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  #1  
Old 08-22-2008, 09:40 AM
Hypno-Toad Hypno-Toad is offline
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The Divide Between Northern and Southern California

It seems that the Northern California "green" culture is rather different than the L.A.-based Southern California lifestyle. Where would the dividing line between the two be located? Are their outlying islands of either culture? And are there other geographically identifiable cultures in California?
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  #2  
Old 08-22-2008, 10:28 AM
Oredigger77 Oredigger77 is offline
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Well, I think the state is pretty clearly divided right about King City on Hwy 101 over to Visalia in the Central Valley.

I think California is really divided into more groups then that; Northern California, Eastern Sierra, Central Valley, Central Coast, Southern California, Mojave Desert. Northern California is from King City North or Monterey if you're looking for a city you've heard of, it stops just east of Sacramento and goes up to the Oregon border. The eastern Sierra takes up the north Eastern part of the state and is basically the good ski towns but is sparsely populated. The Central Valley boils down to Fresno and Bakersfield. The Central Coast is San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura County the culture here is much more laid back then their brethren to the south. Southern California is from Oxnard (northern most tip of LA in my opinion) south along the coast and is pretty much exactly what you think. The Mojave is the southern part of the Eastern Sierras in my mind bound by Barstow to the Northwest.

But I think every one divides the state up differently in their mind, as far as sub regions but I don't too many will argue with my north/south line.
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  #3  
Old 08-22-2008, 10:58 AM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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If you are looking for a simple line to split cultural SoCal from NorCal, I would say it is roughly the Tehachapi Mountains. Looking at a map of counties, the dividing line would be the northern border of SLO, Kern, and San Bernardino Counties. It's more of a cultural divide than a 50-50 geographic split.

This puts Bakersfield in an odd spot. If push came to shove, would folks in Bako consider themselves SoCal or NorCal? Fresno?

I can't imagine Monterey and Sac as the division. That's too far north unless you live in the Mt. Shasta area.

There are many ways to carve up California. If you want a simple 3-way split that includes Central California, then I would say Central California includes Monterey, SLO, and Ventura Counties, going roughly east from there. Maybe Santa Cruz County... maybe.

You could divide the state even more if you wanted... Mohave, Sierra, Central Valley, Shasta, South Coast, North Coast, Delta, Bay Area, etc. The Central Valley can be split into the Sacramento Valley and San Joaquin Valley. The Sierras can be divided into north and south, too, and maybe even east and west.
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  #4  
Old 08-22-2008, 11:20 AM
RandMcnally RandMcnally is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearflag70
This puts Bakersfield in an odd spot. If push came to shove, would folks in Bako consider themselves SoCal or NorCal?

If either North or South, Bakersfieldians would probably consider themselves more So Cal than NorCal, seeing as how we're only about an 1.5 hour drive away from LA.

In my head there are three Californias: Northern California (where all the hippies live), So Cal (just what you expect SoCal to be) and The Central Valley (where all the farmers/Republicans are).


Randmcnally
Born and raised in Bakersfield, although I do try to forget sometimes.
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  #5  
Old 08-22-2008, 11:21 AM
even sven even sven is online now
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When I lived in Santa Cruz, we felt like we were on some sort of border. To the north was definitely Bay Area (and Northern California in general- the parts North of Sacramento got lumped into "doesn't exist" California) and yet south of us was the nebulous space between Northern and Southern California (which seemed to start in earnest around Santa Barbara.) If push comes to shove I'd lump central California in with the North.

Every year at UC Santa Cruz there were fights among the incoming freshman (split equally among the Californias), primary about the use of the word "hella", which is basic vocabulary to a Northerner and a horrible obscenity (so it would seem) to those from the Southern reaches.

In short there is a split and it is hard to pinpoint. Furthermore, in a state bigger than many countries and with an almost unheard of geographic diversity (desert! mountains! beaches! plains!) there are a number of smaller subcultures.
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  #6  
Old 08-22-2008, 11:24 AM
Great Dave Great Dave is offline
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Q: How many NorCalers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Hella.
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  #7  
Old 08-22-2008, 12:08 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearflag70
This puts Bakersfield in an odd spot. If push came to shove, would folks in Bako consider themselves SoCal or NorCal? Fresno?
The basic problem is that neither NorCal or SoCal wants either place.
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  #8  
Old 08-22-2008, 12:14 PM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearflag70
If you want a simple 3-way split that includes Central California, then I would say Central California includes Monterey, SLO, and Ventura Counties, going roughly east from there. Maybe Santa Cruz County... maybe.
Sorry, I forgot Santa Barbara County
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  #9  
Old 08-22-2008, 12:22 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Carmel is definitely Northern, and San Luis Obispo (not to mention Santa Barbara) is definitely southern. I'd agree that King City is a reasonable dividing point. I also agree that the Central Valley is not either. Different climate, different occupation, and different politics.
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  #10  
Old 08-22-2008, 01:31 PM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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Looking at a map, I guess King City and the northern border of SLO county aren't that far apart.
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  #11  
Old 08-22-2008, 02:39 PM
Great Dave Great Dave is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silenus
The basic problem is that neither NorCal or SoCal wants either place.
Ain't that the truth.
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  #12  
Old 08-22-2008, 04:01 PM
dangermom dangermom is offline
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I vote for Bakersfield in Southern CA, and Santa Barbara is the starting point on the coast. SLO and the rest of the Central Coast is just very different.

I live way up north, so even the Bay Area doesn't feel like Northern CA to me.
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  #13  
Old 08-22-2008, 04:11 PM
tesseract tesseract is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RandMcNally
In my head there are three Californias: Northern California (where all the hippies live), So Cal (just what you expect SoCal to be) and The Central Valley (where all the farmers/Republicans are).
Yeah, I think of it basically this way too, in a broad brush sense. However, I was very pleasantly surprised when I came to San Diego to actually live...in our little neighborhood there are several cool cafes, bars (I don't actually go to bars, but I'm just saying), used bookstores, African stores and people, yoga places, good restaurants, and other cool funkiness that defied my perception of So Cal as fake-y, suntanny, suburban-sprawlish hell. And there are a good number of neighborhoods like this.

Last edited by tesseract; 08-22-2008 at 04:14 PM..
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  #14  
Old 08-22-2008, 04:24 PM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tesseract
Yeah, I think of it basically this way too, in a broad brush sense. However, I was very pleasantly surprised when I came to San Diego to actually live...in our little neighborhood there are several cool cafes, bars (I don't actually go to bars, but I'm just saying), used bookstores, African stores and people, yoga places, good restaurants, and other cool funkiness that defied my perception of So Cal as fake-y, suntanny, suburban-sprawlish hell. And there are a good number of neighborhoods like this.
OB?
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  #15  
Old 08-22-2008, 07:25 PM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oredigger77
Southern California is from Oxnard (northern most tip of LA in my opinion) south along the coast and is pretty much exactly what you think.
Well, Ventura is just across a river from Oxnard, and is farther along the 101, so I think most people would redraw that boundary to include Ventura, at least. You can leave out Carpinteria if you like.
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  #16  
Old 08-22-2008, 07:30 PM
Moirai Moirai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tesseract
Yeah, I think of it basically this way too, in a broad brush sense. However, I was very pleasantly surprised when I came to San Diego to actually live...in our little neighborhood there are several cool cafes, bars (I don't actually go to bars, but I'm just saying), used bookstores, African stores and people, yoga places, good restaurants, and other cool funkiness that defied my perception of So Cal as fake-y, suntanny, suburban-sprawlish hell. And there are a good number of neighborhoods like this.

Yep. SoCal can be a very cool place, if you know where to look.


ETA- and yeah, include Ventura in SoCal, since it's mentioned in a Beach Boys song...

Last edited by Moirai; 08-22-2008 at 07:30 PM..
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  #17  
Old 08-22-2008, 08:15 PM
Don't fight the hypothetical Don't fight the hypothetical is offline
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Living in Santa Cruz I say the northern Monterey Bay area.
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  #18  
Old 08-22-2008, 08:27 PM
Oredigger77 Oredigger77 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cardinal
Well, Ventura is just across a river from Oxnard, and is farther along the 101, so I think most people would redraw that boundary to include Ventura, at least. You can leave out Carpinteria if you like.
I see where your coming from but except for the hill going into LA, there are no breaks between Oxnard and LA. Also they still barbque Tri-tip in Ventura which is a clear sign that you're still on the Central Coast.
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  #19  
Old 08-22-2008, 09:15 PM
Civil Guy Civil Guy is offline
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I think the dividing line is really between those who don't like L.A. because it's too freaking big and... well... the system breaks down after that.
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  #20  
Old 08-22-2008, 09:33 PM
blondebear blondebear is offline
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The ever-enthusiastic Huell Howser did an interesting "California's Gold" episode with a similar topic:
Quote:
California's Gold #608 - CENTER OF CALIFORNIA

Huell travels in search of the geographic center of our state and in the process visits a whole string of towns that lay claim to being "the center of California." With the help of locals and a cartographer from the U.S. Geological Survey, Huell finally locates the exact spot and marks it by planting a state flag.
He also did some shows in search of the furthest "edges" of the state. If you haven't ever seen the show, and are interested in finding out about the sights, culture, and history of the Golden State, it is well worth checking out.

Me: I divide California into the "redwood" half, and the "desert" half.

Last edited by blondebear; 08-22-2008 at 09:34 PM..
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  #21  
Old 08-22-2008, 10:00 PM
Galena Galena is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RandMcnally
In my head there are three Californias: Northern California (where all the hippies live), So Cal (just what you expect SoCal to be) and The Central Valley (where all the farmers/Republicans are).
I totally agree with this also. I live in the Bay Area, but I do a lot of traveling and work in the Central Valley. It's just something else.

When people here tease me about being from a backward mid-western state, I ask them if they've ever even seen the Central Valley. The only distinguishable difference, in my mind, between rural Missouri and rural California is that one grows corn and the other grows strawberries. Both grow 'pubbies rather well. ;-)
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  #22  
Old 09-03-2008, 09:30 PM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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Originally Posted by Oredigger77 View Post
I see where your coming from but except for the hill going into LA, there are no breaks between Oxnard and LA. Also they still barbecue Tri-tip in Ventura which is a clear sign that you're still on the Central Coast.
Well, I haven't lived there in a good while, but having been there for 6th through 14th grade, I think I know something of the character of the place. I know not of this BBQ predilection, nor your reason for declaring its importance.

You have custom surf shops, kids surfing before school, Dodgers and Lakers fans; for crying out loud, you still get all the L.A. tv stations with rabbit ear antennas.
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  #23  
Old 09-04-2008, 01:11 AM
panamajack panamajack is offline
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Originally Posted by Galena View Post
When people here tease me about being from a backward mid-western state, I ask them if they've ever even seen the Central Valley. The only distinguishable difference, in my mind, between rural Missouri and rural California is that one grows corn and the other grows strawberries. Both grow 'pubbies rather well. ;-)
Strawberries? In the Valley? It sounds nice enough, but 99% of the state's strawberries are grown along the coast (which even in rural areas leans left). Your point still stands - I'd bet that there are far more KKK members in the Valley than in all of Missouri, even.


As for dividing the state, the two big population centers (the Bay Area in the North, and LA in the South) are clear that the other one is a different culture. Setting the line halfway in between doesn't seem right, as each side sees a clear distinction somewhere a bit closer to them than that. Of course, if they set a "north/south" dividing line there, the other side will object to being lumped with the group they aren't part of, which is why the third section arises.

The "true North" is ignored and mostly doesn't seem to mind or care; it may as well all be part of the state of Franklin.
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  #24  
Old 09-04-2008, 01:48 AM
Obsidian Obsidian is offline
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I think it's divided by whether you say "the 101" or just "101".

even sven, did they flight about the freeway "the" as well?
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  #25  
Old 09-04-2008, 09:56 AM
WordMan WordMan is online now
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Born in Long Beach, raised in NoCal (primarily Redwood City) and went to school in Santa Barbara. Worked in Silicon Valley and lived in SF for about 10 years...

I tend to think of it as King City, too - is the Feed Bag still there? Great burgers and onion rings, baby!
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  #26  
Old 09-04-2008, 10:29 AM
Oredigger77 Oredigger77 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cardinal View Post
Well, I haven't lived there in a good while, but having been there for 6th through 14th grade, I think I know something of the character of the place. I know not of this BBQ predilection, nor your reason for declaring its importance.

You have custom surf shops, kids surfing before school, Dodgers and Lakers fans; for crying out loud, you still get all the L.A. tv stations with rabbit ear antennas.
Well, I am a Dodgers fan and most of my friends were surfing before school and we had all of the custom surf shops you could want all the way up to San Luis. But I would say there is a huge difference between Pismo Beach and Long beach. I have received KCAL in Vegas so I don't think any of those things is really an indicator of how LA a place is. As for not knowing what Tri Tip is your are obviously a heathen, itís also known as Santa Maria style BBQ.

When ever we drove down to Magic Mountain we always figured that LA started at the turn off the coast, right above Oxnard. But like I said originally if you're not breaking out in to multiple areas the North/South line runs through King City and all of the Central Coast is So. Cal.
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  #27  
Old 09-04-2008, 11:00 AM
Yorikke Yorikke is offline
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I lived in Woodlake, right near Visalia, for 6 years, and the people there, if pressed to choose between North and South, would say they live in Southern California.

Joe
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  #28  
Old 09-04-2008, 11:30 AM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tesseract View Post
Yeah, I think of it basically this way too, in a broad brush sense. However, I was very pleasantly surprised when I came to San Diego to actually live...in our little neighborhood there are several cool cafes, bars (I don't actually go to bars, but I'm just saying), used bookstores, African stores and people, yoga places, good restaurants, and other cool funkiness that defied my perception of So Cal as fake-y, suntanny, suburban-sprawlish hell. And there are a good number of neighborhoods like this.
Lots of neighborhoods in L.A. are like that too. My neighborhood offers numerous places I can walk to, although it's true that if I need to go further afield the only practical way to do so is by driving. The only thing my neighborhood doesn't have is bars. We're near the VA, and an ancient law prohibits the sale of alcohol within a half-mile or so of a VA facility, except by pharmacists(!). The local grocery store does sell all types of alcohol, and the restaurants do serve wine and beer, but there's no place where people go just to kick back a couple.
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  #29  
Old 09-04-2008, 11:51 AM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EJsGirl View Post
Yep. SoCal can be a very cool place, if you know where to look.


ETA- and yeah, include Ventura in SoCal, since it's mentioned in a Beach Boys song...
Also because the commuter rail line goes up that far, IIRC.
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  #30  
Old 09-04-2008, 12:33 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
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Originally Posted by Obsidian View Post
I think it's divided by whether you say "the 101" or just "101".
That's what I came in to post. But I'm not quite sure where the line is.

I live in Santa Barbara and say "the", but I picked it up while going to school further south. I'm not sure if native Barbarians use the article. I think that this division would put the line somewhere north of SLO.
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  #31  
Old 09-04-2008, 01:20 PM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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So, is Hearst Castle a NoCal or a SoCal tourist attraction?
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  #32  
Old 09-04-2008, 01:42 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Originally Posted by Tom Tildrum View Post
So, is Hearst Castle a NoCal or a SoCal tourist attraction?
Definitely SoCal. Nice place, but we don't think about it up here. Anyhow, it must be SoCal since he had all the Hollywood people visiting.
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  #33  
Old 09-04-2008, 02:53 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is online now
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I'm wondering how this overlaps with Joel Garreau's* cultural definition of "Ecotopia" as "the wet part of California" and "Mexamerica" as "the dry part"?

*author of The Nine Nations
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