The ambiguous definition of "Upstate New York" Edit
There is no exact boundary between Upstate New York and "Downstate New York", with the term "Upstate" sometimes used to refer to the whole of the state besides New York City and Long Island, and by others to refer only to the portion of the state north of Albany. Because Westchester County, Rockland County, Putnam County and Orange County contain many communities of New York City commuters, these too are often 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. The term "upstate" is often interpreted as mildly pejorative, especially in reference to regions whose status as "upstate" by the above definitions is ambiguous. The term "upstate" for some evokes connotations of rural, backward lands whose ways are contrary to those of the big city. Conversely, many "upstate" New Yorkers specify themselves as "upstaters," preferring not to be associated with the urban values and lifestyle of New York City.
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, or I-84; or sometimes the point at which ZIP Codes start beginning with "12" instead of "10"), 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 Edit
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 compared to the downstate areas.
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. It must be noted that the conservatism of the upstate region more closely resembles the limited-government libertarian conservatism of many of the western states instead of the large-government authoritarian conservatism of the southern states and the Religious Right and some of the Religious Right's harshest critics were upstate Republicans such as Amo Houghton and Jack Quinn. 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, largely due to the economic and political supremacy of the downstate region making most upstate Republicans politically unacceptable to downstate voters and the party's downstate-based financial backers. This has historically fueled many political struggles with largely downstate-based Democrats in the New York Legislature however the feuds quite often tend to be more on regional lines than on party lines, the most recent major example being the failed attempt by upstate assemblyman Michael Bragman to seize control of the downstate-dominated state Democratic party in 2000, which was immediately followed by a strong retaliatory backlash against all upstate politicians in state government. There are several exceptions to this rule, including Erie County (Buffalo), Monroe County (Rochester), Onondaga County (Syracuse), 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.
As a whole, Upstate New York is roughly equally divided in Federal elections between Democratic and republicans, with Bush winning with a slim margin in 2004 against John Kerry (1,577,166 to 1,557,503).
Upstate New York geography Edit
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 Edit
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 1779, the Sullivan Expedition, a military campaign ordered by Gen. George Washington, drove thousands of Iroquois from their lands in the region.
Following the American Revolution, the United States signed a federal treaty, the Treaty of Canandaigua, with the Six Nations of the Iroquois, affirming their land rights in the region. Nevertheless, extinguishing of Indian title to these lands continued through the early 19th century. The lands were then settled by Revolutionary War veterans and others from New England states.
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. Five of the six Iroquois nations have filed land claims against New York State (or have sought settlement of pending claims), based on late 18th-century treaties with the United States.
Through the mid and late 19th century, Upstate New York became a hotbed of religious revivialism with myriads of sects establishing themselves during that time. Because of the comparative isolation of the region, many of the sects were non-conformist and had numerous difficulties with other local population as well as government authority because of their non-traditional tenets. This led to evangelist Charles Grandison Finney to coin the term the Burned-over district for the region. The Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists and Spiritualists are the only 21st century survivors of the hundreds of sects created during this time.
Lists of important features of Upstate New York Edit
Famous political figures who came from the region: Edit
Regions of Upstate New York: Edit
- Adirondack Mountains
- Capital District (Albany and the surrounding area)
- Catskill Mountains
- Central New York (includes Syracuse)
- Finger Lakes
- The Holland Purchase
- Hudson Valley (except Rockland County and Westchester County, though in general increasingly part of the New York metro area culturally)
- Mohawk Valley
- North Country (extreme Northern frontier of New York, north of the Adirondacks)
- Shawangunk Ridge
- Southern Tier (just north of Pennsylvania, excluding Western New York)
- Western New York (the westernmost tip; includes Buffalo and Rochester)
Cities in Upstate New York include: Edit
- Albany (the state capital)
- Buffalo (the largest city in Upstate New York)
- Glens Falls
- Niagara Falls
- Saratoga Springs
Major universities in Upstate New York include: Edit
- University at Albany (part of the SUNY system)
- Alfred University
- Binghamton University (part of the SUNY system)
- University at Buffalo (part of the SUNY system)
- Clarkson University
- Colgate University
- Cornell University
- Hamilton College
- Ithaca College
- Nazareth College
- Niagara University
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Rochester Institute of Technology
- University of Rochester
- Skidmore College
- St. Bonaventure University
- Syracuse University
Tourist attractions and resort destinations in Upstate New York include: Edit
- Adirondack Mountains
- Baseball Hall of Fame (in Cooperstown)
- Catskill Mountains
- Erie Canal
- Finger Lakes
- Fort Ontario
- Fort Ticonderoga
- Lake Champlain
- Lake George
- Letchworth State Park
- Niagara Falls
- Saratoga Race Course
- Soccer Hall of Fame
- Thousand Islands
- Turning Stone Casino and Resort
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