New Jersey might be known for Bruce, Bon Jovi, and MTV’s Jersey Shore, but there was actually a time that the King of All Media himself and the newest judge on America’s Got Talent, Howard Stern, was also the talk of the state. Many years after Howard hosted his own late night TV show in the ’80s on Secaucus NJ’s WWOR channel 9, Howard popped up in another part of Jersey, but in a quite different capacity. Although Howard will forever be associated with New York radio, he’s also etched in the history of a New Jersey rest stop.
While on the air speaking with then-candidate for Governor of NJ, Christie Todd Whitman, Howard half jokingly said he’d endorse her campaign if she dedicated a rest stop to him in Jersey. Whitman wound up getting elected in 1994, and on March 19th, 1995, there indeed was a plaque installed at the rest stop on I-295 in honor of Stern. On the plaque was a cartoonish picture of Stern popping his head out of an outhouse in the Burlington, NJ rest stop. It was stolen merely days later. Just finding a picture of the infamous plaque on the Internet proved to be quite a challenge. (I finally found it thanks to The Jersey Shore Mom!)
The shock jock’s rest stop quickly became seedy. Stern named the rest stop after a segment on his show, the “Show Us Your Tits Scenic Overlook.” Motorists were using the bathrooms at the rest area for sex and who knows what else. Gee, what a surprise! In 2003, Governor McGreevy ordered the rest area to be shut down to save up to $1 Million dollars in operating costs. But it was most likely because of the backlash of people who thought the sexual escapades going on there were indecent. McGreevy later came out of the closet and actually admitted to engaging in sex acts at rest stops in New Jersey.
Since then the area was locked up and all toilets were removed from the premises. As the years passed the rest stop became neglected and started to decay, but it hasn’t been forgotten.
As of 2010, when this AP article was published on NJ.com, rumors were flying that the state was thinking of selling the naming rights of all of our rest stops to large companies. This revenue could add up to over a $1 million dollars a year or more.