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Author Topic: How do you define Upstate NY?  (Read 26651 times)

empirestate

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How do you define Upstate NY?
« on: June 10, 2016, 11:44:08 PM »

Inspired by the Chicagoland thread, and since I was just thinking about this recently…

We've all heard the joke that to a Manhattanite, even the Bronx counts as Upstate. But to me, raised in Western NY, the term "Upstate" definitely excludes quite a lot of NY's southernmost area. And I believe that I can cite plenty of empirical justification for my definition of Upstate.

My usual definition says that if Metro North serves an area, it is not Upstate, because it has direct and regular commuting ties to Manhattan. (I think we all agree that Manhattan is, for every purpose of the term, not Upstate.)

A similar and even more concrete definition would be that Upstate is everything outside of the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District, which encompasses everything south and east of Orange and Dutchess counties, inclusive.

So what's your definition of "Upstate", and can you tie it to some definable criteria (rather than just saying, "I think Upstate stops around here")?

*n.b.: I'm only speaking of the term as an absolute—as in, this area is "Upstate" and that one isn't. There's also a relative sense of the term—as in, "White Plains is upstate of Yonkers"—which I think stands alone.


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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2016, 11:50:45 PM »

Does WNY usually consider itself to be upstate NY or is WNY a third category?

Personally I would think anything above that parallel that divides NY and PA as Upstate NY
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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2016, 12:04:08 AM »

Inspired by the Chicagoland thread, and since I was just thinking about this recently…

We've all heard the joke that to a Manhattanite, even the Bronx counts as Upstate. But to me, raised in Western NY, the term "Upstate" definitely excludes quite a lot of NY's southernmost area. And I believe that I can cite plenty of empirical justification for my definition of Upstate.

My usual definition says that if Metro North serves an area, it is not Upstate, because it has direct and regular commuting ties to Manhattan. (I think we all agree that Manhattan is, for every purpose of the term, not Upstate.)

A similar and even more concrete definition would be that Upstate is everything outside of the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District, which encompasses everything south and east of Orange and Dutchess counties, inclusive.

So what's your definition of "Upstate", and can you tie it to some definable criteria (rather than just saying, "I think Upstate stops around here")?

*n.b.: I'm only speaking of the term as an absolute—as in, this area is "Upstate" and that one isn't. There's also a relative sense of the term—as in, "White Plains is upstate of Yonkers"—which I think stands alone.


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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2016, 12:08:05 AM »

I'm finding myself thinking Upstate is bigger and bigger the longer I live here.  Used to think it was I-84 that was the dividing line.  I'm now thinking Westchester/Rockland are downstate.
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empirestate

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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2016, 12:37:41 AM »

Does WNY usually consider itself to be upstate NY or is WNY a third category?

I never thought of it as such. However, I feel like "Western NY" is a term used more by the Buffalo area, so they might feel differently.

Quote
Personally I would think anything above that parallel that divides NY and PA as Upstate NY

I can see that; looking at where that line passes, I do feel there's a slight socio-cultural shift there. However, this does give the odd circumstance of putting half of the Catskill region Upstate and the other half Downstate; do you suppose many people in Kingston say "I'm heading Upstate" and then just drive to Woodstock?

Anywhere that isn't Long Island, New York City, or Westchester County.

I actually live in Putnam County, literally walking distance from the Westchester line. What difference do you see between those areas that would make my home be Upstate, but the gas station down the hill in Cortlandt not Upstate? (I am asking genuinely; I actually do notice a very slight difference myself from one side of the county line to the other. But I also notice that heading north from my house, things get an awful lot more Downstate-y before they start to get Upstate-y, which is why I consider the boundary to be much farther north.)

I'm finding myself thinking Upstate is bigger and bigger the longer I live here.  Used to think it was I-84 that was the dividing line.  I'm now thinking Westchester/Rockland are downstate.

I-84 as the divider would still put Westchester and Rockland downstate. How has your perception of Downstate narrowed?

I was a little hurried when I wrote the OP—I was commuting from Manhattan to another non-Upstate area, by definition  ;-)—but when I mention "concrete" or "empirical" criteria, I mean finding a way in which one's day-to-day life would be different depending on whether one lives Upstate or not. Using my Metro North example, I would say that I don't live Upstate because Upstate, by my definition, is not a place one can reside in and still commute readily to NYC, which I do. Or, if I use the Metropolitan District definition, it means I have to pay a whole bunch of extra money when I do things like register my car, and that extra levy is based at least theoretically on the aforementioned commuting ties to NYC.

So, if you use a definition that's based on a geographical line or political boundary, can you show how living (or working, or visiting) on one side or the other of that line measurably impacts one's day-to-day affairs?
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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2016, 12:51:57 AM »

I know we got into a discussion on this a while back, but I don't feel like looking for the thread. To me though, anything north of the Bronx is considered Upstate.

And I still remember a small green sign on NY 119 approaching US 9 and the Thruway interchange saying "Upstate" (straight ahead) and "New York" (left arrow).

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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2016, 12:58:57 AM »

Anything north and west of Westchester county.
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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2016, 07:04:32 AM »

I consider I-84 the border.
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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2016, 08:50:29 AM »

I know we got into a discussion on this a while back, but I don't feel like looking for the thread. To me though, anything north of the Bronx is considered Upstate.

And I still remember a small green sign on NY 119 approaching US 9 and the Thruway interchange saying "Upstate" (straight ahead) and "New York" (left arrow).

Interesting, so you would have considered that signage to be wrong, since a part of your "Upstate" would lie in the direction of the left arrow as well (the part between the Bronx line and NY 119)? Or would you take "upstate" in this case to be the relative sense, essentially synonymous with "north"?

So what are the day-to-day differences between the Bronx and Yonkers, or Mt. Vernon? If we look at this Street View, what makes you consider the view towards the right to be Upstate, and the view to the left not to be?

Anything north and west of Westchester county.

OK, same question as before: what do you see as different between Westchester County, and Rockland or Putnam County? Remember, it's a two-part question: first, what's your definition of Upstate; and second, how does it definably impact everyday life and business?
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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2016, 12:19:58 PM »

I always considered Upstate New York as everything north from Binghamton/I-88 east to Albany then north of I-90 from Albany to the MA line.
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empirestate

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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2016, 12:41:22 PM »

I always considered Upstate New York as everything north from Binghamton/I-88 east to Albany then north of I-90 from Albany to the MA line.

I'm pretty sure that's the narrowest definition I've seen so far. :-) So that, for example, would put Otsego County almost entirely Upstate, whereas most of Schoharie County would be Downstate. What strikes you as the the defining difference between these two counties?


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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2016, 01:31:13 PM »

Everything north of Co-op City.
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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2016, 01:57:02 PM »

Everything north and west of the 845 area code (northern/western border of Orange, Ulster, and Dutchess Counties). I call everthing west of Utica and Binghamton "Western New York"
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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2016, 02:49:48 PM »

Everything north of NY 17 and NY 55 (incl. multiplexes).
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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2016, 03:14:01 PM »

Everything north of NY 17 and NY 55 (incl. multiplexes).

You just excluded more than half of Binghamton.
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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2016, 03:30:37 PM »

Upstate used to be everything that's not NYC, but people from out of state still don't know you're not from NYC (or very close to it) when you tell them you're from "upstate" and I think this has a lot to do with all the NYC-themed TV shows. Anytime TV shows refer to "upstate" it's always some county that's only a few miles (relatively) from NYC. Western-NY has seemed to come more into prominence to help people understand that we're not from NYC, we just pay all their bills.
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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2016, 03:38:46 PM »

I always considered Upstate New York as everything north from Binghamton/I-88 east to Albany then north of I-90 from Albany to the MA line.

I'm pretty sure that's the narrowest definition I've seen so far. :-) So that, for example, would put Otsego County almost entirely Upstate, whereas most of Schoharie County would be Downstate. What strikes you as the the defining difference between these two counties?

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Well, I have an even narrower definition of Upstate New York: North of I-90. However, the area between the end of NYC built-up area and I-90 is a gray area for me, and may be 'Upstate' too. Anything West of I-81 is Western New York.
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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2016, 04:19:52 PM »

An easy way to tell nothing in Western-NY used to be called "Western-NY" until recently - look where Upstate Farms is. Can't get much further west than that. But yes, we most certainly use the term Western-NY now.
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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2016, 05:22:28 PM »

Everything north of I-90.
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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2016, 05:26:49 PM »

North of I-84 and east of I-81.
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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #20 on: June 11, 2016, 05:51:59 PM »

I always considered Upstate New York as everything north from Binghamton/I-88 east to Albany then north of I-90 from Albany to the MA line.
My impression was that "upstate" definition changes as you go north: someone in Manhattan may think Bronx is upstate,  but as you go north that line moves north as well.  I had an impression that even Albany area is not really upstate. Since I-90  cuts through Albany, using that as divider doesn't make much sense for the area.. Lately, I reluctantly accepted Albany area being upstate, though...
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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #21 on: June 11, 2016, 06:10:45 PM »

Okay, I realize my original question was hastily written and probably unclear (and when I have more time I'll edit it), but we're all really missing the point here.

The question I'm interested in is not just where you draw the boundary, but WHY you draw it there. In other words, when you see I-90 on a map, for example, or maybe NY 17, and decide that's the dividing line, why did you pick that location? What do you see differently about the socio-cultural aspects of the area to one side of the line as opposed to the other? What makes one side of the line seem like it's more closely connected to NYC (assuming that's a core aspect of what defines Downstate vs. Upstate) than the other?

The reason I'm asking this is because I'm curious whether there can be said to be a "definitive" idea of what Upstate is, because it's based on definable characteristics as opposed to just being a gut feeling. But in order to find out, we need to know what those characteristics are. I'm not saying anyone's definition is more "correct" than the others, I'm just trying to figure out what criteria people use to decide, and maybe help narrow down the essential meaning of the term.


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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #22 on: June 11, 2016, 06:38:03 PM »

For clinching purposes, I'm using "north of NYC".  Culturally, I'm thinking Regions 8, 10, and 11 plus Sullivan County and minus Columbia County as being downstate.  That's the area that's largely people commuting to the city or fueled by people from the city heading north for a weekend.  Originally I included Columbia County, but it seems to me that places like Kinderhook and Valatie are probably more commuter towns of the Capital District.

Western NY I see as being west of I-390.  East of there is the Finger Lakes.
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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #23 on: June 11, 2016, 10:07:34 PM »

Okay, I realize my original question was hastily written and probably unclear (and when I have more time I'll edit it), but we're all really missing the point here.
[...]

The reason I'm asking this is because I'm curious whether there can be said to be a "definitive" idea of what Upstate is, because it's based on definable characteristics as opposed to just being a gut feeling. But in order to find out, we need to know what those characteristics are. I'm not saying anyone's definition is more "correct" than the others, I'm just trying to figure out what criteria people use to decide, and maybe help narrow down the essential meaning of the term.

Just my personal opinion - we're talking degree of urbanity. NYC is as urban as it gets; Adirondacks - which is "true upstate" for me - are quite rural. Albany-Kingston- Poughkeepsie are somewhere in between both geographically and culturally. I would say that spirit of extreme urbanity propagates from NYC, mostly along Thruway, and vanishes somewhere past Albany...
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empirestate

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Re: How do you define Upstate NY?
« Reply #24 on: June 11, 2016, 10:55:24 PM »

Just my personal opinion - we're talking degree of urbanity. NYC is as urban as it gets; Adirondacks - which is "true upstate" for me - are quite rural. Albany-Kingston- Poughkeepsie are somewhere in between both geographically and culturally. I would say that spirit of extreme urbanity propagates from NYC, mostly along Thruway, and vanishes somewhere past Albany...

Okay, so you would exclude Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester et al. from the "Upstate" category…what about places like Ithaca, a small city but ultimately a rural outpost? Or the undeveloped areas between western cities, like Orleans or Wyoming counties?



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