Whether we’re aware of it or not, many Americans have a specific way of identifying themselves within a particular state or region. How many of these regional identities do you recognize?
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
Where It Started
A foreigner turned to an “Ask an American” online forum to understand how Americans identify themselves regionally. They offered several observations, saying that their friends in Maryland “tend to identify with the counties they were raised in when talking to other Marylanders.”
Furthermore, their New Jersey friends “almost exclusively sort themselves according to their proximity to New York City or Philadelphia between North, South, or sometimes Central Jersey.”
1: Consider This
A Maryland resident chimes in that “Maryland also breaks down by roughly DMV, Eastern Shore, B-More, and Western Maryland.” As for Baltimore and D.C.? They’re sometimes “combined as one region, either called Central Maryland or just Maryland.”
2: Sports It Is
An Alabama resident says “location doesn’t matter” within their state when trying to identify other locals. “All that matters is if you yell ‘War Eagle’ or ‘Roll Tide.'”
3: So California
Locals in the Bay Area of California have several options for identifying themselves when talking to other residents, says one local. San Francisco, South Bay, East Bay, Peninsula, and North Bay are all identities that Bay Area residents automatically understand.
The commenter mentions how different the Bay Area’s identities are from Southern California, which “has very obviously different regions like Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Bernardino.”
4: Mass What?
A Massachusetts local implies that residents have no problem identifying themselves as a “Masshole.” From their point of view, “If anyone from MA is offended by Masshole, they’re a transplant.”
5: Order, Please
A Texan says that locals in their state typically start by saying the city they’re from before breaking out into a region. The regions are as follows: “Central Texas, East Texas (Piney Woods), West Texas, North Texas, the Panhandle (Llano Estacado), the Coast or Coastal Bend, the Valley, and for those particularly close to Mexico, the Border.”
6: Texas Caveat
From the Texan perspective of a different commenter, if one gets a flat tire in East Texas, locals know that you need to have a firearm. Should the same situation happen in West Texas, “somebody will bring you a gun while they change your tire for you.”
7: The City
A New York City native says that locals who live in the outer boroughs of NYC use the phrase they’re “from the city.” As for those who live in the actual city? “People from Manhattan will let you know.”
8: Upstate NY
The same commenter says, “Anything other than NYC is ‘Upstate.'” Buffalo, Albany, Plattsburgh, and Westchester are “all the same” as being part of Upstate New York.
9: Oh, Ohio
Buckeyes keep things simple on the regional identity front, simply stating what city they’re from, says a local. “But the big divide is Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus.”
10: So Many Identities
“New England is weird,” a San Diego native says, because they use many metrics to identify themselves: “Where they were born, where they were raised, where their grandparents were born or raised, [and] where in Europe they came from.”
The San Diegan couldn’t get over how big of a theme the length of time one’s relatives have been in New England was. From their perspective, “If it’s not over 150 years, your identity is invalid.”
11: Making It Easy
A Nevada local says there’s “Las Vegas, and not Las Vegas” when residents from different regions chat among themselves. On a more serious note, they say that people mostly identify themselves by counties after establishing the Las Vegas part. It’s “still a bit crazy because the counties here are huge,” they say.
12: Count the Ways
A Michigan resident lists the six “major” ways for people in their state to identify each other. They are “the Southeast, the West, the Northern Lower Peninsula, the UP, the Thumb, and Central Michigan.”
This particular commenter is from the Southeast, and it’s off-putting when locals stretch where they’re from. “People [around here] usually will say they’re from the SE/Metro Detroit, or if they’re being real cheeky, ‘Detroit,’ even though most of them live 15-20 min+ outside city limits.”
13: Seattle vs Washington
A Seattle resident says, “Seattleites are very different from everyone else in the state of Washington. A lot of people like to say that Western Washington is different from Eastern Washington, which it is, but Western Washingtonians aren’t even slightly the same as Seattleites.” Case in point? “A native Seattleite will tell you that they’re a native Seattleite, the same way that vegans will tell you they’re vegan.”
14: You Don’t Get It
It never ceases to amaze a northeastern Pennsylvania native that many Pennsylvanians aren’t aware the northeast part of the state exists. “When I tell someone from southwestern PA that they think northwestern and ask if I was close to Erie.” Another person chimes in, saying, “Pennsylvania is the state that I think has the least coherent identity.”
15: It Takes Two
A Kansas local says that locals primarily identify themselves using one of two identities: “Western Kansan (dry, no trees Kansas), [or] Eastern Kansan (hilly, lots of trees and urban Kansas.)”
16: Don’t Do It
A Kansas local says that people get downright offended when they’re associated with the wrong part of their state. “Everyone in Louisville is part of the Midwest, and everyone else in Kentucky is the South. People in Louisville really hate being associated with the South.”
17: Three Names Is the Charm
Arizonans make it easy to identify themselves when talking with fellow locals. “There is the greater Phoenix area, northern Arizona, and southern Arizona,” says one local. Another commenter agrees but says you can replace those names with “Flagstaff, Tucson, and the Valley” instead.
A Coloradan says there are four, maybe five, ways for locals to identify themselves. “Plains, Front Range, Mountains/High Country, Western Slope. Fort Collins/Loveland is also said to be ‘Northern Colorado.'”
19: Compass Identity
In Indiana, people classify themselves as being from the southern, central, or northern part of the state. An Indiana local agrees with the commenter but says, “Northwest and Northeast like to differentiate, too.”
20: Not Quite the States
A Puerto Rico resident chimes in, saying locals “nearly exclusively identify themselves as Puerto Rican when speaking with someone from the mainland.” Should one be prompted to expand, “you might get a more specific answer, but in general, there is a metro/isla divide between rural and metro area San Juan.”
21: Making Up Names
Most people who live in Illinois will identify themselves by saying they’re from the northern, central, or southern part of the state, comments a local. The exceptions? “Those from the Chicago area will say Chicago or Chicagoland. Those from the Illinois side of the St. Louis area will say Metro East.”
Sometimes, geography and identities don’t go hand in hand. According to a Tennessee local, “Tennesseans are southerners, but the state itself is identified as West (generally Memphis and surrounding), Middle (Nashville/surrounding), and East (Knoxville and surrounding).”
The Tennessee resident notes that although Chattanooga is in the southern part of the state, people “never say ‘south Tennessee’ since it’s practically north Georgia. Same with Clarksville to the north, it’s thought of as ‘almost Kentucky.'”
23: The Mouse
A Florida resident chimes in with the six terms Floridians use to identify themselves among each other: “South Florida, SW Florida, Tampa Bay Area, central Florida, Jax, and the panhandle.” Another Floridian agrees, although they note, “I just always say I’m from the mouse area.” Looking at you, Mickey and Minnie.
24: City or Compass
Iowans from a city say the city they’re from, says a local. Otherwise, “We typically say NE, SE, SW, NW, indicating where our small town is at.”
25: BBQ Style
North Carolina has three regions that people primarily identify themselves with, says one local: Eastern NC, the Piedmont, and Western NC. “People in these regions identify themselves by the style of BBQ they prefer.”
26: Them vs Us
A Nebraskan says that there are only two ways locals identify each other. One is either from the Lincoln/Omaha metro area or “all the rest of Nebraska.”
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