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Has Westfield Man Created Most Outrageous N.J. Map Ever?

Or does Joe Steinfeld's creation accurately, if irreverently, capture the Garden State's diversity?

You won't find the latest map of New Jersey in your nearest convenience store. Instead, you will find it trending on Facebook news feeds and online forums.

Joe Steinfeld, a 22-year old Rutgers graduate, claims authorship of the edgy, "tongue-in-cheek" map, which subdivides the Garden State into social, financial and ethnic realms. In less than 24 hours it has gone viral.

"I made it on Monday, Nov. 5. I posted it to the r/newjersey section of Reddit.com (click to see the map) hoping to get some comments and start a conversation. It wasn't until I logged onto Facebook on Tuesday morning and was greeted by dozens of notifications that I saw it had completely gone viral," Steinfeld said.

Steinfeld is a Westfield native, and currently works for the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, monitoring preserved lands and maintaining trails. He also works with the Geographic Information Systems, making maps of preserves and researching resource conservation.

"I've been all around the state and have met plenty of people from all corners of New Jersey, and noticing all the differences in cultures and demographics informed my mapmaking," he said. "It also helped that when going to Rutgers University, I made friends with people from all over the state and got to hear stories from where they grew up, what it was like, who lives where in the state, and how in such a small area exists so many different kinds of people."

Although Steinfeld uses some controversial wording in his map, he said the image has mostly been looked at as a humorous take on New Jersey.

"Oh, plenty of people have been chiming in, pointing out my inaccuracies, but for the most part, it's been met with laughter and praise," he said. "So far, I haven't received any [negative feedback], so I feel pretty confident. I didn't mean to offend any one group in particular, and for the most part, people have understood that it's meant to be funny."

After a few hours of searching Google Maps and using Photoshop to fill in a blank map of the state, Steinfeld has created a piece of internet gold, for better or worse.

Steinfeld did say some areas of the state were too small to fit a map of that scale, so some areas are generalized, particularly in the northeast.

"I wanted to make it a tongue-in-cheek 'subjective' map of the state, and hoped not to offend anyone, and I feel like I did a good job," he said.

Al McDorman December 13, 2011 at 04:58 PM
Anyone who has driven and worked throughout New Jersey and seen the communities from the vantage point of mostly WAWA and QUICKCHECK coffee stops (as well as a particular off-brand coffee stop in Leonardo) knows EXACTLY where Joe is coming from. For better or worse, that IS how NJ comes off by first impressions. Take it for what it is.
wmontmom December 13, 2011 at 08:12 PM
Yet again we have public sector employees in the crosshairs, lifting them up and tearing them down in the same breath. Isn't it strange how we demand such high standards of them, higher than we do of private sector employees, and then reward them by taking aim at their salaries, benefits, pensions, etc. If the guy worked for Goldman Sachs where would the outrage be? He's working for a fraction of a fraction of the salaries of his classmates who went into banking, finance, corporate, etc. He's clearly a bright kid who is now working to improve the state he grew up in and stayed in for college... I think it's clear there was no malicious intent. I think he has a great sense of humor as well as an obvious affection for his home state and I think all the critics should go buy themselves a few tubes of Preparation H and Ben-Gay.
Adam Charney December 14, 2011 at 05:04 PM
That would be "You're", not "Your"
Liz Kril December 14, 2011 at 06:47 PM
What I find offensive is people without a sense of humor. Laughter is food for the soul.
Elcaballito December 16, 2011 at 06:25 AM
The stuck up ppl complaining about the map r just dumb & angry that they weren't smart enough to make it themselves. Every1 Thats offended just needs 2get laid, maybe that will help!

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