"Back east" and other regionalisms

In Vermont, anybody from out-of-state is a “Flatlander,” even if they live in the Rockies.

I’m an Arizonan. To me, Texas is both “back east” and “down south.” “The Southwest” is New Mexico and Arizona.

Here in the wilds of central Washington, anything on the other side of the Cascades is “the coast”. If you are going to Packwood, which is still in the Cascades, albeit on the westside of the summit, you are going to the coast.

If you live on the western side of the Cascades, everything on the other side is Eastern Washington. Doesn’t matter that Wenatchee thinks it’s in North Central Washington, or that Yakima is in Central Washington.

Here in the northernmost county of Delaware, we refer to the southern part of the state as “Lower Delaware”. Since that area is primarily farmland, it inevitably gets the teasing “Slower Lower Delaware”.

Strangely, I’ve always called going to the Jersey beaches “going down the shore”, but going to Delaware beaches is just going to the beach.

Further most Oaklanders call The City “Frisco”, just to tweak their noses.

I’ve noticed since moving to the The Valley that, at least amongst my circle, the Bay Area is called The Town.

Oh! Here’s a specific one: in Rhode Island, the southern part of the state is called South County even though there is no county called south.

Down here in the LA area, The Valley means the San Fernando Valley, even though it’s one of many.

Here in Idaho we use “up” for mountain dwellers as well as for any place northward. “Back east” begins at the Mississippi River. “Down south” begins at around the Mason-Dixon line. For southern states in the west I usually refer to the specific state. The midwest is “over”, as in “over in Kansas.”

I have often wondered if the U.S. had been established in the west first and spread eastward, if people would say “back west.”

Remember that *New Yorker *cartoon of the country, from the perspective of NYC? In many ways, to a New Yorker, there’s just, well, the City, the Hudson River, Jersey, and somewhere out there are LA and San Francisco.

I have known more than a few New Yorkers (well, metropolitan New Yorkers, extending well into New Jersey) who refer to New York merely as “The City.” Now that’s all well and good when they are in and around New York; after all, people who live in suburban areas around any large city will casually refer to their nearby city as “the city.” But New Yorkers are the only people I’ve met who will still call New York simply “the City” even when they’re hours away from there and, in fact, in another city altogether. I went to school in Philadelphia, and many times had the following conversation on meeting a new person:

Me: Where ya from?

Them: About 20 minutes outside the city.

Me: Oh, Philadelphia…?

Them (confused): No, New York…

Drives me crazy. :mad:

When I was a kid, when folks were going “up to the lakes” for the weekend, it was to any of several northern Indiana lakes. A string of industrial cities along the coast of Lake Michigan was “da region.” When the sky turned yellow-brown, and your nose crinkled with “the smell of money,” you were in da region. These days, most of the steel mills are gone, and the air is much better.

Modoc is a little bitty place not too far from here, and somehow it came to mean driving fast. “Did you see that Ford? He was really Modockin’!”

Actually, in constrast to the OP:

I am from the East Coast and when farther West, I would refer to “back East” since that was the center of my world. I was taken aback by folks in Missouri who would refer to “out East”, as if they were proceeding from the center of the world and heading out to somewhere else. :confused: :wink:

In the US the way locals refer to the Interstate highways varies by region.

Most places I’ve been refer to them as “I” and the highway number: I-40, I-270, etc.

When I grew up in northern New Jersey, I-80 was always called “Route 80” by the locals, as if it was just another state road or old US Highway 1 (“Route 1”). Since there was no NJ 80, there was no ambiguity, but it struck me as odd when I’ve been back.

In the LA area, and maybe more of Southern California, interstates are referred to as “The 260” or “The 78”. My guess is this comes from when the freeways had names (“The Santa Monica Freeway” became “The 10”).

Hijack: In an episode of the X-Files, Mulder is at FBI Headquarters in DC and a local gives him directions to Quantico, VA (where the FBI has a training center). “It’s just a few miles down the 95.” BZZzzzZZZZTTT!!! Wrong!! DC natives (or natives in neighboring Virginia or Maryland) do NOT talk that way. Get out of LA much, Chris Carter?

I hate it when the traffic reports in the greater L.A. area use the actual names of the freeways. I don’t know anyone who uses them consistently, and one freeway can seriously have three names along the stretch, which adds to the confusion. Or how about the Ventura Freeway? Do you mean the 134, or the 101 west of the 134/101/170 interchange? Technically, you should be able to tell by what town they’re mentioning, but that’s pretty hard, and if they’re only mentioning exits, it’s like they’re trying to make the report half useless.

I think your impression is accurate, but Down South is different for the Deep South. The Deep South is the states we are collectively vaguely afraid of, you know the one: Low standard of living, ranked very low in education, seemingly racist and very religiously oriented. Summed up as those places where the family trees don’t branch. What those states are is usually a little vague, but they are generally considered, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, parts of Kentucky, Tennessee and even West Virginia.
I think you will find this a common, if largely unspoken belief by those in the North East.

If you here someone talking about the Left Coast, they mean California.

Jim {Sorry for the offensiveness of the above, but it is what I have seen and heard all my life}

I’m glad you raised this point since I had even considered a separate thread for it, so as to avoid any hijacking involved. There are several “flavors” of The South in fairly common usage:

The Old South
The Deep South
The Confederacy
The Slave States
The Gulf States
The Mid South
maybe even others I’m not grabbing from my memory.

Some that your list omitted that (to me) are definitely in The South are Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia and (at least geographically) Florida. Whether Texas and Oklahoma qualify largely depends on whether The South is more relevant than The West in the topic under discussion.

I’m basically content with the states included in the SEC: the only ones not included are in the ACC. Those left out are North Carolina and Virginia.

The “Border States” of Missouri, Maryland, Kentucky, and (in some contexts) even Delaware are so designated in the Civil War frame of reference. I have seen West Virginia classified that way, too.

Those fuzzy areas like “The Midwest” and “The Northeast” probably have the same degree of “it depends” involved, but I am surely more aware of the way The South doesn’t automatically refer to any specific geography.

I was born and have spent most of my life in Texas, and most people here(central and east Texas) consider themselves to be Southern more than western. Growing up we pretty much considered anyone from further North than Dallas to be closing in on Yankee territory, however incorrect this may be in a civil war viewpoint, it gives you a look at how Texans view everyone else! In regards to the OP, we refer to the east coast as “Up North.”


In my family, ‘up north’ meant anywhere north of the Bemidji area.