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Thread: Dividing states into mini-regions

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Dividing states into mini-regions



    You stupid Americans – you are so provincial that 99% of you cannot even find Mexico or Canada on a map. You spend your days destroying delicate ecosystems riding your gas guzzling/polluting Hummers off-road, and spend your evenings eating supersized Big Macs and watching WWF wrestling on your Chinese-made televisions purchased at Wal-Mart. Here in Europe, though, most can speak six languages by the time they begin school (which they bicycle to and are fitter for it), and upon graduation will move to Switzerland to help construct the world’s first fusion generator…..

    I am both interested and amused by many foreigners’ perceptions of stereotypical Americans. Often we are perceived as a nation of: provincial cowboys, spoiled rich people, and uncultured rednecks. Undoubtedly, these perceptions are due in large part to the popularity of American movies and other mass media. Like most stereotypes, there is, however, a small kernel of underlying truth to it.

    Even in regional geography textbooks, though, it’s necessary to paint with wide brush strokes. Usually, the lower 48 states are broken into a half dozen or so regions, such as: New England, Mid Atlantic, Border states, Midwest, Deep South, Western, or Pacific Coast. These regions supposedly reflect something of the character of the areas, based on geographic, social/cultural, and economic factors. Much nuance and subtlety is missed in this. Some texts attempt to improve the situation by adding additional regions or sub-regions (Great Lakes, Plains, Southwest, Pacific northwest etc.) but still those are snapshots.

    The goal of this thread is to divide individual states you have some familiarity with into what you think are meaningful mini- or sub regions, which might convey a bit more nuance than the broad brushstrokes described above.

    Michigan –
    Region 1: the Upper Peninsula. Geographically isolated from rest of state. Historically, economy based on resource extraction. mining copper and iron, timber. Sparsely populated. Many of Finnish and Welsh ancestry.
    Region 2: northern Lower Peninsula. Also includes ‘thumb’ area. Forested area. Historically timber country. Agriculture and tourism are most important economic activities. Sparsely populated.
    Region 3: southeastern LP. Encompasses the greater Detroit area. Extends as far west as Ann Arbor. Historically, one of the most industrialized areas in the country. Industry still prevalent, but has significantly diminished. Many European immigrants from a century ago. Significant African American populations in urban core areas.
    Region 4: southern LP. Encompasses area from Muskegon to Saginaw and extending to the Indiana and Ohio borders. Mixed economy.

    How would you divide the sub-regions in your state? If you are familiar with an area, feel free to add your own sub-regions to states already posted by others if you feel it conveys more detail.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Agree with Maister on his Michigan details. I would include Saginaw-Midland-Bay City in the SE mini-region, though, because of their historical ties to heavy industry that blossomed in metro Detroit.

    Ohio

    Government & Distribution Region
    Primarily Columbus, due to high concentration of state government offices and a significant number of distribution (location, location, location) centers. The area also is home to sig research and includes one of the largest universities in the USA. For what it is worth, the area also has a large corporate office building that is shaped like a wooden basket.

    Coal Foothills
    From south of Canton, most of SE Ohio is gently rolling, pockmarked with numerous coal fields (some still active), much timber, very little industry. More akin to Appalachia than the other areas of Ohio.

    Roebling
    SW Ohio, esepcially the Greater Cincinnati Metro, is strongly German-influenced, with (especially in the last 30 years) very strong ties to northern Kentucky's Cincinnati suburbs. The area has a host of manufacturing plants, including a fair number that do work for the Defense Department. You would be surpised at the accent of most folks who live in Cincy.

    North Shore
    Stretching from Port Clinton to the Pennsylvania border, Ohio's North Shore includes many lakefront cities, including powerhouse Cleveland. Heavy manufacturing (especially steel), thousands of small manufacturing plants, Federal government facilities, and Lake Erie shore tourism dot the area from west to east.

    South Michigan
    Fans of Ohio will shudder at my description for NW Ohio. Truth is, this area (especially Metro Toledo) is so much like a small version of Detroit. Michigan's big metro and Metro Toledo both have.....

    World-class art museums.
    An active tie to bulk shipping on the Great Lakes.
    Riverfront downtowns.
    Automobile and automobile parts manufacturing.
    Numerous Fortune 500 headquarters that remain.
    Numerous Fortune 500 headquarters that are gone.
    Regional medical centers.
    Many unemployed.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I'd tie it to a much larger region that would ignore state boundaries. Include Toronto at one end and the Chicago burbs at the other. To the N, I would agree with Bear that Saginaw would be where it ends, with its sister Bay City being the heart of the agricultural (sugar beets and corn) belt that would include the thumb and the rest of the Saginaw Valley; which extends to the northwoods which would begin around Gladwin/West Branch area. To the South I would push it to include the small industrial cities in Ohio of Marysville and East Liberty where Honda has set up some very large manufacturing sites, maybe even include Cleveland, Erie and Buffalo.

    The west side of the state would have a new region starting just N of I-94 which would be a fruit belt.
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  4. #4
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Concerning my 'Region 3' (greater Detroit) classification, I struggled a bit with that and seriously considered extending it as suggested up to Saginaw. I could definitely see how Flint shares more than a few economic and social characteristics with Detroit...but I was reluctant to include Saginaw/Bay City in the region because culturally, it has more in common with, say, Lansing than Detroit. Similarly, I considered including Windor in the region as well, for economic reasons, but again concluded that culturally, there are too many differences to include it.

    I agree that Toledo, though, should definitely be included in that region.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Illinois:

    Chicagoland (Includes north of I-80 and east of I-39): Higher population density, toll roads, strong ties to Chicago sports teams. Some farmland, heavy industry, sprawling suburbs and exurbs

    Central Illinois: I-80 corridor south to I-70, Farms, farms and more farms. Pockets of higher population (Champaign/Urbana, Peoria, Quad Cities, Springfield, Decatur). Looks like most of the Midwest, ties to Chicago, St. Louis and to some extent Indianapolis sports teams.

    Southern Illinois: I-70 and south, sparsely populated (except for Metro-East area of St. Louis). Farmland closer to I-70, with heavy forests and hills further south. Most economically depressed region of the state. Closer ties to the Midsouth than the Midwest (especially as you travel closer to the Ohio River). Most of this region is closer in distance to Memphis than Chicago.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Texas
    • The Valley - Not really a valley, but is the southernmost area bordering Mexico at the mouth of the Rio Grande. Predominantly Hispanic, impoverished, with border trade, ranching, and agriculture as main industry.
    • South Texas - Region between Victoria to Corpus Christi to Laredo, to Kerrville to New Braunfels. Heavy Hispanic influence, but also large military presence. This region was the center of Texas civilization from it's initial founding until shortly after the Texas War for Independence. San Antonio dominates the regional economy.
    • Central Texas - From San Marcos to Killeen to Waco, back over through College Station area and back. Includes Austin and the Hill Country. Heavily agricultural (farming east of I-35, ranching west of I-35), except for Austin, which is mainly a government, tech, and cultural center. Heavily conservative, possibly the most traditional conservative area in the state (minus Austin, although areas immediately surrounding Austin including many suburbs are included), and anti-cosmopolitan (including Austin).
    • South Coast - Energy industry and Houston. Includes the coastal plain from Baytown to the Louisiana border, goes north up to the Woodlands and possibly Conroe. Everything is exaggeratively big, from architecture to signs to freeways to mentality. Development is somewhat haphazard, despite the vast amount of wealth in the region. Houston has a pretty good international flair to it, what with the energy industry, major regional foreign consulates, and immigration.
    • East Texas - East of Dallas and I-45. Heavy pine forests predominate the region, and culturally the area is heavily deep south-like, including social status and etiquette (and rednecks).
    • North Texas - Dallas-Fort Worth and environs, including up to Oklahoma Border and as far west as Abilene and Wichita Falls. Probably the most cosmopolitan region in Texas. Dallas tries so hard to be East Coast-like, but ultimately is reminded often it of it's geography. Heavy immigration, but even heavier inmigration from other US cities and a lot of the "brain drain" facing the Great Plains states wind up in Dallas. Very well balanced and diverse economy, somewhat vanilla culture.
    • West Texas - the Llano Estacado and the Permian Basin region. Starts roughly near Abilene and ends when you hit the mountains near Pecos. Main cities include Lubbock, Midland-Odessa, and San Angelo. There's a lot of groundwork for the energy industry, but there's also a heavy ranching influence (largely governed by proximity to Midland-Odessa). Gruff lifestyle, and possibly the flattest landscape I've ever seen. Good hunting, though.
    • Panhandle - North of Lubbock, surrounded by New Mexico and Oklahoma. This region fits in culturally more with the Great Plains than the rest of Texas. It's sparsely settled, and aside from some aquifer-fed well irrigated farming it's primarily ranchland. There are some breathtaking riverine canyons carved into the landscape, including the second large canyon in the US (Palo Duro Canyon). Amarillo is the main hub.
    • Trans-Pecos/Far-West Texas - Mountainous desert region from Big Bend to El Paso. Extremely sparsely settled, with more of a Southwestern culture. Heavy Mexican influence, heavily isolated. El Paso is really the only major city in this region, as is technically closer to Los Angeles than it is to Beaumont. This seems to be the Texas that golden-age Hollywood liked to portray as all of Texas in westerns.

    Oklahoma
    Oklahoma's regionalism is actually summed up pretty well by the state's tourism department at the following link (albeit sometimes in a romanticized way):
    http://www.travelok.com/cities/list.asp
    Last edited by TexanOkie; 14 Dec 2009 at 11:48 AM.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Several years ago I worked in a city that crossed into three counties. One of the biggest challenges we faced was that the state had several administrative regions that followed county lines. We were in two DOT regions, two DNR regions, three labor regions, etc. I thought it would be much more useful to create regions based either on some natural or economic region. Watersheds were one possibility that made some sense.

    For the state of Wisconsin I would think:
    1. Borderlands - Racine and Kenosha are within the sphere of both Chicago and Milwaukee.
    2. Milwaukee and Suburban
    3. Kettle Country - The Kettle Moraine is a dominant landscape feature stretching north-south across the state. This is farm country dotted with several modest cities with a strong manufacturing sector.
    4. Madison - a region unto itself
    5. The Driftless Zone - steep hills, narrow valleys, pastures, farms, small brooks, hardwood forests - this is the most beautiful part of the state, taking up its southwestern quarter.
    6. Fox Valley - a largely urban concentration of manufacturing cities like Appleton, Menasha, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, capped by Green Bay.
    7. Northeastern Lakeshore - farm country and small cities stretching along Lake Michigan up to the Door Penninsula
    8. The Northwoods - tourism and logging.

    Colorado also has its regions:
    1. The Plains - endless rolling hills devoid of trees, with small agricultural towns
    2. Northern Front Range - Denver and north along the eastern slope of the Rockies
    3. Southern Front Range - south of Denver, including Colorado Springs and Pueblo, has a much different character.
    4. Ski Country - Through the heart of the Rockies on I-70, including Vail.
    5. Southern Mountains - The southern rockies are different than further north. This area has towns like Salida and Pagosa Springs, and transitions to New Mexican culture.
    6. Southwest/Four Corners - here you find the canyons, pinyon pine and juniper, and cliff dwellings you expect from Utah or Arizona.
    7. Northwest - until recently there was nothing much happening here, but there has been an oil/gas boom. It is mostly smaller mountains, more arid, and lightly settled.
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Florida:

    NE/Jacksonville metro-close to southern GA, very southern in culture, big shipping and logistics hub due to port and intersection of I-95 & I-10. Very working class and many business/professional offices. Lots of timber/pine farms and livestock.

    North Central Florida-Gainesville/Ocala-still southern, but mixed the the college culture created by UF and the horse farms in Ocala, no large metros in the area, mostly rural/farmland. The Villages a large retirement community is in-between this area and orlando, mostly midwestern retirees.

    Central Florida-Orlando metro-highly transient population because of housing/snow birds/tourism. Includes the coast from Ormond Beach to Melbourne and inland from Deland/Deltona down to the Lakeland area. High latin american/hispanic population especially Puerto Rican and Mexican in Orlando-metro. Some orange groves on the outskirts.

    Tampa metro-like Orlando area, highy transient population, but more coast line, so less tourism, more snow birds. Includes Spring Hill down to Bradenton-ish area east to Lakeland.

    SW Florida-high growth with lots of midwestern transplants, includes Sarasota-Cape Coral-Naples

    South Florida (West Palm Beach-Ft. Lauderdale-Miami) high growth area with a mix New England (especially NYers) transplants, Latin American 1st, 2nd and 3rd generations, and the wealthy. Lots of influence from Cuba and Puerto Rico and other countries/territories in Latin America. The inland part of this has lots of livestock and orange groves closer to the Everglades.

    As a sub area-I'd include the Vero-PSL-Jupiter area as a retirement/snowbird area with more affordable housing than South Florida. Lot of farmland including orange groves.

    Keys-tourism, fishing, relaxation. Mostly vacation homes and those who choose to live in the Conch Republic. Very removed from the South Florida area culturally as KW is 3 hours from Miami.

    I'll leave the Panhandle for other Cyburbians more familiar than I.
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  9. #9
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    I'm dying of curiosity to see how native or 'naturalized' Californians divide up the state. I'm also very curious to hear about how folks from small states that many of us would tend to think of in more or less homogenous terms might divide up their states.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    New York is of course divided into Upstate and Downstate. The boundaries really depend on who you ask. Some would probably say Westchester is upstate while others would be a little more generous.

    New York also has a Southern Tier, the counties along the Pennsylvania border (the straight part, once the Delaware River is the boundary I think that is part of the Catskill region). In addition New York is divided into Western, Central and Eastern regions.

  11. #11
    Mississippi and be divided into 2, possibly 3 areas. The northern part or the delta from the Tennessee line to Jackson. The delta is very agricultural, flat and rural. From Jackson south, it's more rolling hills and pine forrest. The 3rd part would be from H'burg down to the coast. This area is more influenced by new orleans and Louisiana.

    Indiana is 3 different states rammed into 1. The northern part is more urban amd goes as far south as Marion. The winters are colder and snowier. There was more and heavier, industry. The cental part from south of Marion down to Seymore. More agricultural and centered around Indianapolis. The southern part, from Seymore down to Kentucky. It has a more rolling landscape and is rural until you get down near Louisville and Evansville.
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  12. #12
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I think Arizona can go two ways...
    What everyone thinks:
    Region 1
    Phoenix
    Region 2
    The rest of the state

    Or we could just use our geography and break it down to
    Desert (Phoenix/Tucson) - also normal people

    Mountain (Flagstaff/Prescott) - hippies and ex-Californians

    Plateau (aka The Res.) - mostly Indian lands.
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post
    Mississippi and be divided into 2, possibly 3 areas. The northern part or the delta from the Tennessee line to Jackson. The delta is very agricultural, flat and rural. From Jackson south, it's more rolling hills and pine forrest. The 3rd part would be from H'burg down to the coast. This area is more influenced by new orleans and Louisiana.

    You left out the northeast "hill country." Essentially, Jackson north, east of I-55.
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  14. #14
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dvdneal View post
    I think Arizona can go two ways...
    What everyone thinks:
    Region 1
    Phoenix
    Region 2
    The rest of the state

    Or we could just use our geography and break it down to
    Desert (Phoenix/Tucson) - also normal people

    Mountain (Flagstaff/Prescott) - hippies and ex-Californians

    Plateau (aka The Res.) - mostly Indian lands.
    I would break up AZ a little differently.
    First you have the State of Maricopa which is the Phoenix Metro Region with the northern parts of Pinal County.

    Second the Tucson Metro area.

    Third Pinal County in between Phoenix and Tucson.

    Fourth the Mining region. This goes from Globe/Miami all the way south to Safford.

    Fifth The Board region from Yuma to the New Mexico Boarder.

    Sixth- The Colorado River Valley starting in Parker and heading all the way up to Nevada

    Seventh- The Northern area starting with Prescott up to Flagstaff and grabbing Winslow, Sedona, Chino Valley etc.

    Eight The Navajo and Hopi tribal areas.
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  15. #15
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Yeah.....

    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    I would break up AZ a little differently.
    First you have the State of Maricopa which is the Phoenix Metro Region with the northern parts of Pinal County.

    Second the Tucson Metro area.

    Third Pinal County in between Phoenix and Tucson.

    Fourth the Mining region. This goes from Globe/Miami all the way south to Safford.

    Fifth The Board region from Yuma to the New Mexico Boarder.

    Sixth- The Colorado River Valley starting in Parker and heading all the way up to Nevada

    Seventh- The Northern area starting with Prescott up to Flagstaff and grabbing Winslow, Sedona, Chino Valley etc.

    Eight The Navajo and Hopi tribal areas.
    In my few years in Arizona, it seems to me this place on first glance can be broken into three regions:
    West- Arizona West Coast/Colorado River
    Central- Flagstaff to Mexico (Phoenix and Tucson) Not acceptable to U of A and ASU grads to be lumped into one region!!!
    East- Places East of Phoenix/Tuscon/Flagstaff and Navajo Nation

    or more realistically based on geography and topography:

    North- Elevated Areas, GC, Flagstaff/Navajo Nation and I-40 corridor
    Central- Phoenix/Tucson and I-10 corridor
    South- Border Areas

    Colorado in general was West Slope, East Slope and Plains with the San Luis Valley included as West Slope from a social perception standpoint.

    Virginia- Northern Virginia and then Everywhere else

    Florida- This place has a ton of fiefdoms when in reality it's West and East Coast and North vs. South (I hope ZG goes easy on me)

    California- Makes my head hurt just thinking about the balkanization of this state...

    Utah, N.D., R.I.- I see these states as one region for a variety of reasons....no division needed

    Wyoming- Northwest Jackson/Yellowstone and then Everywhere else
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Montana is already divided into western and eastern Montana.

    Western Montana: growing in population, higher incomes than in the eastern part of the state, tending to have more Democrats, more liberal but Flathead County is very conservative, more urban and becoming less rural.

    Eastern Montana: very rural, lower population, some counties are losing population, very agriculturally-oriented and natural resource-oriented, conservative.

    You might also add: Missoula, because natives will tell you it isn't Montana. Very urban, young and liberal with a large population of people who moved there from other states.
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  17. #17
    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    I'm dying of curiosity to see how native or 'naturalized' Californians divide up the state. I'm also very curious to hear about how folks from small states that many of us would tend to think of in more or less homogenous terms might divide up their states.
    Did you make my day by asking:

    Massachusetts:

    Merrimack Valley
    North Shore
    South Shore
    Greater Boston
    Southeastern mass
    Cape and the Islands
    Central Mass
    Pioneer Valley
    The Berkshires

    All that in a state with only 6 million people and 5,000 or so square miles.

    I think even Rhode Islanders divide up their state into:

    Providence
    Newport and the coast
    The rest of the state

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    I'm dying of curiosity to see how native or 'naturalized' Californians divide up the state......
    As a native, I'll take a shot. From north to south, west to east.

    The Great Emerald Northwest. From the Oregon border to the Golden Gate Bridge, including the Coast Range.

    The Greater Bay Area. From The Bridge, including the East Bay and extending south to include Santa Cruz and San Benito counties.

    The Central Coast. From Monterey County, including the Coast Range, to about Ventura County.

    The South Coast. Including the Los Angeles Basin, San Diego to the Mexico boarder, including the Sultan Sea to Riverside.

    The Siskiyou. That area between The Great Emerald Northwest and The Great Modoc.

    The Big Valley. From north of Red Bluff to the Tehachapi Mountains, also known as the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys--but it's one valley.

    The Great Modoc. Northeast California including Goose Lake, Alturas, and as far south as Susanville. Ugliest part of the state, IMHO.

    The Sierra Nevada. What else can I say?

    The Mojave Desert. From east of Riverside to the Nevada and Arizona boarders.

    There are so many sub-regions... Weigh in partners.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983 View post
    New York is of course divided into Upstate and Downstate. The boundaries really depend on who you ask. Some would probably say Westchester is upstate while others would be a little more generous.

    New York also has a Southern Tier, the counties along the Pennsylvania border (the straight part, once the Delaware River is the boundary I think that is part of the Catskill region). In addition New York is divided into Western, Central and Eastern regions.
    Oh, come on, there is a lot more than that. This is the problem with the term 'upstate.' Unless you live in New York, you may not realize, for example, that the distance between Albany and Buffalo is greater than the distance between Albany and Boston! For starters, we have:

    The Adirondacks
    Capital Region
    Mohawk Valley
    Lower Hudson Valley
    The Catskills
    Finger Lakes
    Syracuse area
    Rochester area
    Southern Tier
    Western NY
    Long Eye-land
    NYC

  20. #20
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
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    I'll take a stab at Virginia, which aside from the metro areas is very much defined by the terrain.

    Northern Virginia (Prince William, Fairfax, Arlington; parts of Loudoun, Fauquier, Stafford)
    Richmond and 'burbs
    Hampton Roads/Norfolk/VaBeach
    Shenandoah Valley
    New River Valley/Roanoke Valley
    Cumberland Plateau
    Upper Piedmont (Charlottesville and north)
    Lower Piedmont (south of Charlottesville)
    The Peninsulas
    Lower Tidewater (everything between I95 and Hampton Roads)
    Eastern Shore
    Process and dismissal. Shelter and location. Everybody wants somewhere.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    I will take Tenn.

    1. Memphis / metro area
    2. West Tennessee (M. River to Nashville metro area, minus Memphis metro area)
    3. Nashville / metro area
    4. Middle Tenn (south of Nashville metro area, and west to Cookeville)
    5. East Tenn (east of Cookeville, south to Chatta-vegas, and the Knox-vegas area)
    6. The Tri-Cities area / aka Far East Tenn (Johnson City/Bristol/Kingsport area)

    Did I miss any?
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  22. #22
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by beach_bum View post
    South Florida (West Palm Beach-Ft. Lauderdale-Miami) high growth area with a mix New England (especially NYers) transplants...
    Whoa! New York is not part of New England. It never has been and never will be!

    That being said, North Carolina is divided up into:

    Outer Banks (series of barrier islands along the coast)
    Research Triangle (Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh)
    Piedmont Triad (Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem)
    Metrolina (Charlotte area)
    The Mountains (Asheville, Boone, etc.)
    Northeastern and Southeastern NC also get some use

  23. #23
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    I think even Rhode Islanders divide up their state into:

    Providence
    Newport and the coast
    The rest of the state
    Actually, we use:

    Blackstone Valley
    Providence metro
    Bristol County
    East Bay
    West Bay
    South County

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    Georgia

    The great over-simplification:

    1. Atlanta
    2. The rest of the state


    Slightly less over-simplified:

    1. Atlanta*
    2. South Georgia
    3. Coastal Georgia
    4. The Fall Line
    5. The Independent State of Savannah
    6. North Georgia

    *Atlanta can be subdivided into ITP and OTP (inside/outside the perimeter)


    The way the state divides its regions for planning purposes:

    Last edited by Bubba; 15 Dec 2009 at 9:17 AM.
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  25. #25
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    Actually, we use:

    Blackstone Valley
    Providence metro
    Bristol County
    East Bay
    West Bay
    South County
    Other states would call those "neighborhoods."

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