Upstate New York

From Academic Kids

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Upstate New York is the region of New York State outside of the core of the New York metropolitan area.


The ambiguous definition of "Upstate New York"

The exact definition of Upstate New York is somewhat ambiguous, but the term often refers the whole of the state besides New York City, Long Island, Westchester County, and Rockland County, an area sometimes correspondingly called 'downstate'. Because both Putnam County and Orange County contain many communities of New York City commuters, they are sometimes not considered part of Upstate New York. Also, Dutchess County (at least south of Poughkeepsie) is often no longer considered to be part of Upstate New York as more and more New York City commuters have moved there and turned rural areas into distant suburbs of the metropolis.

Some residents use the term in a sense relative to their location, and might consider only the far north 'upstate'. Others consider Upstate New York as only those areas that are actually more-or-less due north of New York City. Many provincial Brooklynites even consider everything outside of the five boroughs of New York City to be Upstate New York, even Long Island, which is technically east of New York City. The term "upstate" is often interpreted as mildly pejorative, especially in reference to regions whose status as "upstate" by the above definitions is ambiguous.

Still others view "upstate" vs. "downstate" in terms of weather and climate, particularly that of the wintertime. While cold weather and snow are certainly a part of winter in the New York metropolitan area, there is a point somewhere north of New York City where due to a combination of higher terrain and distance from the coast winter mornings suddenly average 10 degrees colder and what would be a rainstorm in Manhattan more often than not becomes a snowstorm. Some say that point (usually said to be north of I-287, the Bear Mountain Bridge, the point at which ZIP Codes start beginning with "12" instead of "10" or sometimes I-84), in the area usually indicated by city-based television weather forecasters as "north and west") marks the beginnings of Upstate New York.

Ultimately, most use the term 'upstate' to denote areas that are both somewhat north of and considerably more rural than their home location. Only residents north and west to a certain degree of Albany tend to embrace the term "upstate" as describing their location; south of the Capital Region people tend to find it to be an insulting manifestation of the famous New Yorker magazine's view of the world.

Characteristics of Upstate New York

The region is culturally and economically distinct from the New York City area, though in the Hudson Valley Dutchess, Putnam, and Orange Counties are considered peripheral sections of the metro area. The true upstate area consists of a handful of small and medium-sized cities, squarely in the Rust Belt, which are spread out across the broader region, astride a number of suburban communities, and are all set amid what is a largely rural landscape. Though there are some centers of wealth, much of the area is relatively economically depressed, with poverty levels comparable to the American South.

Perhaps stemming from the region's semi-rural character, there is a stronger tendency toward conservatism in culture and politics than found in the more urban downstate area, and Upstate is the power base of the state's Republican Party (ironically though, most of New York State's most successful Republican politicians, such as George Pataki, Rudolph Giuliani, Fiorello LaGuardia, Jacob Javits and Alfonse D'Amato, came from the "downstate" region). This has historically fueled many political struggles with largely downstate-based Democrats in the New York Legislature. There are several exceptions to this rule, including Erie County (Buffalo), Monroe County (Rochester), Tompkins County (Ithaca), Albany County (Albany), Clinton, Franklin, and St. Lawrence counties (influence of Canada). Ulster County, while having no urban centers, has consistently voted Democratic in presidential elections and is the epicenter of liberal U.S. congressman Maurice Hinchey's district.

Upstate New York geography

The headwaters of the Delaware, Susquehanna, and Hudson rivers are located in the region. The region is characterized by the major mountain ranges and large lakes.

The sizes of upstate counties and towns are generally larger in area and smaller in population, compared with the downstate region, although there are exceptions. The state's smallest county in population (Hamilton County) and largest county in area (St. Lawrence County on the state's northern border) are both in upstate New York, while the largest in population (Kings County) and smallest in area (New York County) are both part of New York City.

Upstate New York history

Before the arrival of European settlement, the area was inhabited by a mixture of Iroquois-speaking people (mainly west of the Hudson) and Algonquin-speaking people (mainly east of the Hudson). The conflict between the two peoples was an important historical force in the days of the early European colonization.

The region was important beginning in the very early days of both the French Colonization and Dutch colonization, where much of the fur trade of the New Netherland colony was located in the upper Hudson Valley. The area was the scene of much of the fighting in the French and Indian War, events which were depicted in the work of James Fenimore Cooper.

The region was strategically important in the American Revolution, and was the scene of several important battles, including the Battle of Saratoga, which is considered to have been a significant turning point in the war. While New York City remained in the hands of the British during most of the war, the upstate region was firmly in the hands of the Colonial forces.

In the 19th century, with the opening of the Erie Canal, the area became an important component of the manufacturing industry in the United States. In recent decades, with the decline of manufacturing, the area has generally suffered a net population loss.

Lists of important features of Upstate New York

Famous political figures who came from the region:

The region is considered to be the cradle of Mormonism, as well as the Women's Suffrage movement. It was important historically in the Shaker movment.

Regions of Upstate New York:

Cities in Upstate New York include:

Major universities in Upstate New York include:

Tourist attractions and resort destinations in Upstate New York include:

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State of New York




Adirondack Mountains | Capital District | Catskill Mountains | Central | Finger Lakes | The Holland Purchase | Hudson Valley | Long Island | Mohawk Valley | Shawangunks | Southern Tier | Upstate | Western

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