U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > General U.S.
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 11-08-2009, 06:00 AM
 
2,816 posts, read 5,383,911 times
Reputation: 3758

Advertisements

I think we all agree that New England is one of the most distinctive regions in the country, but what exactly makes it culturally different to other Northeastern states like New York or Pennsylvania?

Discuss.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 11-08-2009, 07:23 AM
 
5,116 posts, read 4,622,359 times
Reputation: 4375
Puritans. They founded colonies and settled in the areas that became Massachutsetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Maine.

Pennsylvania was founded by Quakers and settled by Quakers and similar German religious sects.

New York was founded originally by the Dutch and later settled by anyone who didn't want to live with Puritans or Quakers.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-08-2009, 07:30 AM
 
2,816 posts, read 5,383,911 times
Reputation: 3758
Would you say those early influences are still noticeable today in the states' personalities?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-08-2009, 07:35 AM
 
5,116 posts, read 4,622,359 times
Reputation: 4375
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geography Freak View Post
Would you say those early influences are still noticeable today in the states' personalities?
Yes, I would. Immigration may have altered the customs of these states, but the original influences are still there.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-08-2009, 10:05 AM
 
Location: Huntington Beach, CA
5,847 posts, read 11,015,870 times
Reputation: 3829
I almost would consider the NY Counties of Columbia, Dutchess, Putnam and eastern Suffolk as part of New England.

But the key difference of that region to the rest of the country is how much they value education.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-08-2009, 01:00 PM
 
Location: New Hampshire
2,257 posts, read 6,968,983 times
Reputation: 4061
I think historical settlement patterns do have a lot to do with what makes New England so unique as a region. This uniqueness shows up even in the most unexpected places. For example, take this map that shows the distribution of small rivers called "brooks" (in blue) and "creeks" in (orange):



Although the use of "brook" does extend slightly into upstate NY and NJ, it is largely a marker of New England.

The original settlers of New England came predominantly from East Anglia (the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, and Essex in England). They brought many of the distinctive characteristics of their home region with them -- dialect, architecture, and religion (East Anglia was the Puritan stronghold), to name a few.

Just as the geographic boundaries of Appalachia are linked to the extent of Scots-Irish settlement in the South, New England is separated from the rest of the country by a boundary between settlement groups. Geographically speaking, this boundary lies just east of the Hudson River Valley, following the rugged terrain of the Litchfield Hills, the Berkshires, the Taconic Range and then along Lake Champlain. To the west of this boundary, the original settlers were Dutch:



(Note how the Mid-Atlantic states - NY, PA, etc. - were the original American "melting pot." New England was culturally and linguistically much more homogenous, and distinctly English).

The New England colonies also developed a very unique form of government, one which is still distinctive of the region today: the town meeting. This system is further emphasized by the division of the New England states into municipalities called New England towns. This form of governance is found only in the six New England states and nowhere else in the country. You may notice that on election night, other states' election results are reported by county -- but the results in New England are reported by town.

When colonial settlers established towns in New England, they constructed them around a common. The towns were very centralized; the meeting house, the church, and the schoolhouse were all built adjacent to the common, which was a shared grazing plot for the townspeople's cattle and also a place for the townspeople to meet and converse. There was a strong community-based mentality which I think is still very apparent in the region today.

New Englanders are sometimes criticized as being "clannish" or suspicious of outsiders, but I think this ties directly into the very strong community-based, local-based mentality. After all, the Yankees who remain in New England today are not those whose ancestors were drawn to the wild, open West; their ancestors were much more comfortable in their clustered, Old World villages. Subsequent waves of non-British immigrants -- notably from Ireland, French Canada, and Italy -- adapted to this clannish, small community-oriented culture.

Although New Englanders tend to be much more "British" in the sense that they are more reserved than other Americans (and are certainly much less forward and outgoing than their immediate neighbors in New York, generally), I believe that New Englanders are in fact extremely close within social groups and communities. In other words, a New Englander is not as gregarious or quick to make friends with a stranger as a Southerner, but when they do cultivate friends after time, they tend to be very loyal. Don't expect a New Englander to bake you a pie when you move into their neighborhood, but if your car gets stuck in the snow, neighbors that you've never spoken to will be there without being asked.

This brings us to the concept of social capital. The political scientist Robert Putnam evaluated this sense of "inter-connectivity" within communities across the United States, and mapped geographic patterns:



Interestingly, New England stands out as a bastion of relatively high social capital, in addition to those regions to which New England contributed most of the early American settlers -- the Upper Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. Of course, we should also note that these regions experienced heavy immigration from northern Europe, importing another culture deeply rooted in strong social capital. To some extent, one may argue that cultures originating in very cold or otherwise harsh climates show, by necessity, more inter-reliance among community members.

It is important to remember that, compared to the other Northeastern states, the terrain of New England is particularly inconducive to agriculture. In addition to the harsh climate (at the confluence of weather fronts from every direction), New England sits largely upon granite, and a lot of it (most of the US sits on limestone). Farmers used to quip that their best crop was stones -- and if you see all the stone walls in New England, you'll see all the work that was involved in clearing a field of stones. New England lost many farmers to the allure of more fertile land out west.

Observe the land use in the Northeast today:



New England also lost many farmers to the allure of financial stability provided by factory work. The region was the first to embrace the Industrial Revolution that it observed in Britain. As such, it was also the first region to experience de-industrialization and the move towards the service sector. New England is not undergoing the same kind of mass deindustrialization as in neighboring Northeastern states that belong to the Rust Belt.

There is also, I think, an important difference in political heritage between New England and other parts of the Northeast. New England has always been particularly receptive to emerging European idealogies and has long been a cradle of more "progressive" ideas. New England was the original stronghold of the Republican Party, back when its platform included things like abolitionism, women's rights, environmentalism, etc.

Today, most urban areas along the East Coast can be described as "liberal" or generally adhering to the principles of the modern Democratic Party, but New England stands out from other Northeastern states if you look at the big picture:



Every single county in New England (except for one) voted for Obama in the 2008 Election. Compare these results to those in the Mid-Atlantic states, where huge swaths of (mostly rural) areas voted Republican. While the Mid-Atlantic states appear to show a largely rural-urban divide, even the most rural areas of New England voted Democratic.

The answer for this, I believe, lies in a shared ideology of social libertarianism that is quite prevalent throughout New England. In other words, the "right wing" of New England politics - the "Yankee Republican" - can actually be described as "liberal" on social issues like religion, gay marriage, etc., compared to Republicans in other parts of the country. This libertarian philosophy is perhaps best captured in New Hampshire's state motto: "Live free or die."

It seems that this philosophy is deeply linked to the character of the region as a whole. I talked about the perception of New Englanders by outsiders as "reserved" or "aloof." But from a native's perspective, these traits are merely indicative of a desire to provide strangers with their privacy. There is a very strong sense of "live and let live," I think.

Did that answer your question?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-08-2009, 01:21 PM
 
Location: Michaux State Forest
1,276 posts, read 2,995,221 times
Reputation: 1426
^ ^ Wow, yes I think you "answered" the question quite well. I personally love everything about New England and would move there in a holy second if I could afford it. I love the independent spirit so prevelent there. Ppl may appear cold or gruff on the outside but they will come thru in an instant to help you out. I've spent almost all my recent vacations in N.E. and I've never had a negative experience in N.E. I think it's interesting that although most New Englanders are socially progressive, most would shoot themselves before they "went on the county", welfare is discouraged as self-reliance is prized. These are only my observations of course.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-08-2009, 02:16 PM
 
2,816 posts, read 5,383,911 times
Reputation: 3758
Fascinating stuff, Verseau. I'll have to look further into the concept of "social capital".

One think I notice when comparing NE to England is that NE is more monolithically liberal than England. For instance, Thatcher is still a hero for about half of England, and a far right party like the BNP is making in-roads in the north of the country. Also, there are openly right-wing newspapers like the Daily Telegraph or the Daily Mail with large circulations, which probably wouldn't be so succesful in New England, unless you consider the Boston Herald an equivalent.

There is a segment of the English population with political views more akin to those of the stereotypical Texan than those of the stereotypical New Englander.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-08-2009, 05:12 PM
 
Location: 30-40N 90-100W
13,856 posts, read 22,955,873 times
Reputation: 6679
I was considering saying something, but Verseau is from New England and covered it astonishingly well. So mostly just here to say good job!

Although one small element maybe under-covered is New England I think received more Irish-Irish or Southern Irish than many to most other regions of the US. Due to that New England has a higher amount of lapsed Catholics or ex-Catholics than other regions and lapsed Catholics tend to be among the most socially liberal people. Also New England, going back to the Puritans, tended to be willing to believe society should be remade for the better. So they supported abolitionism, the Progressive movement, and now social liberalism.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-08-2009, 05:23 PM
 
Location: where my heart is
5,642 posts, read 7,966,090 times
Reputation: 1661
Default You and I are of the same cloth

Quote:
Originally Posted by lilred0005 View Post
^ ^ Wow, yes I think you "answered" the question quite well. I personally love everything about New England and would move there in a holy second if I could afford it. I love the independent spirit so prevelent there. Ppl may appear cold or gruff on the outside but they will come thru in an instant to help you out. I've spent almost all my recent vacations in N.E. and I've never had a negative experience in N.E. I think it's interesting that although most New Englanders are socially progressive, most would shoot themselves before they "went on the county", welfare is discouraged as self-reliance is prized. These are only my observations of course.
I was born and raised in NYC. I lived for 20 years on LI, Suffok County. Yes, it is about as close to New England as you can get in NY.

I LOVE New England. My daughter went to college for 2 years in Maine. She played ice hockey. We spent a lot of time travelling to Ct., Ma., NH, RI, Vt (love Burlington). and Me. It was so beautiful.

I would so much rather be anywhere there than here.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > General U.S.
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top