Northeastern United States
From Academic Kids
The U.S. Northeast
Location in the U.S.
|Total Area:||464,536 km²|
|Largest City:||New York, New York 8,008,278|
|Highest Elevation:||Mt. Washington 1,916 m|
|Lowest Elevation:||Sea Level 0 m|
|Largest State:||New York 141,205 km²|
|Smallest State:||Rhode Island 2,709 km²|
|Census Bureau Divisions|
The Northeastern United States is a region of the United States of America defined by the US Census Bureau. The Northeast is bordered to the north by Canada, to the west by the Midwest, to the south by the South, and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. Its largest city, New York City, is also the largest city and metropolitan area in the United States.
As defined by the Census Bureau, the Northeast region of the United States covers nine states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Many unofficial classifications of the region add Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia, Virginia, and West Virginia to the region (especially Maryland and Delaware), while others limit the Northeast to only New England, the New York City Area, the Philadelphia Area, and the Baltimore-Washington Area.
The Northeast has a landscape varying from the rocky coast of New England to the fertile farmland of the Ohio River Valley behind the Allegheny Front in Pennsylvania. The Isles of Shoals near the Maine/New Brunswick, Canada border begins the rocky Atlantic coastline of the Northeast. Jagged cliffs rise up to a hundred feet above the ocean on Maine's northern coast; south of West Quoddy Head Peninsula in Maine, the eastern most point in the United States, the coastline subsides to sandy beaches which extend through the rest of the Northeast's Atlantic coastline. Between Cape Cod in Massachusetts and Cape May in New Jersey are a series of large islands including Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, Block Island, Long Island, Manhattan, and Staten Island.
Four major rivers' mouths pierce the coastline to empty into the Atlantic: the Delaware at the New Jersey/Delaware border, the Hudson at the New York/New Jersey border, the Connecticut in Connecticut, and the Kennebec in Maine. The Kennebec River river extends over one hundred kilometers past Augusta, Maine and into the thick pine forests of Maine. The Hudson empties into New York Harbor in the New York Metropolitan Area and extends north between the Berkshires and the Catskill Mountains before it terminates in Upstate New York at its source in the Adirondack Mountains. The Mohawk River flows eastward from its source near Syracuse, New York between the Catskills and the Adirondacks before merging with the Hudson north of Albany.
The Connecticut River flows south, running along the border of New Hampshire and Vermont between the Green Mountains and White Mountains, before flowing through Springfield, Massachusetts, and Hartford, Connecticut, on its way to empty into Long Island Sound. In the White Mountains of New Hampshire is Mt. Washington, the tallest mountain in the Northeast and the windiest location in the United States. The White Mountains were also the location of the famous geological formation called the Old Man of the Mountain, which collapsed in 2003. To the east of the Green Mountains on the New York/Vermont border, and extending into Canada, is the glacier-formed Lake Champlain, where Vermont's largest city Burlington is located.
The Delaware River flows from its source between the Pocono Mountains and the Catskills down through the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, through the Bethlehem/Allentown, Trenton, and Philadelphia areas before emptying into Delaware Bay on the Delaware/New Jersey Border. The Susquehanna River begins in the Catskill Mountains of New York and winds down a valley between the Allegheny Plateau and the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania before crossing the border into Maryland in the U.S. South and emptying into Chesapeake Bay.
To the North and West of the Susquehanna are the Finger Lakes of New York, so called because they resemble human fingers, and the Northeast's borders with the Great Lakes of Lake Ontario in New York and Lake Erie in both Pennsylvania and New York. On an isthmus between the two Great Lakes on the New York/Ontario border near Buffalo is one of the most famous waterfalls in the world, Niagara Falls. To the south, flowing out of the Allegheny Plateau is the Ohio River which flows through Pittsburgh and on into the U.S. Midwest where it ultimately merges with the Mississippi River.
New England is perhaps the best-defined region of the U.S., with more uniformity and more of a shared heritage than other regions of the country. New England has played a dominant role in American history. From the late 18th century to the mid to late 19th century, New England was the nation's cultural leader in political, educational, cultural and intellectual thought. During this time, it was the country's economic center.
The earliest European settlers of New England were English Protestants who came in search of religious liberty. They gave the region its distinctive political format town meetings (an outgrowth of meetings held by church elders), in which citizens gathered to discuss issues of the day. Town meetings still function in many New England communities today and have been revived as a form of dialogue in the national political arena.
Education is another of the region's strongest legacies. The cluster of top-ranking universities and colleges in New Englandincluding Harvard, Yale, MIT, Tufts, Brown, Dartmouth, Wellesley, Smith, Williams, Amherst, and Wesleyanis unequaled by any other region. America's first college, Harvard, was founded at Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1636. A number of the graduates from these schools end up settling in the region after school, providing the area with a well educated populace and its most valuable resource, the area being relatively lacking in natural resources, besides "ice, rocks, and fish". True to their enterprising nature, New Englanders have used their brains to make up the gap, for instance, in the 19th century, they made money off their frozen pond water, by shipping ice in fast clipper ships to tropical locations before refrigeration was invented.
As some of the original New England settlers migrated westward, immigrants from Canada, Ireland, Italy, and eastern Europe moved into the region. Despite a changing population, much of the original spirit of New England remains. It can be seen in the simple woodframe houses and quaint white church steeples that are features of many small towns, and in the traditional lighthouses that dot the Atlantic coast. New England is also well known for its mercurial weather, its crisp chill, and vibrantly colored foliage in autumn. The region is a popular tourist destination. As a whole, the area of New England tends to be progressive in its politics, albeit restrained in its personal mores. Due to the fact that the area is the closest in the United States to England, the region often shows a greater receptivity to European ideas and culture in relation to the rest of the country.
The extreme southwestern part of the region (that is, the western third or so of Connecticut) is sometimes considered culturally and demographically to be more like the Mid-Atlantic region due to its very close proximity to New York City.
These areas provided the young United States with heavy industry and served as the "melting pot" of new immigrants from Europe. Cities grew along major shipping routes and waterways. Such flourishing cities included New York City on the Hudson River, and Philadelphia on the Delaware River.
The Mid-Atlantic region was settled by a wider range of people than New England. Dutch immigrants moved into the lower Hudson River Valley in what is now New York State. Swedes went to Delaware. An English Protestant sect, the Friends (Quakers), settled Pennsylvania. In time, all these settlements fell under English control, but the region continued to be a magnet for people of diverse nationalities.
Early settlers were mostly farmers and traders, and the region served as a bridge between North and South. Philadelphia, midway between the northern and southern colonies, was home to the Continental Congress, the convention of delegates from the original colonies that organized the American Revolution. The same city was the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the U.S. Constitution in 1787.
Culturally, the Northeast is somewhat different from the rest of the United States. While some regions of the United States, such as the U.S. South, are predominately Protestant, half of the states in the Northeast are predominantly Catholic, with Rhode Island having the highest percentage of Catholics in the U.S. The Northeast is also home to many other religious groups. For example, New York has the highest percentage of Jews in the nation, followed by New Jersey. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Maryland also have a significant percentage of Jews relative to most other U.S. states.
There are many different accents in the Northeast, including:
- the Boston accent, and more generally the Eastern New England family of accents, which extend from eastern Massachusetts up to Maine;
- the New York accent
- the Philadelphia accent
The Northeast is also one of the most ethnically diverse region in the U.S. It has high populations of African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians, although it has a generally low number of Native Americans. The high level of diversity has much to do with New York City, which was and still is an entry point for many immigrants, however, the other major cities of the region have significant ethnic diversity as well. The three largest cities in the census-defined Northeast (New York, Philadelphia, and Boston) have the same four largest ancestries: African American, Italian, Irish, and Puerto Rican.
As is the case in much of the United States, people from many European American bacgkrounds live in the Northeast, although white Northeasterners frequently identify with their ethnic background more strongly than do whites from other U.S. regions. Massachusetts, particuarly in the Boston area, is regarded as the Irish-American capital of the world. Brooklyn, New York has long been known for its many Italian-Americans (many of whom have moved to outlying suburban areas). The New York City borough also historically is a major center of the Jewish-American population; while a significant community still lives there, in the mid-20th century Jews made up over 50% of the borough's white population (the city as a whole also contained over 50% of the entire country's Jewish population at the time). Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is home to the famous Pennsylvania Dutch (who are actually of German descent). Overall, the Northeast has high percentages of people of Jewish, Italian, Irish, German, and French-Canadian descent. The cities of New Bedford, Massachusetts and Newark, New Jersey both have high populations of people of Portuguese descent; increasingly so does Mount Vernon, New York, a small city that borders New York City to the north which also has a significant African American and Caribbean–West Indian community.
Because religious attendance in the majority Catholic Northeast remains high, whereas most of the Northeastern Protestant churches have had decades of dropping attendance, the region increasingly has separated from the Midwest or South, which are sometimes derided as the Bible Belt. The center of American Protestantism, once so prominent in the seminaries, universities and churches of the Northeast, has shifted to the Midwest and South, and this major shift has contributed to ill feelings and mistrust among the regions.
In the 20th century, most of New England's traditional industries have relocated to states or foreign countries where goods can be made more cheaply. In more than a few factory towns, skilled workers have been left without jobs. The gap has been partly filled by the microelectronics, computer and biotech industries, fed by those same educational institutions.
Like New England, the Mid-Atlantic region has seen much of its heavy industry relocate elsewhere. Other industries, such as drug manufacturing and communications, have taken up the slack. The economy of the New York City and Washington, DC sub-regions are more complex; the fortunes of the former are heavily (but far from completely) dependent on the financial industry and the stock market, the latter's economy is heavily related on the U.S. Federal government and related services.
The region's politics are largely due to a strong coalition of demographics predominant in the North that are overwhelmingly Democratic. These groups include the majority Catholic population with a significant urban, Democratic legacy (this would apply to the Jewish population as well), artists, educators, and intellectuals of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia and the Ivy League; the large minority populations of those same cities; a large socially conservative but economically liberal blue-collar population throughout the area; and the often socially liberal suburbanites of New Jersey, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.
This also continues its contrast and rivalry with the conservative South that has existed since the nation's founding.
Within the Northeast, there are great political rivalries between the cities and the suburbs that surround them. This is particularly prominent in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York City, where the cities must compete with the suburbs and rural areas for state funding.
Some Famous Northeasterners
- Abigail Adams
- John Adams
- John Quincy Adams
- Samuel Adams
- Woody Allen
- Bill Cosby
- Mario Cuomo
- Howard Dean
- Robert DeNiro
- Benjamin Franklin
- Rudy Giuliani
- Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Edward Kennedy
- John F. Kennedy
- John Kerry
- John D. Rockefeller
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- Franklin Roosevelt
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Jonas Salk
- Al Sharpton
- Bruce Springsteen
- Howard Stern
- Donald Trump
- Rudy Vallee
- Phillis Wheatley
- Walt Whitman