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.