"Upstate" New York.....

Why are cities in the state of New York called “Upstate”? Every time I hear a news report or a radio announcer say “Upstate” New York, I get frustrated:mad:, why cant they just say the name of the damn city or town???:confused: You never hear anyone say “Upstate” Delaware, or “Upstate” Washington or “Upstate” Illinois ect. ect. People will say the name of the city or town for every other state in the union except New York. For many years, I thought Upstate was actually a city or town in New York because I heard the term so much! What the hell, did the people in New York band together and decide they want the name of their city or town to remain ANONYMOUS?! There is only ONE state in the union that can really have the cities and towns be called “Upstate” and that is Michigan, because Michigan REALLY DOES have a separate part of the state in the northern region, yet, even THEY don’t refer to the cities and towns as “Upstate”, they just simply say Marquette Michigan, or Manistique Michigan or Newberry Michigan ect. Television and radio news reporters are adamant, they WON’T say the name of the city or town when referring to somewhere in New York, they simply say “UPSTATE”…why???

The New York system is simple. Except for Long Island, your neighbor on the north side of you lives upstate*. Long Island makes it strange because people who lived further north on the island than I did in Westchester county would say I lived upstate.

However, you are asking about the news reports, and the reason they say upstate is because of the numerous towns there that wouldn’t be recognized by name. If it was a large city such as Buffalo they’d usually name it, or they might say Westchester County, or Rockland County which are close to the city. Also to some extent NYC city dwellers are only interested in knowing it’s not local, so anything north of say 287 is considered upstate and not of interest. I haven’t lived there since the 90s so the parameters may have changed a little.

*That’s just for fun, when I first moved there 287 was the usual dividing line.

Because New York City considers itself not just the center of the universe but the universe.

It’s not formal but I would say north of Rockland and Westchester.
As per the OP, have you ever been there? It’s like two different planets. A huge state but there are more people in the lower bit than the whole vast rest of the state. And the upstaters hate that most of the tax money goes to The City.

[quote=“candyj, post:1, topic:672698”]

Why are cities in the state of New York called “Upstate”? Every time I hear a news report or a radio announcer say “Upstate” New York, I get frustrated:mad:, why cant they just say the name of the damn city or town???:confused: You never hear anyone say “Upstate” Delaware, or “Upstate” Washington or “Upstate” Illinois ect. ect. /QUOTE]

There is a"downstate" Illinois Same kind of thing

I have heard a lot of Michiganders refer to being from the U.P. (Upper Peninsula) without naming their town. In fact, I’d go so far as to say most of them say U.P. instead of the town name.

Except, apparently, Poughkeepsie. Any time I mentioned being born in “upstate NY,” people would ask what town. If I answered with Poughkeepsie, I was told that it is NOT “upstate,” even though it’s quite a ways north of NYC. I finally stopped saying “upstate NY” and just say Poughkeepsie. Then people say, “where’s that?”


I really don’t see much difference between New York and Michigan in this regard, except that in Michigan the northern part is smaller, and in New York the northern part is larger.

Also people in the city think that Peekskill in Westchester is Poughkeepsie. I lived in the town of Cortlandt in Westchester and had to deal with people who thought that was the city or county of Cortland further north.

Buffalo is not Upstate.

Buffalo is Western, NY

Carry on.

I had a friend whbo lived in Poughkeepsie because she worked in Albany and her husband worked in NYC. Maybe it doesn’t count as upstate if people commute from there.

There’s no hard-and-fast dividing line; NYC and LI consider anything north of Westchester County upstate. Albany might consider anyone north of Poughkeepsie. Some would consider Buffalo upstate; others give it a different region.

The reason it continues is to differentiate between New York City and the rest of the state is that when people hear “New York,” they automatically think of NYC. That can be misleading if something is happening in Schroon Lake. Upstate is also different – less populated, with mountainous areas, river valleys, and lake areas.

Long Island usually has its own designation, which is also silly, since there are places on Long Island that are nowhere near my home town.

The New York State Tourism Office puts the state in 11 regions: NYC, Long Island, Hudson Valley, the Catskills, Capital-Saratoga, the Adirondacks, Central NY, the Finger Lakes, Greater Niagara, and Chautauqua-Allegheny.

I am sorry the OP has to live in upstate New York.

I figure upstate starts no further south than about I-287 or the Tappan Zee. Also that at some point you’re no longer in upstate NY but in central and eventually western NY. I just can’t decide how far west you have to get away from the Hudson to no longer be upstate but in central or western NY. I’d probably include the Southern Tier (basically almost everything bordering Pennsylvania west of the Catskills) its own region in addition to the list from the tourism office, taking away the appropriate parts from the Finger Lakes, Central NY, and Chautauqua-Allegheny.

Even a small state like NJ is broken into smaller regions that have their own personality. There is a big difference between North Jersey, Central Jersey and South Jersey. I could break it down even further. I’m sure it’s the same in other states.

Since the OP is more a statement of opinion than a question, let’s move this to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

Nah - you’re in upstate all the way out to Ripley.
Update just differentiates between the city, the various regions (and I’ve lived in three of them) are flavors of upstate.

The thing is, “upstate” is not merely a location, it’s also a direction, specifically north, from NYC. Just as in Manhattan “uptown” and “downtown” are both locations and directions.

Hell, when I lived in Soho, anything north of 14th street seemed like “Upstate.”

Depends on the usage, really. If I were traveling to Buffalo or Rochester, I would never say I was going “upstate”. But if I’m distinguishing between my employer’s offices-“downstate” is NYC and Long Island and “upstate” is everything else. NYC inmates talk about going “upstate” when they refer to the transfer from the local jail to state prison- even though they may end up in a prison in Queens.

It may be “Western New York” if you’re in Buffalo, but if you live in the Bronx, it’s part of upstate. We didn’t make those kind of fine distinctions.:slight_smile:

I’m from the Bronx, but went to school in Ithaca. That was “upstate” as far we were concerned, not central or western New York.

When I lived in Colorado I heard a guy tell a girl he was from Westchester County, which he described as “upstate New York.” But he was just trying to avoid sounding suburban.

As a Brit, if I hear “New York”, I think Manhattan skyscrapers, or perhaps Long Island at a stretch. “Upstate NY” makes me think of a more rural place with mountains and forests. OK, I imagine there are still some quite big towns that are considered “upstate” but I still think it’s a handy signifier.