While it does not carry the force of law, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has declared that Central Jersey does exist.
Murphy, stealing a page from President Donald Trump on using social media to make pronouncements, issued his declaration on Twitter the same day that the Eagles played the New York Giants (and won in overtime) at Lincoln Financial Field.
Central Jersey, as anyone who lives there can tell you, is something of a dividing line between the fans of the two teams, with that part of the Garden State accommodating a mix of both in uneasy harmony.
It also differentiates the populations who call a particular breakfast meat made in Trenton either pork roll (south) or Taylor Ham (north).
On Tuesday, Murphy took it a step further and listed the counties that make up Central Jersey, a move that is likely to spark more debate than resolve it. (Union County in Central Jersey? We think not.)
While Murphy says the counties in Central Jersey are defined in law, no statue exists except, perhaps, in his heart of hearts.
The question seems to have weighed for some time on Murphy, a resident of Central Jersey’s Monmouth County along with Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, and Jon Stewart.
In an appearance on the Late Show With Stephen Colbert (a North Jersey resident) in June 2018, the governor spoke of Central Jersey in existential, but not geographic, terms.
“It’s a little bit of a mystical kingdom, kind of a Camelot,” Murphy told Colbert. “It’s in the mist, so you really have to sort of grasp it and live it. It’s not abstract. It’s there. I promise you.”
(Stewart, in the same segment, also declared Central Jersey a thing, but added that Philadelphia doesn’t exist and is a suburb of Delaware.)
Now, with a pair of tweets, he has made it an actual place, for at least as long as he is in office.
This is nothing new for New Jersey.
From colonial days, it has been divided. Then it was separated into the provinces of West Jersey and East Jersey. Ben Franklin once described it a “keg tapped at both ends” with the ale flowing to either Philadelphia or New York. Somewhere along the line, much of West Jersey became South Jersey, while East Jersey became the core of North Jersey.