Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Donovan Rypkema, consultant for Main Street U.S.A. and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, visited Woodbury last July, 2011 to assist in the city's ongoing revitalization efforts. Having visited 2500 downtowns across the globe, Rypkema is considered a downtown redevelopment expert of sorts (Scott, 2011). His subsequent presentation assured city officials and residents that there is hope, that our downtown is not a hotbed of criminal activity as some are lead to believe, but that there did indeed exist a “culture of incivility." Foul language, public urination, obnoxious behavior, etc., all things that drive away potential businesses and their prospective patrons, are present in our downtown area. Rypkema's solution is one of no-tolerance; the good citizens of Woodbury need to take a stand and confront/report any and all unacceptable social behavior.

I often seem to rose-tint Woodbury's Victorian-era past here on the blog, but the truth is, similar problems existed even during Woodbury's heyday. One needs only to peruse a turn-of-the-century copy of the Woodbury Daily Times (now the Gloucester County Times) to illustrate this point. But things were a little different back then and law enforcement at the time could get away with more "direct" behavioral modification techniques, i.e. punishment. Take, for example, Woodbury's solution for their "culture of incivility" problem in 1904, transcribed here from a Philadelphia Inquirer article for your enjoyment....

Woodbury’s Effective Way of Ridding a Nuisance
Special to The Inquirer.
     WOODBURY, N. J., March 29. – The city authorities are trying another experiment in ridding the community of the tramp nuisance. The dozen or so of this gentry who were “run in” a few nights ago were put to work on the streets this morning, much against their will.
Water Superintendent Wilmer and Assistant Ford took the men out on Evergreen avenue this morning and set the gang to work with pick and shovel digging trenches for the extension of water mains. The men worked like Trojans after being told that thirty days would be added for refusal. All of them declared they will be glad to get away and steer clear of Woodbury in the future.

Scott, R., (2011, July 13). Consultant: Start small with downtown woodbury revitalization and big things will happen. Gloucester County Times. Retrieved from http://www.nj.com/gloucester-county/index.ssf/2011/07/consultant_start_small_with_do.html
Put the tramps to work: Woodbury's effective way of ridding a nuisance. (1907, March 30). Philadelphia Inquirer, p. 4.