Monday, April 22, 2013
1 to 5 p.m.
Camden, New Jersey, is one of the poorest cities in the United States. Devastated by deindustrialization and undermined by suburban sprawl, the city’s population has declined by nearly 40 percent since the 1950s. The city is littered with vacant buildings and empty trash-filled lots. The city’s murder rate has escalated and the poverty rate has increased to 42.5 percent – the highest of any city in the United States with more than 65,000 inhabitants.
Political corruption is associated with many previous redevelopment efforts, but the certain parts of the city are experiencing positive changes associated with the growth of Rutgers–Camden, Cooper Hospital, and other anchor institutions. The city’s waterfront on the Delaware River has been totally redeveloped, and now hosts an aquarium, a thriving music venue, and several museums. Yet many of the city’s residential neighborhoods seem untouched by these changes.
The Challenge of Camden conference will address the poverty of Camden in the context of its region. Camden is an exemplar of the ills that plague many American cities from Baltimore to Los Angeles and from Chicago to San Antonio. Given the advanced state of disinvestment and urban blight in Camden, it provides an object lesson in the cost to the larger society of ignoring the plight of the inner city. At the same time, the successful redevelopment of Camden would provide a stunning counterexample and roadmap to the nation as it strives to confront endemic issues of inner-city poverty.