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View Poll Results: Washington DC: Southern, Northern, or No Man's Land?
Northern City with Southern Overtones 13 33.33%
Southern city with Northern Overtones 4 10.26%
A hybrid of both 13 33.33%
No Man's Land- its neither duck nor pond. 9 23.08%
Voters: 39. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 02-26-2010, 09:35 AM
 
Location: Arlington, VA
182 posts, read 476,304 times
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LOL @ that above picture. That's on Rte 13 going from MD into VA way out on the eastern shore. Definitely not from DC crossing into VA.
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Old 02-26-2010, 10:19 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,269,309 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpterp View Post
You're right cosmopolitan is subjective. I was actually talking about most of the other things on his list. I also pointed out a few things earlier that aren't subjective:

- a relatively high population density (higher than any major city in the South, besides Miami) despite the self-imposed ban on skyscrapers
-an high abundance of row homes
-a majority Catholic population
-an excellent transit system (only New York's NYCTA Subway has a higher ridership)
-extremely liberal politics

in addition to most of what DC said, especially:

-very Walkable (NYC, Boston, Philly) & Urban (Boston, NYC & Philly)
-Weather (NYC & Philly)
-Educated (Boston)
-High Cost of Living, High Salary & Wages (NYC & Boston)


There is probably no solid measurable statistic that ties DC to the South. I'll definitely agree that there are definitely Southern influences in DC's history (as well as Maryland's and Delaware's), but even if you go back to the Civil War DC was obviously pro-Union. One of the reasons VA took Alexandria back form the District was disagreements over the slave trade, of which Alexandria was a major hub.

Today, DC is, above-all, a unique city, and after that (if it has to fall in to a category) a Northern city. At most it's 10% Southern, and that almost entirely has to do with it's history. I think it's pretty obvious that a foreigner who decides to visit Richmond, Charleston, Boston, and New York would readily group DC with the latter two.

As for Baltimore, while I've heard many, many different arguments why Baltimore is Northern. The only case I've heard for it being Southern is Lincoln's arrest of MD officials and the riot--an argument full of many holes, one of them being that MD didn't have enough votes to secede. Anyway that city's devlopment since the time of the Civil War follows solidly Northern path, almost identical to Philadelphia.
Some points taken. I think the topic would make for an interesting essay for a high school student.

But I still take issue with some of your "objective" indicia. You stated before that the region has a Catholic population of around 30%. Again, my guess is that most of those live in the Baltimore area, and not the DC suburbs. I couldn't find any evidence on this. Let me know if you find data to support or refute this assertion.

Second, I agree that DC was obviously pro union. But don't you think it's kinda difficult to separate DC, even in a historic sense, from MD and VA, where most of the population in the metro area resides? I mean, Maryland didn't have enough votes to secede, but isn't the fact that there was a vote to secede in the first place telling? Did New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania vote on secession? Pennsylvania didn't even have slaves at the outbreak of the Civil War. At least half of Maryland's black population was still in bondage in 1860. Maryland struggled with the issue because many people there during that time had as much to lose from abolition as people in South Carolina. Revisionists make it seem like Maryland was willing and eager to remain a part of the union when the actual history suggests anything but.

I agree that DC doesn't seem so southern today, but I think the area has made a conscious effort to revolutionize its identity, and divorce itself from the south. There was a good program on WETA called "Washington in [fill in the decade]." The show explained how DC was pretty much a sleepy southern town until the expansion of the federal government after WWII.

In this sense, DC is not that different from Atlanta. Atlanta was pretty much the same as Birmingham until William Berry Hartsfield had the vision to make the city a huge air hub. Now the city has an impressive skyline, art galleries, a thriving gay population, and a very well-established Jewish community. Atlanta, due to its history, is still a southern town, but you can't say that it's anything like Memphis, Birmingham, or even Charlotte.

DC has had a similar transformation over the past 30 years.
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Old 02-26-2010, 10:46 AM
 
4,953 posts, read 8,545,662 times
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Banjan,

Your argument would make sense forty years ago. Segregation was everywhere. My mother told me that Brooklyn was fairly segregated (Bensonhurst & BayView) and their was a lot of racism in NYC in the 50's. She also told me that when they rode the train south, they had to move to the back once they crossed from DC into VA. I think that most of us can come to an accord about DC being unique (not overly northern or southern). Personally, I don't see the Atlanta comparision other than affluent African Americans. The white people in the DC region are not like the southern whites surrounding Atlanta. I think the Mason Dixon Line references are outdated. Travel to certain areas and towns in Western PA and come back and explain to me about being northern.
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Old 02-26-2010, 11:12 AM
 
Location: Bronx, NY
4,467 posts, read 8,444,630 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eastli84 View Post
LOL @ that above picture. That's on Rte 13 going from MD into VA way out on the eastern shore. Definitely not from DC crossing into VA.
Well maybe I got it a little confused... but VA is where the south starts
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Old 02-26-2010, 11:21 AM
 
2,531 posts, read 5,466,100 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycricanpapi View Post
DC is a northern city... The South starts in VA. This sign is located when entering VA coming from DC.

That's nowhere near DC. That's over by the DelMarVa Peninsula/Eastern Shore.

Once you get from Northern VA, VA is a lot more overtly southern. Hampton Roads doesn't feel quite as southern as Richmond though.
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Old 02-26-2010, 12:10 PM
 
3,644 posts, read 9,010,378 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Some points taken. I think the topic would make for an interesting essay for a high school student.

But I still take issue with some of your "objective" indicia. You stated before that the region has a Catholic population of around 30%. Again, my guess is that most of those live in the Baltimore area, and not the DC suburbs. I couldn't find any evidence on this. Let me know if you find data to support or refute this assertion.
In 2000, the District of Columbia by itself was 28% Catholic. By far the largest religion amongst the white people. Historically Black denominations weren't included in the data.

You won't find a city in the South with that many Catholics except New Orleans. I think the majority of the white people in DC are Northern, while the black people are more Southern.

Last edited by Smtchll; 02-26-2010 at 12:22 PM..
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Old 02-26-2010, 03:16 PM
 
Location: Germantown, MD
1,359 posts, read 3,278,832 times
Reputation: 569
Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Some points taken. I think the topic would make for an interesting essay for a high school student.

But I still take issue with some of your "objective" indicia. You stated before that the region has a Catholic population of around 30%. Again, my guess is that most of those live in the Baltimore area, and not the DC suburbs. I couldn't find any evidence on this. Let me know if you find data to support or refute this assertion.

Second, I agree that DC was obviously pro union. But don't you think it's kinda difficult to separate DC, even in a historic sense, from MD and VA, where most of the population in the metro area resides? I mean, Maryland didn't have enough votes to secede, but isn't the fact that there was a vote to secede in the first place telling? Did New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania vote on secession? Pennsylvania didn't even have slaves at the outbreak of the Civil War. At least half of Maryland's black population was still in bondage in 1860. Maryland struggled with the issue because many people there during that time had as much to lose from abolition as people in South Carolina. Revisionists make it seem like Maryland was willing and eager to remain a part of the union when the actual history suggests anything but.

I agree that DC doesn't seem so southern today, but I think the area has made a conscious effort to revolutionize its identity, and divorce itself from the south. There was a good program on WETA called "Washington in [fill in the decade]." The show explained how DC was pretty much a sleepy southern town until the expansion of the federal government after WWII.

In this sense, DC is not that different from Atlanta. Atlanta was pretty much the same as Birmingham until William Berry Hartsfield had the vision to make the city a huge air hub. Now the city has an impressive skyline, art galleries, a thriving gay population, and a very well-established Jewish community. Atlanta, due to its history, is still a southern town, but you can't say that it's anything like Memphis, Birmingham, or even Charlotte.

DC has had a similar transformation over the past 30 years.
No I meant the city itself was 30% Catholic. I don't know the stats for the entire Metro Area, although Southern Maryland was originally a haven for Catholics. Prince George's County also has a strong Catholic history. Jews have a strong prescence in Montgomery County, but I think Catholocism is still the largest denom. Many of the best private high schools in both DC and the MD suburbs (and to some extent inner NoVa) are mostly Catholic and arguably one of, if not the, most prestigious HS sports league in the country: the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.

The things you mention about the Civil War fall under the "Southern influences" that I mentioned affecting the history of MD and DC (as well as WV and DE). Yes, half of the blacks in Maryland were slaves, but that means half of them weren't, a far, far cry from any other slave state, except maybe Missouri and Delaware. Virginia had about 10 times the slaves of Maryland, and the number increased all the way up to beginning of the Civil War. Even New Jersey (a state that's obviously not Southern) didn't "free" the slaves in the manner of other states, but turned them into indentured servants for life.

Now Atlanta does share some of the trends that DC has experienced--growing tech economy, increasing incomes etc., but that can be said for a number of cities in different regions of the country. Furthermore, Atlanta (and the other "New South" cities, such as Charlotte) is still decidedly Southern. For instance, Atlanta is currently only 10% Catholic (an percentage that doubled only recently, while DC), and considered to be a stronghold for Protestants. Also, at around 4,000/sq.mi. Atlanta's density is half that of DC's.

Gay pop., isn't really a "Nothern" characteristic (the 5 cities with the largest percentages of lgbt residents--San Fran., Seattle, Atlanta, Minn., Boston--are from 4 different corners of the country), lgbt-friendly legislation is for the most part. DC recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states, and gay marriage will be legalized in the city within the year. Just this week Maryland's AG also stated that the state will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Despite Atlanta's relatively large gay population I think we both know how extremely unlikely a similar move is in Georgia is for the forseeable future.
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Old 02-26-2010, 04:36 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,269,309 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpterp View Post
No I meant the city itself was 30% Catholic. I don't know the stats for the entire Metro Area, although Southern Maryland was originally a haven for Catholics. Prince George's County also has a strong Catholic history. Jews have a strong prescence in Montgomery County, but I think Catholocism is still the largest denom. Many of the best private high schools in both DC and the MD suburbs (and to some extent inner NoVa) are mostly Catholic and arguably one of, if not the, most prestigious HS sports league in the country: the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.

The things you mention about the Civil War fall under the "Southern influences" that I mentioned affecting the history of MD and DC (as well as WV and DE). Yes, half of the blacks in Maryland were slaves, but that means half of them weren't, a far, far cry from any other slave state, except maybe Missouri and Delaware. Virginia had about 10 times the slaves of Maryland, and the number increased all the way up to beginning of the Civil War. Even New Jersey (a state that's obviously not Southern) didn't "free" the slaves in the manner of other states, but turned them into indentured servants for life.

Now Atlanta does share some of the trends that DC has experienced--growing tech economy, increasing incomes etc., but that can be said for a number of cities in different regions of the country. Furthermore, Atlanta (and the other "New South" cities, such as Charlotte) is still decidedly Southern. For instance, Atlanta is currently only 10% Catholic (an percentage that doubled only recently, while DC), and considered to be a stronghold for Protestants. Also, at around 4,000/sq.mi. Atlanta's density is half that of DC's.

Gay pop., isn't really a "Nothern" characteristic (the 5 cities with the largest percentages of lgbt residents--San Fran., Seattle, Atlanta, Minn., Boston--are from 4 different corners of the country), lgbt-friendly legislation is for the most part. DC recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states, and gay marriage will be legalized in the city within the year. Just this week Maryland's AG also stated that the state will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Despite Atlanta's relatively large gay population I think we both know how extremely unlikely a similar move is in Georgia is for the forseeable future.
I didn't bring up Atlanta's gay population to argue that this was a characteristic of a northern city (although it is a reflection of the city's liberalism, which is a characteristic on your list). I raised that fact to show how substantially different it is from other cities in the South such as Birmingham or Nashville. My point was simply that Atlanta had a certain identity during the earlier half of the 20th century and then radically changed that identity during the latter half. Similarly, Washington, which was considered a sleepy, backwater town for much of the twentieth century, was able to change its identity in a matter of decades.

But in the same way a gay population is not a "characterisitic" of a northern city, neither is "high income" or education, wouldn't you agree? Philadelphia certainly does not have many high wage earners and the city is not a particularly educated one. Nobody would ever argue, however, that Philadelphia is not solidly northern. San Francisco arguably has more in common with NYC, DC and Boston than Philly (aside from the weather, large educated class, high cost of living, high incomes, cosmopolitan, diverse, EXTREMELY liberal, public transportation, density, and yes, many Catholics in San Fran). Those things, while highly correlated with cities on the eastern seaboard, do not make a city southern or northern.

The difference between the north and south is not just population density, theatre districts, snow and Thai restaurants; it's a cultural difference. This cultural difference is a product of the different economic systems that existed in the north and south prior to the Civil War and leading up to the early 20th century. Prior to the Civil War, Boston, NYC, and Philly were all commercial centers. Maryland's economy, with the exception of Baltimore (which I've already said I consider to be more northern than DC), was more agrarian-based, a fact made evident by the large number of slaves there. For Christ's sake, Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass grew up on SLAVE PLANTATIONS in Maryland.

On the contrary, the industrial north needed large labor pools for its factories, which it found in the masses of immigrants from places like Ireland, Italy, etc. These immigrants then found themselves competing against newly arrived blacks from the American South, something that never occurred in Washington, DC. For the most part, blacks in DC were a service class for the city's white elites. That's still the case for many black Washingtonians today.

Although Washingtonians many not identify themselves as southerners, Northerners definitely do not accept them as being part of the North. So I guess you can say that the city has its own special region. Growing up, though, we considered DC the South.

Did New Jersey ever have many slaves? And did New Jersey ever consider secession from the Union?
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Old 02-26-2010, 04:43 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,269,309 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DC's Finest View Post
Banjan,

Your argument would make sense forty years ago. Segregation was everywhere. My mother told me that Brooklyn was fairly segregated (Bensonhurst & BayView) and their was a lot of racism in NYC in the 50's. She also told me that when they rode the train south, they had to move to the back once they crossed from DC into VA. I think that most of us can come to an accord about DC being unique (not overly northern or southern). Personally, I don't see the Atlanta comparision other than affluent African Americans. The white people in the DC region are not like the southern whites surrounding Atlanta. I think the Mason Dixon Line references are outdated. Travel to certain areas and towns in Western PA and come back and explain to me about being northern.
NYC is still very segregated. And NYC is still very racist. Being "segregated" and "segregation," however, are two distinct things. The former is often by choice (or limited options). The latter is by rule of law. Washington, DC had the latter.

And no, blacks did not have to change trains once they got to Virginia. They moved to the back once they got to Union Station in WASHINGTON, DC. Read this woman's account of living in Washington during the era of Jim Crow.

The History of Jim Crow

After reading this, can anyone honestly say that Washington, a city where Jim Crow reigned supreme, is a northern city?

And western PA is a totally different animal. That's like saying NYC is not northern because of conservative voters in the upstate.
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Old 02-26-2010, 05:21 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,269,309 times
Reputation: 11726
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smtchll View Post
In 2000, the District of Columbia by itself was 28% Catholic. By far the largest religion amongst the white people. Historically Black denominations weren't included in the data.

You won't find a city in the South with that many Catholics except New Orleans. I think the majority of the white people in DC are Northern, while the black people are more Southern.
I saw that figure on Wikipedia. I think it's highly suspect for three reasons. First, I have a hard time believing there are more self-proclaimed Catholics in DC than Baptists. With a city that's 55% Black, at least half of those people are going to be Baptist. Some will be A.M.E. The others will be something else...maybe atheist? All I know is that DC seems to be infected with Baptist churches.

Second, if the city is roughly 10% Hispanic, that gives you pretty much 33% of the Catholic population there. DC also has more black Catholics than a lot of cities.

Third, the white population in DC is so transient that it doesn't really matter anyway. It's rare that you find a white person in Washington, DC that was born and raised in the city. There aren't any Southies (Boston), Bensonhursts (Brooklyn) or Gray's Ferries (Phila) in DC. These are the Catholics who voted against Barack Obama in the primaries, by the way. In fact, I think Obama may have lost NYC, Boston, and Philly. If he did win Philly, it was only because Philly has a higher percentage of blacks than NYC and Boston. I can almost guarantee you that Obama lost all of the Italian and Irish strongholds in Philadelphia.
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