Saturday, June 4, 2011

PBurg's Got the Blues--What's Their Story?

The town is having its 150th day parade today on S. Main Street at 2pm. Hopefully some Eastonians will walk over after the farmers market and give PBurg some love!

Posted by: Noël Jones

Phillipsburg, NJ is a "Neighbor of Easton" if there ever was one. The only thing separating our towns, and our states, is the Delaware River and a two-minute stroll over the "free bridge" from Easton. On Heritage Day in July, hundreds of residents from Easton and PBurg flow onto the bridge and meet in the middle to watch the fireworks over the river. Like Easton, PBurg has a lot of historic character. Cool old Victorian houses perch along a cliffside with sweeping views of the rivers and of Easton's downtown. Sometimes I like to get breakfast at Cafe Verde across the river, because aside from the food being really good, the view of Easton across the water on a sunny day reminds me that I live in a very special place. I also like stopping in at the chocolate shop across the street. I still have never taken the steam train, but I want to try to do the winery tour this year.

But like Easton, PBurg has suffered economically over the years, and has some of the same evidence in
its walkable downtown, in the occasional blighted building or empty storefront. I haven't met a lot of people from PBurg, but when I have, it is usually disaffected 20 and 30-somethings, who have come across the bridge to hang out in Easton. I have met young poets and musicians and their friends, and they all say the same thing when I ask them where the good places to go in PBurg are--they say, "Easton." And I say, no really, I want to hang out in PBurg sometime, where's a cool place to hang out, get a beer, hear some music? And they say, "Easton." And that makes me sad, because every town should have its own cool places to go have fun. And I can't imagine why anyone hasn't opened any.

In this Express-Times article by Sarah Wojcik, the mayor seems to be predict a big turnaround for PBurg, but he doesn't seem to have any concrete reasons for why he thinks it's going to happen, and the people aren't buying it. Apparently the community is told every few years that they are going to get a new high school, but it hasn't happened yet. And they keep getting told that the old Ingersoll-Rand property is going to get developed by outside investors (which sounds kind of like our old Simon Silk Mill in Easton) but they never come. There seems to be a general lament of insufficient marketing of the steam train, which should be a great tourist attraction for the town, and accusations expressed in the comments to the article that the city government is in the poverty business, something we hear residents grumbling about here in Easton regularly. Considering that our neighbor shares the Delaware with us, is just a stone's-throw away and will get a passenger train stop before we do (if we ever do), why is PBurg suffering so much that it's young people don't even have any place to go have fun and be creative at night? I can only imagine that they must be experiencing a massive hemorrhaging of its youth. If Easton is lucky, maybe they'll just bleed across the bridge hang out with us in Easton, instead of running away to Philly and New York to get a taste of vitality. But then Easton has it's own challenges with retaining youth.

I'm interested to hear from residents on this--what do you think happened to PBurg, and what keeps it so? In the comments to the ET article, the "mafia" is mentioned twice in five comments. There are accusations that the mayor himself profits from renting out Section 8 properties, and the article gives a general sense that the city isn't doing enough to incentivize outside investors. I have always heard that Urban Renewal in the late 70s and early 80s is what destroyed Easton's thriving downtown--did the same happen to PBurg?  I'm especially interested to hear from PBurg residents on this...and please also post a comment also if you've seen any cool new fun places open up!

The town is having its 150th day parade today on S. Main Street at 2pm, and a lot of parking downtown will be closed off, so if you are close enough to walk to the parade, that sounds like the best bet. Hopefully some Eastonians will walk over after the farmers market and give PBurg some love!


Alan Raisman said...


I know that it was my fault for not reading the paper, but if you could post great events like this a day or two prior to the event date so readers can put it in our calendars, I would greatly appreciate it.

I hope you are enjoying Alaska!!

noel jones said...

I'll remember to do that the next time I'm on the Transbridge bus when the wi-fi is down from Easton to New York, or making my way through security at Laguardia, or flying at 35,000 feet, or trying to make a connection at O'Hare, or landing in Anchorage and figuring out transportation to Wasilla, Whittier and Kodiak from there.

I am on vacation, but the blog is not.Thanks for your heartfelt concern for my "readers" but by all means, feel free to start your own blog.This was posted the same day the news article came out. I trust you'll be calling the Express-Times next, to tell them how to do their job?

Anonymous said...

Wow Noel, you don't take constructive criticism very well do you? Talk about politicians, you aren't doing much better.

Aside from that, your article is filled with great thoughts. However, the former Ingersol-Rand plant in Phillipsburg is not like our Silk Mill. Our Silk Mill has 19th century charm, is ,located along a creek and now a wonderful trail and is perfect for mixed use. The IR plants greaterst asset is the large tract of land that it is on and that's what they should concentrate on - finding a developer to tear it down, develop housing and businesses.

Phillipsburg does have a lot going for it and you really should ride the steam train, I love it. Almost as good as our mule-drawn canal boat ride. Have you ridden the boat?

noel jones said...

Not yet--I've heard the canal boat ride is great--someone I know attended a party on the boat and said it was really beautiful, so I hope to get around to it one of these days.

And yes, you're right, I am no politician (as I have said many times before on this blog). I love constructive criticism but criticism is not constructive if it's really just meant to criticize without constructing. I can't post an article that hasn't already been posted in the paper while in Alaska. So saying I should have somehow with my Spidey Sense, known that PBurg was going to have a parade and should have gone over a couple days beforehand and so I could report on it before the Express-Times did and before leaving town, and then finish by saying, "Enjoy Alaska!" is neither constructive nor sincere, it's just scratching a compulsive itch to criticize.

I will be posting more later today--yesterday was whales, kayaks, sea otters, etc., far from wi-fi, heading back out on the boat today...I think I got video...we'll see...

Untouched Takeaway said...


I'm thinkin' Mr. Raisman meant no harm and probably didn't have any way to know your trip logistics.

Enjoy your trip and have an Alaskan Polar Bear Heater or 5 - I'll look forward to photos when you have the time.


Alan Raisman said...


I had no idea about the logistics of your trip. I was in Colorado last week speaking at a conference on town-gown relations, and I did not move in to my apartment in the Lehigh Valley until Saturday. I am sorry that you misread my comment.

As you know, I have been reading and commenting on this blog for a couple of years now. I started as a student at Lafayette College, and now I am a resident of Lehigh County. I will continue to read this blog because I still love Easton. And I will still comment because I was a registered voter in Easton for three years and was very active in the community.

My comment meant no harm, trust me. We may no longer be neighbors in Easton, but we are neighbors in the Lehigh Valley, and I will always consider you a friend for life.


noel jones said...

Readers, please note--Alan Raisman has figured out that niceness is my cryptonite. Well, that and dark chocolate.

Stay tuned for a bevy of posts in the next 24 hours--I'm on my way to Kodiak, so if I'm not eaten by the stuffed bear in the airport, I will be catching up soon!

By the way--did anyone go to the PBurg parade? How was it?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps individuals you harshly - and sometimes questionably - criticize should react to you the same way you reacted to Alan. It certainly didn't sound like he meant any harm or, how did you put, was scratching a compulsive itch to criticize.

noel jones said...

OK, this has started out as a post about PBurg and has turned into a post about criticism. So be it.

Here's how it goes--everyone is welcome to criticize, however, you should expect to get a response. I like constructive criticism, because it helps me do a better job--however--when someone ends a post by saying "I hope you're enjoying Alaska!" they clearly know that I'm in Alaska. So for the rest of the post to be a criticism of why I didn't cover a story in Pburg BEFORE the Express-Times, doesn't make a lot of sense, and therefore is not constructive. It has nothing to do with knowing the logistics of my trip, it has to do with not being able to resist the urge to criticize--which is fine, if someone really can't help themselves--but they should expect to have the mirror held up.

As for my criticism of public officials, this is not a propaganda blog that is meant to depict everyone constantly dancing around in the daisies arm-in-arm in The Land Where Everything is Great and Everyone Does A Great Job. I give credit where credit is due, and criticism where criticism is due.

And I'm fine with criticism where criticism is due on this blog--but you should expect to be responded to--to think otherwise would be silly.

I'll say one thing for Alan, Anon--at least he always owns his words and posts his name. I respect that.

ikindle said...

I believe that Pburg has the blues because its pretty obvious from driving down main street that a really good vinyl siding salesman came to town back in the day and convinced them to cover over many of their historic houses. I think the town would feel much better about itself if it restored some of those facades!

noel jones said...

hear, hear! i would love to see a sister-city campaign between Easton and Pburg to pull off all the vinyl siding.

Alan Raisman said...


I was not criticizing you; I was simply asking a question. I said at the start that it was my fault for not reading the paper. I am sorry that you read the comment differently than the way I meant it to read. I posted my last sentence because you are/were on vacation, and I truly meant that I want you to enjoy it. I have never been out that way, but the scenes I have seen of Alaska look beautiful! You posted twice on the blog after your initial post about you being away, so that was why I thought you would be as active as you usually are.

Please please please don't make me out to sound like I wanted to ruin your trip or anything of that nature. I simply asked a question of you. I did not know that the Express-Times did not report the story until that same day. The calendar I use to learn about Lehigh Valley events is, and this event was not on there.

Regarding Phillipsburg, I have visited several times while a student at Lafayette College. It is a very beautiful area. And as a photographer, I love it! (I walked across the bridge to Phillipsburg each year to grab pictures of the Riverside Festival of the Arts in Easton.) I wish Easton lit their street lights like Phillipsburg does during the winter months!

I know several residents in Phillipsburg, and they have always considered Easton and Phillipsburg to be great neighbors. I watched Mayor Panto and Mayor Wyant of Phillipsburg walk together in the HallowFest Parade two years ago. I also ate at Jimmy's on the Delaware several times with my college roommates.

I would love to see more Eastonians in Phillipsburg as well as more residents of Phillipsburg in Easton.

Twitter: @alanraisman

noel jones said...

Here is a link to the ET's article on the winners of the Pburg parade:

Anonymous said...

Noel keeps saying how can she expect to have reported the story before the Express-Times. In fairness, I think it should be pointed out that the Express reported the parade date several times. They had a front page story on May 31, a story about the logistics of holiday parking a few days before then, and then this story:

noel jones said...

thanks for the link, Anon. did you make it to the parade?

Easton Heights Blogger said...

the parade was poorly publicised on this side of the river; I drove down south main to get gas just before the parade was to start and it was quite embarrassing watching everyone sitting in their chairs staring at us! (I was stuck behind anothe PA resident going about 5mph!)
if I had the time I would have stayed, it looked to be a lot better than our lame memorial day parade.

noel jones said...

thanks for the review, EHB.