Is there a difference...

between “uptown” and “downtown”? I’ve heard the main business/shopping district referred to as “uptown” in one place, “downtown” in another. I checked Mirriam Webster, and it gave “uptown” a definition of “the upper part of town, specifically the residential area”. I’ve never heard the residential areas referred to as “uptown”, all residential areas I’ve known have just been classified by their geographic/local locations (i.e. Southside, Northside, Eastside, Westside, The Hood, University, or the Suburbs.)

So, then, any thoughts on the Uptown/Downtown issue?

Veni, Vidi, Visa … I came, I saw, I bought.

Petula Clark once sang a song about Downtown, but never one about Uptown.
The lights are much brighter there, you can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares when you’re Downtown. Not Uptown.

Can’t speak for other cities, but in New York, “Downtown” is the southernmost part of Manhattan and “Uptown” is the northern half of Manhattan (the rest of it is “Midtown”. “Downtown Brooklyn” refers to the part of Brooklyn that’s closest to Downtown Manhattan. I don’t think there’s any such thing as Uptown Brooklyn, or of an Uptown or Downtown of the other three boroughs.

I’d guess (but it’s only a guess) that in other cities, Downtown means south and Uptown means north and where this appears to be not true, it either used to be true (one area designated as downtown and then the city expanded southward) or is connected with a different Downtown regarding which it is true (as in the Downtown Brooklyn example, above).

Chaim Mattis Keller

“Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks.”
– Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

On the West coast downdown always means the commercial district. You don’t hear the term “uptown” much. To me uptown is where Billy Joel’s girlfriend lives; like Park Ave. or some other swanky residential section of a town.

Not “downdown” – downtown!

In Pittsburgh, “downtown” refers to the central business district, which is west of most of the city (for you geography buffs out there, it’s centered at the point where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the Ohio River - this area is called the Point. Such imagination!).

There is a specific neighborhood called “Uptown”, but I’m not sure exactly where it is. I have the impression that it’s not the best part of town, but I could be wrong.

The Cat In The Hat

Well, in NY City, uptown is both a direction (north) and, in a broad loosely defined generic sense, a part of Manhattan (72nd Street is; 38th Street isn’t). Likewise for downtown (south, obviously). The subway entrances often specify UPTOWN ONLY, meaning that there is no way to cross over to the other platform and that the platform you’ll be on if you enter here is the one where the northbound trains stop.

Designated Optional Signature at Bottom of Post

But if you want a high-class girlfriend, look for an uptown girl, like Billy Joel did.

Basically:[ul][li]Uptown - ritzy, residential area[/li][li]Downtown - commercial retail area with restaurants, bars, theatres, and clubs.[/ul][/li]Both areas of which are within the city. Otherwise they’re the suburbs and the malls.

Where in Pittsburgh is Uptown? I have lived there for 25 years and have never heard of it. I do know where downtown is, and I agree about the lack of imagination in naming the point where the 3 rivers meet “the point.”

Also, it seems that even small towns have a downtown. My boyfriend is from a town of 3000 people, and they still refer to the one block business district as downtown.

I suspect that the terms represent a New Yorkism which has leaked into general usage. As has been noted, NYC is a long north-south island.

In NYC, ‘uptown’ and ‘downtown’ can simply mean ‘north’ and ‘south,’ as in “When you get to Broadway, head uptown.”

But, the terms also mean specific geographic regions. The northern part of the island is mostly residential, but most notably, some swanky high rises on Park Avenue and the Upper East Side. This is the citified Uptown section that Billy Joel sings about (not the rundown apartments in some other sections of the upper isle).

The commercial/business district (where the Twin Towers and Wall Street are) is ‘down’ on a map (south is down) – thus, Downtown.

Because the commercial, skyscraping section of NYC is referred to as “Downtown,” many other cities call their commercial section ‘Downtown’ regardless of its geographic orientation.

Except Philadelphia. Its downtown is called ‘Center City’ – and it is in the center of the city. I guess it’s the younger cities that have followed NYC’s conventions.