The Farm Journal Map

A persistent area of interest for me is cartography; the science of mapmaking. I have a substantial collection of maps (both printed and digital), including a few that I’ve made. However it’s historical maps which are often of the greatest interest, for those point out features which may be worth photographing (especially churches and railroad structures).

Rutgers University has an online resource for maps at the Rutgers Cartography Lab. One of the maps in the collection is a 1913 Farm Journal map of southern New Jersey.

1913 map south jersey from Rutgers
Clicking on map takes you to image source – which you can enlarge.

One quickly notices a proliferation of small red numbers labelling every road. What are these numbers?

To understand that, we have to think about the purpose of this map. It was published by the Farm Journal of Philadelphia, as a finder’s aid to go with their Directories. A directory was published for each county in the Farm Journal’s coverage region (which in 1913 comprised most of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland). For Gloucester County New Jersey, the corresponding directory is online in digital form at archive.org.

Once you see the directory, it becomes clear what the numbers are – they’re road numbers, similar to a modern [printed] map’s row-column index. In 1913 few roads outside of a town had names; and if they did, it was to name the endpoints (Williamstown-Glassboro Road) or a prominent feature (Alms House Road). Thus for a directory and map to be of any use, the publisher had to impose some form of organization.

To understand how this works in practice, an example is in order.

From the directory for Deptford Township, I’ve extracted this fragment, and highlighted one entry in yellow, two in light orange. In yellow, Chas Alley is a shoe cutter located near Almonesson on H19 (a road marked on the map). The orange highlights are for H33 near Blackwood.

farm-journal-deptford-hilite

Looking on the map, road 19 is quite visible as a segment just northeast of Almonesson; and road 33 is the stretch between Fairview and Blackwood.

farm-journal-map-hilite

The roads are numbered starting in the northwest corner of each township and ending in the southeast corner… or from upper-left to lower-right.

A tale of two states – comparing food prices

Yes, this is a post about supermarkets.

Fresh Market is an upscale market, concentrating on fresh food (wow!), trading on the organic foods fad… it competes with Whole Foods and Trader Joes on a national level. In the Northeast, Wegmans is also a competitor. Fresh Market is the closest store to my home, thus I’m very familiar with its prices on my basic food items.

In New Jersey, Fresh Market is definitely competitive with Kings, marginally competitive with the artisan products and meat counter at Wegmans, and radically out of line in any comparison to Shoprite, Stop-n-Shop, Acme, Walmart… (Can’t compare to Trader Joe or Whole Foods; don’t have them available at a reasonable distance).

But this is just in New Jersey. Recently I spent three weeks on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, and boy howdy was that an eye-opener! One afternoon I stopped in to the Fresh Market in Wilmington NC and found that many of the prices I’d complained about in NJ were the same in NC. And in North Carolina, Fresh Market is competitive – in many cases cheaper. I find it amazing that meat-counter bacon is lower-priced than prepackaged national brands, but that was the case in almost all comparisons.

At first, I thought this was just the usual “stick it to the beach tourists” markup so common in the area from May through October. So I checked some inland stores as well. Food Lion was the only real competitor price-wise, and the prices were consistent across all five stores I checked. Lowes Food is an oxymoron; it may be food but it’s certainly not Low(e) – the prices in two stores were higher than any price I’ve encountered in NJ. Harris-Teeter (three locations) were consistently higher; Piggly-Wiggly (three stores) is lower on staples but astronomical on meats.

Note that in New Jersey almost all foods are non-taxable (candy being the big exception in my experience) whereas North Carolina has the philosophy of “tax everything!”

Astounding.

(The market basket for comparisons: pint half-and-half, eight ounce hard cheese (Cabot), sixteen ounce cottage cheese (Daisy or Breakstone), pound bacon, pound ground chuck, salad package, pound fresh-ground peanut butter, pound lima beans (frozen), pound green beans (frozen), broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts).