Is this ever used for a place other than New York?
It’s common to refer to “Upstate New York” to refer to all of the state of New York that’s not New York City. But is it used anywhere else?
I look around for some reference outside New York, but couldn’t find much. The definition page at Merrium-Webster lists a bunch of quotes taken from news source, and every single on can be traced back to New York.
I posed the question to the English Stack Exchange. Some of the answers I got:
There are 50 states in the United States. Most of them have regions that are denoted as “upstate” or “downstate”, though there are local peculiarities. Michigan has “UP” for “Upper Peninsula” instead of generic “upstate”. Illinois has “downstate” but no “upstate”. Missouri, with large cities on both sides, has “outstate”, meaning not in the Kansas City or St. Louis area. And so it goes. Local terminology is, as I keep saying, local.
This is fair, but another commentor made the point that “Upstate New York” is understood by people outside New York, which is rare.
It needs to be acknowledged, though, that while upstate applied to a state other than New York, is likely to be used and understood only by those who live in that state or have regular dealings with it; upstate New York is a part of the vocabulary of quite a few people who have no particular connection with the region
Someone else pointed me to explicit Wikipedia articles for Upstate New York and Downstate New York (which I had never heard of before).
Also: Upstate California (which is north of the Bay Area) and Upstate South Carolina (the Greenville-Spartanburg area). However, another commentor qualified the Upstate California reference with:
[…] while the Wikipedia article on ‘upstate California’ shows that the phrase is sometimes used, it also shows that it is not at all analogous to upstate New York. It appears only in some highly specialised contexts, and is not a general-purpose, widely understood term for a part of the state.
Why I Looked It Up
I was in Madison, Wisconsin and need to meet someone for dinner in Steven’s Point, which is further north on I-39. The drive was gorgeous, and while I was on the road, I heard this lyric from Taylor Swift’s All Too Well:
Oh, your sweet disposition and my wide-eyed gaze
We’re singing in the car, getting lost upstate
I got to wondering if I was in “Upstate Wisconsin.”
I asked the guy I had dinner with if anyone uses that phrase. He said no.
Added on August 11, 2022
Someone else commented on the Stack Exchange question and said that, in Minnesota, anything outside of the Twin Cities is “outstate.” He linked to a discussion about this on forum, and conversation was mixed on it.
Added on October 10, 2022
In an article about New York politics:
This dispute envinces a larger rift between Democratic lawmakers in Albany – heavily represented by downstate liberals – and more conservative law enforcement and elected official upstate.