Looking for the Common in the Different


Locating French Street can be ambiguous. There is not a definitive line that marks the street distinctly from Lincoln Highway. One possible marker to designate entry into the Street is the overhead train rails adjacent to the Fresh Grocer that creates an imaginative portal, or gateway, into a new community that is physically distant and largely distant from the Rutgers imagination. While seeming distant French Street has something to offer that is likely experienced in one’s own community or residence, on campus or away, near or far.


Traveling on French Street is like a period of adolescence–caught in a limbo that is not quite childhood or adulthood. Traveling you see names like Robert Wood Johnson and Rutgers affiliated names, but there is an foreboding or uneasy atmosphere created from being caught between the the recognizable and feeling of safety created by the familiar names in the Rutgers imagination and the anxiety and apprehension from occupying an unfamiliar space.

French Street is rich with businesses. Stores and shops offer many Hispanic and Latin ethnic choices.

IMG_0164[1]    IMG_0172[1]


If these options aren’t enticing you can go to a deli and bakery too.


However the Street is not just a place of businesses, but a place of home for some people.


A community is made of multiple people. Sometimes the people can enjoy each others company, and at other times community members may not, but a community does suggest an overarching theme or shared investment that triumphs differences and disagreements between people.


For some church and religion is the knot that ties a community together, and bring its members together despite members’ differences and anxieties. A church can be a marker of a community and the common threads and values that are held high in the community.

No matter the weather the Street is busy with cars and people. People have places to go and things to do. French Street is filled with continuous activity.


Is French Street really different from the an community we might be from or familiar with.


Large corporations can be found abundant across the States. Everyone needs similar goods and services. From cough syrup to candy bars these commodities can be in the nearest convenience store or the Walgreens down the road. Large chain stores remind us that we share a commonality in needed products, and a large chain store corporation can reminds us that while you may not be a member of a particular community the two share common needs.

French Street has homes, pharmacies, and grocery stores that provide for the needs of residences, but where do the children go to school?


While this school is for high school students and is a health science technology school that probably doesn’t serve all of the children living around or on French Street the building does show that French Street is not just a street of businesses, but it is a community that aims to provide the best opportunities for the young and old.

When walking back to campus you again see the familiar names and businesses that are associated with Rutgers and part of a collective imagination shared by students.

IMG_0201[1]  IMG_0200[1]

When leaving French Street and passing through the overhead train rails you might have physically left the Street and the community, but you aren’t the same person as before. Now you aware of a different world that isn’t too far away from you, and might just share something similar to your community, place of residence, on campus or away, or maybe you’ll find that French Street isn’t strange, or possibly dangerous, but a part of New Brunswick like Rutgers is just a part of the sum of New Brunswick.



One comment

  1. French Street reminds me a lot of downtown Paterson,NJ, a city not too far from where I live.There is a lot of stores and people in a relatively small area. I went to a store once at French Street, and I can feel that I stepped into a different world once I left the Rutgers campus. You can see so many different kinds of people and stores. But I agree with your last statement, French Street and the whole of New Brunswick makes Rutgers what it is today.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s