engaged police in a lengthy shootout from inside the kosher market, where the five other bodies were later found.

Police officers arrive at the scene of an active shooting in Jersey City, New Jersey, on December 10, 2019. (Kena Betancur / AFP)

Local officials earlier on Wednesday said they believe the Jewish-owned supermarket was targeted, but stopped short of laying out an anti-Semitic motive. Neither the state attorney general, who is running the investigation, nor any other law enforcement authority has confirmed the shooters targeted Jews.

“Based on our initial investigation (which is ongoing) we now believe the active shooters targeted the location they attacked,” Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said.

Fulop did not elaborate on why authorities now believe the market was targeted.

Steven Fulop

@StevenFulop

Based on our initial investigation (which is ongoing) we now believe the active shooters targeted the location they attacked. Due to an excess of caution the community may see additional police resources in the days/weeks ahead. We have no indication there are any further threats

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Fulop said that there were no signs of further threats, although earlier reports had said a third gunman may have escaped the scene, and said he had been in close contact with Jersey City’s Jewish community following the attack.

“I know the entire Jersey City community stands together with the Jewish Community during these challenging times,” Fulop said.

Next to the store, the only kosher supermarket in the area and a central fixture for the growing community, are a yeshiva and a synagogue. Around 100 Jewish families live in the area in the city’s Greenville neighborhood, with most of the families having moved there from Brooklyn in the last few years.

Chabad Rabbi Moshe Schapiro, who shops at the store and attends the synagogue next door, said he spoke with the store owner, Moishe Ferencz, before Ferencz learned that his wife had been killed in the attack.

“He told me he had just walked out of the store into the synagogue not five feet away just before this happened, and then he couldn’t get back for hours,” Schapiro said. “His wife was inside the store. He said, ‘I hope my wife is safe.’”

New York City councilman Chaim Deutsch, a member of the city’s Jewish caucus, said that New York City police were providing extra security to synagogues and other sites.

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Seals was credited by his superiors with having led the department in the number of illegal guns removed from the streets in recent years, and might have been trying to stop an incident involving such weapons when he was cut down by gunfire that erupted near the cemetery, authorities said.

The bullets started flying early in the afternoon in the city of about 270,000 people, situated across the Hudson River from New York City. Seals, who worked for a unit called Cease Fire, was shot around 12:30 p.m. The gunmen then drove a stolen rental van to another part of the city and engaged police in a lengthy shootout.

A police officer pushes pedestrians back from the scene of a shooting in Jersey City, New Jersey, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Kelly said that when police responded to the area of the kosher store, officers “were immediately engaged by high-power rifle fire.”

“Our officers were under fire for hours,” the chief said.

Inside the grocery store, police found the bodies of who they believed were the two gunmen and three other people who apparently happened to be there when the assailants rushed in, authorities said. Police said they were confident the bystanders were shot by the gunmen and not by police.

Police officers arrive at the scene of a shooting in Jersey City, New Jersey on December 10, 2019. (Kena Betancur/AFP)

US President Donald Trump said he had been briefed on the incident, which he called a “horrific shootout,” adding that the White House would be monitoring the situation and assisting local officials.

“Our thoughts & prayers are w/ the victims & their families during this very difficult & tragic time,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

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The 7 Most Densely Populated States

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Most Densely Populated States

The U.S. Census Bureau puts the current population of the United States at just under 330 million people. It estimates that a new person joins the country (either through birth or immigration) about every 13 seconds. And while the country may have 3,783,801 square miles of space to share, according to the CIA World Fact Book, some areas are more populated than others. For example, Wyoming may be a large state in terms of size, but more people live in the smaller state of New York.

So, what are the most densely populated states? If you broaden your question to include districts, then the most densely populated area of the United States is Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital has a population of just over 700,000 people, with 11,490 people per square mile, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s about ten times the population density of any of the 50 states. These are the most densely populated states.

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New York

New York

Credit: GCShutter/iStock

Population Density: 414 people per square mile

New York City may have the highest population density of any city in the United States, but the rest of the state isn’t quite so crowded. According to NYC.gov, the population density of New York City is 27,000 people per square mile.

However, the state itself only ranks as the seventh-most densely populated, with just 414 people per square mile, according to the World Population Review. If you take the population of NYC out of the equation, New York would drop way down this list.

Delaware

Delaware

Credit: DenisTangneyJr/ iStock

Population Density: 500 people per square mile

Delaware comes in next with a population density of 500 people per square mile, according to the World Atlas. The state ranks a surprising number six on this list. Why surprising? That’s because Delaware’s population hasn’t even reached the one million mark yet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

However, it’s densely populated because of its size. The state is smaller than Anchorage, Alaska, according to World Atlas, and is only 35 miles across at its widest point. So, it’s packing just under a million people into a state the size of a small city.

Maryland

Maryland

Credit: Sean Pavone/ iStock

Population Density: 625 people per square mile

Maryland packs a lot into 10,000 square miles, especially people. The state comes in fifth in population density in the United States, with 625 people per square mile, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

While Maryland may be one of the smallest states in the union, big cities such as Baltimore contribute quite a bit to its high population density. Baltimore itself has a population density of 7,657 people per square mile, according to Open Data Network.

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Connecticut

Connecticut

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Population Density: 737 people per square mile

This scenic state is the home of Yale, which counts Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, and George W. Bush as graduates. It’s known officially as the Constitution State and unofficially as the Nutmeg State.

Connecticut is also home to about 737 people per square mile, according to the World Population Review. That puts it fourth in the nation for population density. The state packs about 3.5 million people into under 5,000 square miles, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Most people in Connecticut live in New Haven, Hartford, Stamford, and Bridgeport, four of the largest cities in the state. Bridgeport, the largest city, has around 144,229 inhabitants and is New England’s fifth most populous city. It’s also the home of Beardsley Zoo, which has been Connecticut’s only zoo for 90 years.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts

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Population Density: 890 people per square mile

Massachusetts is home to nearly 7 million people spread out over almost 8,000 square miles of space, according to the U.S. Census BureauWorld Atlas puts the population density of the state at 890 people per square mile, more than twice that of New York. It’s also the home of Martha’s Vineyard, the Boston Pops, and the third-largest Chinatown in the U.S.

Additionally, Massachusetts is one of only four states to have the word “commonwealth” in its official name (the other three being Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Virginia). As the location for many Revolutionary War conflicts, it will always hold a special place in the nation’s history.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island

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Population Density: 1022 people per square mile

There are about 1022 people per square mile in Rhode Island, according to States 101. The total population is just over one million people.

Rhode Island is actually the smallest state in the union. It’s also one of the least populated. Yet, because of its size, it ranks at an impressive number two on our list of the most densely populated U.S. states. According to Rhode Island’s official government website, the distance from north to south is just 48 miles. If you want to travel from east to west, you’ll only need to drive about 37 miles at the widest point.

The total area of the state is about 1,500 square miles, but an astonishing 66% of that consists of bodies of water. So, those million or so Rhode Island residents are crammed into a region spanning 34% of inhabitable land.

New Jersey

New Jersey

Credit: DenisTangneyJr/ iStock

Population Density: 1211 people per square mile

The Garden State has plenty to offer, including amazing beaches. There’s one area, however, where the state outshines its neighbor New York, and that’s in population density. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, New Jersey has 1,211 people per square mile. The state has a population of 8.9 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but packs them into an area that’s a little smaller than Maryland.

The Garden State is also home to some of the most densely populated cities in the world. According to NJ.com, Guttenberg, Union City, and West New York are three of the most densely populated cities on earth. Also, New Jersey isn’t just famous for having the highest population in the U.S. Turns out that the state also has more horses than any other state in the Union. According to NJ.com, there are about 4 horses per square mile.

5 Creepiest Places in the United States

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Creepiest Places in the United States

It’s almost Halloween. If you need a little adrenaline rush for this spooky season, consider visiting one of the five creepiest places in the United States. Each will scare you more than an old horror movie.

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Mütter Museum (Philadelphia, PA)

Mütter Museum (Philadelphia, PA)

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If you’re a science nerd or love learning about the human body, you’ll feel right at home at Mütter Museum. But the average visitor will most likely be creeped out. Why? Because it’s the home of human skulls, preserved bodies, cross-sections of Albert Einstein’s brain, and so much more.

The mission of the Mütter Museum is to “help the public appreciate the mysteries and beauty of the human body while understanding the history of diagnosis and treatment of disease.” And while that does sound like a noble cause, this museum is still not for the faint of heart. That collection of 139 human skulls — they all belonged to one man. He was a Viennese anatomist named Joseph Hyrtl, who lived in the 1800s.

Trans–Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (Westin, West Virginia)

Trans–Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (Westin, West Virginia)

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There is nothing creepier than a shuttered insane asylum. And that’s precisely what the Trans–Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is. For $100, you can stay overnight. Seriously. This asylum operated in Westin, West Virginia, from 1864–1994. Perhaps the origins of the shelter were altruistic, providing a safe, comfortable home for those not able to function in normal society. But over the years, conditions became more and more horrific. At one point during the 1950s, over 2,400 people lived in this facility built to house only 250.

Sadly, hundreds of people died here over the years. And staff, guests, and hosts from your favorite paranormal reality TV shows say they’ve seen apparitions, heard bizarre noises, and experienced strange things. The asylum’s website says they’ll leave it to you to decide if the place is haunted.

Villisca Ax Murder House (Villisca, Iowa)

Villisca Ax Murder House (Villisca, Iowa)

Credit: Laura Bernhardt/ Flickr/ CC BY-ND 2.0

The Villisca Ax Murder House is the site of a brutal murder scene. This horrible event happened in 1912, but the murder remains unsolved. Of course, after they found bodies, this small Iowa town was in chaos and just wanted to be able to go to sleep without worrying for their lives. But despite private detectives, police investigations, and several suspects, the case was never solved.

We can rest assured whoever committed these heinous 1912 murders is no longer with us. But that still doesn’t explain the reported ghost sightings and other hauntings at the Villisca Ax Murder House. If you really want to go check it out yourself, you sure can. You can even stay there overnight.

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The Stanley Hotel (Estes Park, Colorado)

The Stanley Hotel (Estes Park, Colorado)

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“Redrum, redrum.” If you’ve seen The Shining, you know exactly what we’re talking about. A stay at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, inspired Stephen King to write the hit book. The movie wasn’t filmed at The Stanley, but guests, staff, and visitors often report paranormal experiences, including feeling the ghosts of past travelers.

And while The Stanley is an incredibly stunning hotel and on the National Register of Historic Places, they do lean into their reputation. They offer night tours that emphasize the paranormal. And around Halloween, they have lots of extra-creepy events such as a murder mystery dinner and a masquerade party in the ballroom that is supposedly the most haunted space in the whole venue.

Clinton Road (West Milford, New Jersey)

Clinton Road (West Milford, New Jersey)

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One of the myths of Clinton Road is that the ghost of a little boy haunts a particular bridge. Sometimes, if you throw him a coin, he will throw it back to you. Sounds silly enough, but how freaked out would you be if that happened to you? One legend has it that the boy was hit by a car while he was walking on the bridge when he bent over to pick up a quarter. So if you go there, see a coin on the ground, and try to pick it up, he will push you into the water to save you from being hit by a car too. So maybe he’s a friendly ghost.

4 Longest Roads in the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

4 Longest Roads in the U.S.

If you love cruising the open road with your car or motorcycle on adventurous road trips, you need to travel the longest roads in the United States. You don’t have to worry about exits, except to find some great places to eat, rest, and soak up local flare. The best part about traveling on one of the longest roads is you don’t have to worry about your navigation system kicking in and interrupting you while you rock out to your favorite music or listen to an inspiring podcast. Here are the four longest roads in the U.S., so you can plan your next exciting road trip:

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U.S. Route 30, New Jersey to Oregon

U.S. Route 30, New Jersey to Oregon

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The nation’s fourth longest road and third longest U.S. highway spans 3,072 miles starting in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and ending in Astoria, Oregon. In addition to Oregon and New Jersey, U.S. 30 runs through nine more states, giving you plenty of exciting rest stops. One of the most gorgeous stretches of U.S. 30 is the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway, which runs through Idaho from Bliss through Twin Falls. This part of U.S. 30 meanders through the Snake River Canyon where you will find thousands of waterfalls, hot springs, and charming Idaho towns.

For more small towns and some historic immersion, you will find several worthwhile stops on U.S. 30 through Nebraska, called the Lincoln Highway Historical Byway. As you travel this route you will drive along the Oregon, Mormon, and California trails, as well as the transcontinental Pony Express route and Union Pacific Railroad. The largest city along U.S. Route 30 is Philadelphia, where you can visit several historical sites like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, The Betsy Ross House, and one of the oldest streets in the U.S., Elfreth’s Alley. If you spend some time in Philadelphia, don’t forget to enjoy a world-famous Philly cheesesteak.

Interstate 90, Massachusetts to Washington

Interstate 90, Massachusetts to Washington

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The nation’s third longest road and longest interstate runs from Boston to Seattle and spans a little more than 3,100 miles. If you drive it from end to end, it would take you about 46 hours, but with so many must-sees and must-dos along the way, it will surely take you longer. Traveling along I-90 brings you through 13 states, including Massachusetts and Washington. If it’s an urban getaway you crave, stop off in Cleveland, Ohio, to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, or head to Chicago to visit the Navy Pier, The Art Institute of Chicago, or the Museum of Science and Industry.

If you crave a smaller town feel, spend some time in Madison, Wisconsin. Located on an isthmus formed by two lakes, this capital city offers cute pubs and restaurants in the downtown area, which is also home to the University of Wisconsin. Outdoor enthusiasts won’t miss the chance to visit Yellowstone National Park when traveling farther west on I-90. Although the park is about an hour away from Livingston, Montana, I-90 is the best route to visit the geologic wonders on its north side. As you continue to drive along I-90 through Montana, Idaho, and Washington, the scenery of the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Mountains is so breathtaking, you won’t want your trip to end.

U.S. Route 6, Massachusetts to California

U.S. Route 6, Massachusetts to California

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In comparison to the other longest roads in the United States, U.S. Route 6 lies the furthest south, primarily because the highway runs diagonally. On the east coast, U.S. 6 begins at the tip of Cape Cod in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and goes all the way to Bishop, California. If you were to drive Route 6 from start to finish, you would visit 14 states, and it would take approximately 61 hours to travel its 3,207 miles. U.S. 6 was once the longest road in the country, but after the Department of Transportation renumbered highways during the ’60s, it moved down the list. Route 6 is formally known as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, dedicated to the Union troops who fought during the Civil War.

Unlike the other longest roads in the United States, U.S. 6 travels primarily through medium cities, small towns, and charming rural areas. The largest urban areas you can enjoy from U.S. 6 include Denver, Des Moines, and Omaha. This gives you the opportunity to explore middle America. If you are traveling with children, make sure to spend a night or two in Sandusky, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie. Here you can enjoy the world-famous Cedar Point Amusement Park and ride some of the biggest rollercoasters in history.

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U.S. Route 20

U.S. Route 20

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Stretching for 3,237 miles from Boston to Newport, Oregon, U.S. Route 20 is the longest road in the United States. This beautiful route is packed with panoramic views and exciting attractions for those who love an epic road trip. It takes you through some of the nation’s must stunning national parks, such as Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Yellowstone in Wyoming, and Craters of the Moon National Monument, as it parallels I-90 for most of its length. U.S. 20 has not been converted to a four-lane highway in many areas, making this two-lane adventure the perfect opportunity to slowly meander across the United States.

On the eastern part of the route, you will find quaint and charming towns, providing a real taste of Americana with main streets that have looked the same for decades. In fact, the Massachusetts portion of Route 20 follows the old Boston Post Road used to carry mail between New York City and Boston in the 1600s and 1700s. Route 20 in New York travels through the Finger Lakes Region of the state and winds through remote areas filled with antique shops and charming bed and breakfasts. Likewise on the west coast, you will find enchanting bed and breakfasts throughout the vineyards of Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Why New Jersey is Even Weirder Than You Think

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

Why New Jersey is Even Weirder Than You Think

Where can you gaze at a six-story elephant, enjoy a specialty processed pork product, and potentially be arrested for pumping your own gas? Weird, wonderful New Jersey, that’s where.

While tiny in size, New Jersey has a quirk factor big enough for the entire nation. Here are a few of the reasons why New Jersey is even weirder than you think.

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A Lot of People Choose to Live There

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With lovingly bestowed nicknames like “armpit of the nation,” you might not think New Jersey would be a desirable place to live. It’s actually the most densely populated state in the U.S., with over 1,200 people per square mile. That’s a big difference between the least-populated state, Alaska, which has only 1.3 people per square mile.

It’s Illegal to Pump Your Own Gas

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In most places, when you need to get gas, you get out of your car and pump it yourself. Not so in New Jersey. Per the state’s Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act and Regulations, it’s illegal to dispense one’s own fuel based on the idea that it’s safer to have someone supervise the activity. Weird, sure, though it’s nice that you don’t have to get out of your car in the winter.

There’s a State Monster

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The Jersey Devil has been the stuff of cautionary tales in the Garden State for years. Thousands are said to have seen the creature in the Pine Barrens region, with nearly a thousand sightings in one single week in 1909.

But it gets even weirder. Did you know that there’s a bounty out on him? According to reports, the Philadelphia Zoo has offered $10,000 for his capture, and the Hunt Brothers Circus offered $100,000.

It Has a Six-Story Elephant

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No, you’re not seeing things: that is in fact a six-story elephant. Erected in 1881, Lucy is an Atlantic City icon and has National Historic Landmark Status. She’s also popular: Lucy is the most popular non-gaming-related tourist attraction in the region.

Dinosaurs Lived in New Jersey

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Archaeology might not be the first thing you think of when you think of New Jersey, but maybe it should be. In 1858, the first relatively complete set of dinosaur bones (for a dinosaur called hadrosaurus foulkii) was excavated by William Parker Foulke.

It Inspired Monopoly’s Street Names

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As you’re walking around Atlantic City, the street names might seem familiar: Ventnor Avenue, Park Place, Baltic Avenue. Yes, indeed, the streets in the classic board game Monopoly are inspired by actual streets in Atlantic City.

It’s Got More Diners Than Your State

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If you love a good classic diner, you’re in luck when spending time in New Jersey. Dubbed “The Diner Capital of the Country,” the Garden State boasts over 500 diners within its relatively small landmass.

Tons of Celebrities Are From New Jersey

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A pretty surprising number of famous people hail from New Jersey — and we’re not talking about the cast of “Jersey Shore.” Among their ranks? Bruce Springsteen, Jack Nicholson, Jon Bon Jovi, Meryl Streep, Martha Stewart, Danny DeVito, Queen Latifah, and Tom Cruise — to name just a few!

It Claims True Ownership of the Statue of Liberty

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The Statue of Liberty is one of New York’s biggest attractions. But could it actually belong to New Jersey? While Liberty Island is federally owned, it’s surrounded by Jersey City’s waters, so as it turns out, New Jersey may have a claim on one of the nation’s most famous landmarks.

Two Words: Pork Roll

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Pork roll is a processed meat product that looks somewhat like Canadian bacon but is more like Spam in terms of its ingredients list. Sound gross? Not to New Jersey residents. Pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich on a hard roll is a classic and beloved Jersey breakfast.

The Weird and Wild World of New Jersey

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New Jersey may be small, but it’s mighty in terms of weirdness. From archaeological discoveries to odd food specialties, it’s never a boring day in the Garden State!

5 Colonial-Era U.S. Landmarks That Are Still Standing

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 Colonial-Era U.S. Landmarks That Are Still Standing

How much do you remember about colonial-era America? For many of us, it’s been a while since we studied U.S. history, and specifically the American Revolution. If you live outside of the original 13 colonies, you might not be exposed to constant reminders like historic landmarks that serve as living memories of this volatile time. But if you’re thinking of creating a historic road trip through the original states this summer, you’re going to want to include these five landmarks on your list.

Fraunces Tavern – New York City

Credit: OlegAlbinsky / iStock

New York City is full of locations where our Founding Fathers met, the nation’s first president was sworn into office, and which was an occupied territory under British rule. If your travels take you to lower Manhattan, you can see all of those places and get a history lesson at Fraunces Tavern. Fraunces Tavern is a real working pub that was originally intended to be the private home of the De Lancey family after the land was first acquired in 1719.

Eventually, the three-story building was transferred to Samuel Fraunces in 1762 and was named Sign of Queen Charlotte (The Queen’s Tavern). The property served as an inn for weary travelers, a place for hungry locals, and—at times—a safe haven for loyalists during the Revolution. As the war progressed, patronage shifted to Continentals and even housed George Washington when he was in the city. Since 1762, Fraunces Tavern has served as a bar and occasional boarding house. Today, you can visit the museum on the upper floors and enjoy a drink downstairs in the bar or grab a bite in one of the historically named rooms.

Old Tennent Presbyterian Church – Manalapan, New Jersey

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Everyone knows that historic battles occurred in fields all across the original colonies. But did you know that one church in a sleepy New Jersey town served as a field hospital after the Battle of Monmouth? In June 1778, the British and Continental armies faced off in a part of Monmouth county known today as Freehold. While the battle wasn’t a deciding point militarily, a historic landmark was made when the Old Tennent Presbyterian Church in present Manalapan became a triage center for the Continental Army.

Army doctors cared for wounded soldiers while the battle raged on around them. And to this day, you can find bullet holes and cannonballs in the church’s walls as well as see marks and blood stains on several church pews where wounded soldiers were treated.

Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson – Winnabow, North Carolina

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Often when we focus on the Colonial Era in the U.S., we think about the Northeast almost exclusively. But the southern colonies were just as active throughout this period of history. Brunswick Town is a port town on Cape Fear River in North Carolina that was once central during the 18th and 19th centuries for sea merchants and businessmen who relied on exporting their goods. The settlement was established in 1729 and helped to drive economic growth in the region thanks to an infusion of wealthy landowners from South Carolina.

But the town is best known as an early site of Colonial rebellion during the Stamp Act of 1765—a law that required any legal documents or commercial publications to feature a stamp that had to be purchased from the Crown. Angry citizens formed an armed mob and prevented a British ship from unloading the stamps. While this temporarily halted trade in the region, the colonists’ persistent protest in Brunswick Town led to the eventual repeal of the Stamp Act.

Nathan Hale Homestead – Coventry, Connecticut

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Who is Nathan Hale? If you’re not an American Revolution buff or a Connecticut resident, you might not know. But for the Constitution State, this young man is a local hero who was born in Coventry. Nathan Hale is considered by many to be an integral member of the Continental spy ring that provided vital information about British activities to the Continental Army and General George Washington specifically. However, the spy ring wasn’t well managed, and Hale wasn’t the best spy.

After infiltrating New York City and gathering critical information in 1776, he was discovered by British forces with drawings and detailed notes—outing him as a spy and condemning him to death. Nathan Hale is best known for his famous final words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” But these days you can visit the Nathan Hale Homestead, which has been expertly preserved from its humble origins when it was built in 1776.

George Washington’s Estate – Mount Vernon, Virginia

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And finally, if you’re going to create a trip focused on U.S. colonial history, you simply can’t skip Mount Vernon. This Virginia locale is the home of our nation’s first president, George Washington. Step back in time and see how Washington lived as you walk through the plantation’s palatial grounds. Mount Vernon serves as an immersive experience with guided tours and history lessons that help you understand more about the man who would lead a cluster of colonies to independence and what led him into this role. The estate was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1960.

5 State Nicknames That No Longer Make Sense

(TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 State Nicknames That No Longer Make Sense

Coming from someone who grew up in the “Bluegrass State,” I will be the first to tell you some state nicknames don’t make sense — or are at least misleading. The state got this nickname from early settlers who named a certain type of grass “Bluegrass” because of the blooms on the top, which were slightly blue. But this grass isn’t as common as the state nickname would lead you to believe. Here is a look at five other state nicknames that no longer make sense.

Wisconsin — The Badger State

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Wisconsin’s state nickname no longer makes sense — and technically never did — because there are no more badgers in this state than there are anywhere else. The nickname “The Badger State” comes from the 1820s, when thousands of miners flocked to the Midwest. They made homes for themselves by digging caves in the rock under the ground, much like badgers do. For this reason, these miners became known as “badgers” or “badger boys.” There were so many of them (or maybe the nickname was just so funny) that the whole state became known as the Badger State.

Minnesota — The North Star State

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It is not clear why Minnesota was ever called the North Star State, unless it was just due to its position as one of several northern states in the contiguous United States. The name comes from the translation of the state’s French motto “L’Etoile de Nord,” but the state isn’t particularly well-known for its eoile (star) or being in the nord (north). This nickname has been especially misleading since Alaska joined the United States in 1959, making that state the northernmost in the country.

Utah — The Beehive State

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Like Wisconsin, this is another nickname that is more misleading than “wrong.” With a nickname like “The Beehive State,” you would expect Utah to be a leader in honey sales or production, but it is actually 24th in the nation when it comes to that industry. So why is it called the Beehive State? According to historians, Utah has used the beehive as its state symbol for hundreds of years, as it stands for “hard work and industry.” In fact, Utah values industry so much that its state motto is simply “Industry.” So the busy bees in the Utah beehives are not real bees, but hard-working people.

Alaska — The Last Frontier

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Space is the final frontier, according to Star Trek, but Alaska has long been known as “The Last Frontier,” due to its unsettled areas and its general wildness. Many people take this nickname to mean that it was the last territory to be settled in America, and this is no longer true. While both Alaska and Hawaii officially became states in 1959, Alaska achieved statehood in January, while Hawaii didn’t become a state until August. In this case, maybe Hawaii is the real last frontier.

New Jersey — The Garden State

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Anyone who has ever been to New Jersey, especially the northern part, can tell you there is not much garden to be found in this “Garden State.” A good portion of the state is bustling with businesses, people and traffic. The origin of the nickname actually comes from a speech given by Abraham Browning in 1876. He said that “our Garden State is an immense barrel, filled with good things to eat and open at both ends, with Pennsylvanians grabbing from one end and New Yorkers from the other.” How that translates to a garden, I’m not sure, but it makes a great example of a state whose nickname no longer makes sense.

5 Discoveries in the 5 Smallest States

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 Discoveries in the 5 Smallest States

America’s smallest states might not have a lot of territory to work with, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t jam-packed with exciting sights and experiences to discover. As an added bonus, you’ll have more time to visit even more curious destinations than you would criss-crossing some of the nation’s more massive states.

It is also convenient that America’s smallest states are all located in relatively close proximity to each other, filling in the nooks and crannies of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Did someone say road trip?

Hit the road and check out these five unique discoveries in each of the smallest states.

Rhode Island: The Providence Athenaeum

At just over 1,200 square miles, Rhode Island is the smallest state in the United States, but don’t let its size fool you. Little Rhody, as the locals affectionately call it, is big on things to do. From devouring some of the freshest seafood you’ve ever tasted to exploring its multitude of prestigious museums, including the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the Ocean State offers something for everybody.

One place you don’t want to miss is the Providence Athenaeum. Founded in 1836, this historic library was frequented by early horror writer H.P. Lovecraft and poet Edgar Allan Poe (you can even see his original library record). Peruse its unrivaled rare book collection and you can find an 1855 copy of Leaves of Grass with handwritten notes by Walt Whitman.

Delaware: Rothschild Patent Model Collection

Famously ridiculed in “Wayne’s World” for having nothing to do, Delaware is actually an overlooked gem with sandy beaches, NASCAR races, and a ton of colonial historic sites.

Of course, you can find all of those things elsewhere. But Delaware offers one thing you can’t find anywhere else: the world’s largest collection of patent models. Up until 1880, inventors had to include physical models along with their patent applications, resulting in some 200,000 models being created.

At the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, you can see an array of pieces from Alan and Ann Rothschild’s collection of 5,000 patent models. Explore this one-of-kind collection of contraptions to discover creations such as George Stillman’s original Roller-Skate, and early versions of washing machines, animal traps, dust pans, and reclining chairs. Can’t make it to The First State? Luckily you can browse a huge chunk of the fascinating collection online.

Connecticut: Traveler Restaurant

Before you leave Connecticut, make sure you stop at the Traveler Restaurant in Union to get a delicious meal and a free book or two. That’s right, diners at the Traveler Restaurant are invited to select a book of their choice from the restaurant’s ever growing library of donated tomes.

The food isn’t bad either. With four stars on Yelp, the Traveler Restaurant menu features classic diner starters like sweet potato fries and onion rings as well as heaps of fresh battered seafood. You can also choose from a wide selection of burgers, sandwiches, pastas, and steaks.

After you get your fill of books and grub, discover some of the Nutmeg State’s other unique destinations like Zaffis Museum of the Paranormal in Stratford or the ruins of abandoned religious theme park Holy Land USA in Waterbury. And if you visit the state capital, Hartford, don’t miss John Steward’s Museum of Natural and Other Curiosities located in the Old State House building.

New Jersey: Batsto Village

Think ghost towns are only found out west? Take a short drive from the glitz and grime of Atlantic City to discover a village lost in time. Batsto was founded in 1687 and developed throughout the 18th and 19th centuries as an iron-working community. Batsto was an important part of securing America’s independence, supplying the Continental Army with iron ore.

Over time, the industry waned, and the last resident moved out in 1989. Now the village is open to the public, and visitors can wander about and observe more than 40 intact historical structures.

If you don’t get your ghost town fix in Batsto, head up the New Jersey Turnpike to Berkeley Heights to see the deserted village of Feltville. Just don’t take a wrong turn and end up in Valkenvania.

New Hampshire: Madison Boulder

New Hampshire rocks. Yes, we mean that literally. Take one look at the Madison Boulder in Madison and you are sure to agree.

The Madison Boulder is exactly what it sounds like, but you have to see it to believe it. The boulder measures 23 feet tall, 83 feet long and 37 feet wide. The giant boulder weighs 5,000 tons. It is the largest known “glacial erratic” in North America, meaning the boulder landed in its current position after being carried a far distance by melting glacial ice.

5 Best U.S. National Parks for Bird watching

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 Best U.S. National Parks for Bird watching

Even if you’re not a member of the Audubon Society, that doesn’t mean you can’t still appreciate the beautiful splendor of our feathered friends. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, more than 45 million Americans engaged in birdwatching in 2018. And if you’ve decided to go beyond your backyard to find new birds, then these five national parks are ideal havens for discovering birds in their natural habitat.

National Mall, Washington, D.C. — 260 species

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You might be surprised that a city-based park is home to so many birds. But the National Mall in the heart of the nation’s capital serves as a haven for 260 diverse species of birds, including numerous waterfowl. Its prime location next to the Potomac River attracts a variety of birds and acts as a seasonal home for migratory songbirds. While the National Mall doesn’t have the largest availability of diverse vegetation when compared to other National Parks, it does serve as a great option for spotting a large number of species in one day.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Gary, Indiana — 285 species

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Indiana Dunes National Park could serve as a two-in-one vacation. This park sits just at the southern base of Lake Michigan and is the location of numerous lakeside beaches. If you’ve had your fill of catching rays or opt to visit this national park during the off-season, birding is a very popular attraction.

In fact, this activity is so common that the park and nearby tour operators offer guided birding tours. If you time your trip to Indiana just right, you can stop by the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival in late May. This three-day event is hosted by the Indiana Audubon Society and focuses on conservation and education to preserve the area as a haven for local and migratory birds.

Death Valley National Park, California & Nevada — 375 species

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With a name like Death Valley, you probably imagine an inhospitable and barren wasteland. But the opposite is true. If you’re not familiar with this park, you might be surprised that it spans two states. Death Valley offers diverse habitats that include valleys, woodlands, and canyons. Because of this, this national park attracts a wide array of seasonal migratory and year-round bird species.

One of the most recognizable bird species is the Roadrunner. While it looks nothing like the purple and blue Looney Tunes cartoon version that outsmarts Wile E. Coyote, this bird is a year-round resident. Experts recommend that you traverse multiple habitats to increase your chances of spotting the largest variety of birds.

Gateway National Recreation Area, New York & New Jersey — 375 species

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Gateway National Recreation Area is yet another national park that straddles multiple states, this time New York and New Jersey. The park is a critical home for birds, many of which are on the threatened or endangered list like the piping plover. It is located within the Atlantic Flyway, a main north-south pathway that birds follow during seasonal migration patterns.

Gateway features three major units: Sandy Hook, Jamaica Bay, and Staten Island. Advanced birders will usually prefer Jamaica Bay because it serves as a refuge for more difficult-to-spot birds. The park even offers a special birding field guide that highlights 12 of the more popular species guests will see.

Everglades National Park, Florida — 280 species

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Most people know that the Everglades is an extremely diverse biosphere, and not just for birds. This watery reserve offers nine unique birding spots perfect for discovering feathered friends that can be divided into three main categories: wading birds, land birds, and birds of prey.

Some of the most common species include the white ibis and the wood stork, along with numerous species of egrets and herons. This park is a popular attraction for birders from around the world. Should you choose to go birdwatching at Everglades National Park, be sure to use their interactive checklist.

While bird watching is a popular pastime at pretty much every national park in the U.S., this is a great list of places to get you started. If there’s a particular bird that you have in mind and want to see in real life, be sure to use the Audubon Society’s interactive bird guide on their site for detailed information about specific species and maps of where to find them.

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