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New Yorkers: what does "upstate" include?

Maister

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Question posed EXCLUSIVELY to residents of the state of New York: what in your mind is officially encompassed in phrase "upstate New York?" I mean where do you draw the boundary lines exactly?

Moderator note:

split from RTDNTOTO
 
Last edited:

luckless pedestrian

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Question posed EXCLUSIVELY to residents of the state of New York: what in your mind is officially encompassed in phrase "upstate New York?" I mean where do you draw the boundary lines exactly?
anything north of Yonkers is upstate to someone living in NYC as far as I can tell - this is a common irritant to someone living in Central or Western NY
 

Bubba

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anything north of Yonkers is upstate to someone living in NYC as far as I can tell - this is a common irritant to someone living in Central or Western NY
Mrs. Bubba still has a lot of her extended family members living in and around Buffalo - they are all very polite but very firm about the fact that they live in western NY, not "upstate".
 

Maister

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So, to a NYC resident is the entire state north of Poughkeepsie called or considered 'upstate' - even western NY state or do they refer to that as 'western NY"?
 
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Question posed EXCLUSIVELY to residents of the state of New York: what in your mind is officially encompassed in phrase "upstate New York?" I mean where do you draw the boundary lines exactly?
So, to a NYC resident is the entire state north of Poughkeepsie called or considered 'upstate' - even western NY state or do they refer to that as 'western NY"?
Answers have gotten increasingly complicated with each passing decade.
This is due to many areas of NY State having been massively built up over the decades
and also New Yorkers' increased education on State geography.
In how much detail would you like some answers?
 

dandy_warhol

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Question posed EXCLUSIVELY to residents of the state of New York: what in your mind is officially encompassed in phrase "upstate New York?" I mean where do you draw the boundary lines exactly?
Depends on what type of NYer you ask. I tend to think that people from Orange County and South are from down state. Everything else is Upstate NY and within upstate there are regions. Central, Western, Southern Tier, Capital District, North Country.

People in Plattsburgh etc get annoyed when people who live in Syracuse/Binghamton refer to that as Upstate.
 

dandy_warhol

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So, to a NYC resident is the entire state north of Poughkeepsie called or considered 'upstate' - even western NY state or do they refer to that as 'western NY"?
When people learn you live in NY the conversation goes:

Them: oh, you're from NY? Like the City?
Us: No, I'm from upstate NY.
Them: Blank look
Us: Do you know where Syracuse is?
Them: eyes glaze over
Us: Sigh, about 3.5 hrs from NYC
 

Dan

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My opinion follows the official New York State government designations for "Upstate" and "Downstate", if you're dividing the state into just two basic regions. It is the one true, correct view, and everybody else is wrong, because I said so.

Downstate New York
: counties with public transit and commuter rail service from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

Upstate New York: counties outside the MTA area.

upstate.png

Poughkeepsie: Downstate. Kingston: Upstate.

You also have regional views on what constitutes "Upstate New York." Many living in the NYC metro area see "Upstate" as being anything north of Yonkers, Mount Vernon, and New Rochelle in Winchester County. Some Buffalo area residents will actually get offended if you say it's part of "Upstate New York." They'll insist the area is part of "Western New York", and that it's not Upstate. Ask a Buffalonian what WNY is, and they'll usually say it's a eight county region within the Buffalo sphere of influence: Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Wyoming, Orleans, Chautauqua, Cattaragus, and Allegheny. Ask them if it includes Rochester, and they'll say "hell no!" Ask someone from Rochester if they live in Western New York, though, and the answer will be "absolutely."

western_new_york.png

People, businesses, and institutions in the Syracuse area seems to embrace the "Upstate" label far more than those in other parts of Upstate.

Personally, I'd say there's not just Downstate and Upstate, but also distinct sub-regions.

Downstate NY: Metro North, NYC, Lawnguyland.

Upstate NY: Niagara Frontier/Western NY, Seneca Nation/Burned-Over District (Rochester/northern Finger Lakes), Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Central NY, Adirondacks, Leatherstocking/Hudson River Valley, North Country, Catskills/Borscht Belt.
 

JNA

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My opinion follows the official New York State government designations for "Upstate" and "Downstate", if you're dividing the state into just two basic regions.

Downstate New York: counties with public transit and commuter rail service from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
 

JNA

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Down State is south of the Thruway between Albany & Syracuse
Up State is north of the Thruway between Albany & Syracuse - Northern NY is definitely Tupper Lake , Saranac Lake
Western is west of I-81
 

MacheteJames

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I lived in the city for a dozen years and still consider myself a New Yorker, psychologically.

I concur with downstate as coterminous with the MTA service region, and with the region of the state with the heaviest degree of Dutch influence. i.e. an orientation toward density, commerce, and multiculturalism. Some provincial folks may say stuff like "everything north of 161st St", or Peekskill, or whatever, but no, those areas are still well within the city's cultural sphere and psychogeography. In terms of the things that matter, Suffolk County is more upstate than Yonkers is, given the New England influence on place names in the former.
 
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Here is THE MAP of New York State (NYS) Regions that
NYS public school students must memorize in order to get the
correct answers for the many standardized NY State exams.

That said, I ask you to:
PLEASE DISREGARD vMOST OF THESEv REGIONAL TERMS!
1595540924941.png
PLEASE DISREGARD ^MOST OF THESE^ REGIONAL TERMS!

Why did I ask you to disregard most of the color-coded regional terms?
Because unfortunately, the regional terms that might get a NYS high school
student an A+ on standardized exams are often not the terms used in the real world.

I put up this map as a starting point only-
As a point of reference when I describe regional terms
used by many New York City and Long Island residents.
 

Maister

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So let's pick at this granularity. Would a resident of, say, Oswego County possess a distinct (as Machete so cleverly referred to) psychogeographic identity from that of Lewis or Oneida County residents? What cultural differences could possibly exist that would be identifiable and understandable to an outsider?

Concerning NYC boroughs proper, you know those joke maps like 'A Texan's view of the US which depict Texas occupying 80% of the map and have outlying peripheral features like 'Yankee land' and 'Eskimoes'? Those sorts of maps apply more strongly to NYC residents than anywhere else.

1595593852178.png
 

dandy_warhol

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(I had to look at the map to find Lewis and Oneida counties.)

I would say most Upstate counties are similar and not much difference between people. Some of the counties are more rural and agriculturally-based. So more farmers, older, stereotypically more conservative. I haven't experienced much regional snobbery within Upstate. That is reserved for/from downstaters.

If I met someone and they said they were from Lewis County, after I asked where that was, I would just think they were another person from Upstate NY.


Parts of NY fall within the Appalachian Regional Commission's boundaries because they have some of the same struggles of the rest of Appalachia. So there are issues with poverty, adequate housing, access to jobs and health care.
 

luckless pedestrian

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In which contexts, planning or otherwise, do you (LP) use ^this^ map?

Also, do I have permission to draw just a few lines & a few points (geographical markers) on it?
I think there are subregions in here - my daughter lived in New Paltz and Kingston NY and that's definitely the Hudson Valley

I consider Westchester County Downstate NY

I don't call Albany Eastern NY, I usually just say 'around Albany somewhere" or like that weird zone on the thruway between Albany and Utica I love to say Leatherstocking Region even if that may not be accurate...

and to me there's a big difference between someone living in the "North Country" and the Adirondack region - my sister lives in Canton NY and that is NOT the Adirondack region and is GOd's (foresaken) country lol

so yeah have at it lol
 

RandomPlanner

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So let's pick at this granularity. Would a resident of, say, Oswego County possess a distinct (as Machete so cleverly referred to) psychogeographic identity from that of Lewis or Oneida County residents? What cultural differences could possibly exist that would be identifiable and understandable to an outsider?

Concerning NYC boroughs proper, you know those joke maps like 'A Texan's view of the US which depict Texas occupying 80% of the map and have outlying peripheral features like 'Yankee land' and 'Eskimoes'? Those sorts of maps apply more strongly to NYC residents than anywhere else.

View attachment 48695
Having spent the majority of my life smack dab in the center of NYS, I would argue that there is a definite difference between Oneida and Lewis County and those living in the general vicinity are most certainly aware of it! Lewis County is RURAL/ country/ woods. Oneida County has Utica -- who wants to be a big city and tries really hard at it.

I agree with what others have said -- there is Upstate (north of Poughkeepsie-ish) and Downstate but also other sub-regions. To those who only know NYC, I describe where I grew up as "smack dab in the middle of NYS; it's rural -- with Amish farms and all that".
 

Dan

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Slightly off-topic: if you're going to define Western New York as including more than just the Buffalo media/market area, here's the map I'd use.

sodapopcoke.jpg

I'm talking about the infamous pop/soda isogloss. Historically, Thruway exit 42 (Geneva) was the point where pop turned into soda, and vice versa. In recent years, the pop/soda line resumed its westward movement, and now runs roughly through the middle of Rochester. The future of "pop" in Buffalo, in my opinion, depends on the level of in-migration, and the continued prevalence of Midwestern blue collar "old Buffalo" culture. I think, in the next 20-30 years, there might be a point where Buffalo's more white collar Northtowns sit in soda territory, where the historically more blue collar eastern suburbs and Southtowns are pop holdouts.

Related to that, here's a 468 page paper on dialect boundaries and phonological change in Upstate New York.
 
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What Is Not Upstate New York
From The Viewpoint of:
A Transportation Planner in New York and Northern New Jersey

Take a good look at JNA's Transit Map (above).

From the viewpoint of a transportation planner who work in NY State or Northern NJ,
(or who once did for awhile), it is not called "Upstate New York"
if a Metro-North line is on it.

Also, NYS or North NJ planners who works closely and often
with the aforementioned transportation planners will probably
not call it "Upstate New YorK" if a line is on it.


I'm detailing this plannerverse 'subset' because almost nobody else
thinks of "Not Upstate" in this way.
 
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If this thread ends up moved to the Cities and Places Forum,
then I will try to describe what each New York City borough and each
Long Island county thinks is Upstate New York. There are big differences,
but I'm not sure how detailed I should be here.

___________________________________________________________
In the mean time, a few observations about Dan's soft drink map:
Slightly off-topic: if you're going to define Western New York as including more than just the Buffalo media/market area, here's the map I'd use.

View attachment 48715<snip>
From first-hand experience, I can aver that in northern Massachusetts and in the Boston Metro area it's still called "pop".
It's also called "pop" in southern New Hampshire.
That's assuming, of course, that you're asking 'natives' of those areas.

I guess LP & NHPlanner know what it's called in Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire,
but I doubt if the 'natives' frequently cal it "soda".
 
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