Tuesday, October 13, 2009

From here to there.

Or, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and why they're actually pretty different. As the crow flies, we're only moving 75 miles/120km. But the culture's different, and not because of the 'big city' aspect - we're actually moving to the countryside outside Pittsburgh, so in metropolitan terms it's much like where we are now.

For those of you unfamiliar with the NE United States, here's the big picture:

There's Ohio, and Pennsylvania directly to the east. To give an even better picture, here's the to and fro - where we are now is the red circle, and where we're moving to is the green circle:

Sorry for the suckassery of the last image, but, well, me and GIMP, you know how it goes. Anyway.

(For the following, those of you going "duh", please remember I've got a lot of overseas readers and I'm keeping them in mind.)

If you go back to the 'big picture' map, take a look at all the states along the E coast. New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia (West Virginia was part of Virginia at the time) were all COLONIES. As in, they were founded at the very start of the history of Europeans in North America. PA (as we're gonna call Pennsylvania from now on - it is a local term taken from the postal code for the state and used in regular speech) was originally mapped by the Spanish (this matters later, really), settled by the Dutch, Swedes, and English, fought over with the French, and eventually deeded to the English. In 1681, Charles II of England formally granted the land of Pennsylvania to William Penn, who established a colony there. (The land was actually named after William Penn's father; the king did it on purpose that way, to embarrass Penn Jr, according to several accounts.) Penn was a forward-thinking kind of guy and put religious freedom in the charter of the colony. And that's how PA wound up with hordes of Amish, Mennonite, Shakers, Quakers, and, rumor has it, the last of the European witches who'd survived the witch hunts in Europe. (Can't substantiate that last bit, but I've seen it and heard it in a lot of places.)

After that, PA's history goes pretty predictably. They were a buncha revolutionaries (that Penn fellow, drawing all the liberals in like a freedom-for-all black hole) and leapt cheerfully into the American Revolution. Philadelphia was where they signed the Declaration of Independence, and became the nation's first capital.

The area around Pittsburgh was first described in 1717, and French fur trappers were in the area earlier than that. The rivers in the area were used for freight, and so Pittsburgh was a big trade and industrial city, very early on, because it was easy to get to. It was also a gateway to the entire Ohio river valley and from there the Mississippi river. It was the 1700s equivalent of being right on the interstate.

So, okay, PA was settled early and a colony and all that rot.

Ohio's another story. Here, look at this map of when the land was surveyed.

You can see the years that different areas were surveyed. Usually the surveys were done at whatever time they were encouraging settlers to move into an area, so it's a halfway decent rule of thumb. Of course there were people (particularly Native Americans, but that's another post) before the land was surveyed, but the surveying went hand in hand with official settlement, the foundation of cities and towns, and all that. The nearest towns to where I am were founded in 1827, 1838, and 1805. Which goes along with the area of NE Ohio being surveyed and laid out in 1797.

Ohio's kinda weird, because there's this horizontal line across the middle of the state around Columbus; those south of the line likely emigrated in from Virginia, and have one culture. Those north of the line (where I grew up) emigrated in from New York (along the shore of Lake Erie) and have another culture. Basically it's Yankees in the north and Southerners in the south. Two hundred years later, there's a good bit of cultural mixing, but the different foundations are still noticeable, if you know where to look. (Very cool book on the subject, "A Geography of Ohio" is in Google Books for free. It claims to be a preview, but much of the book is available.)

And then. Not only are the histories and geography of Ohio and Pennsylvania vastly different, but the physical layout of the states are different. Thanks to the formal surveying, the layout of Ohio looks mostly like this:

While Pennsylvania, much older, had settlers randomly moving in and around, and much of the state looks like this:

(Yes, I got the PA image from a part of NW Pennsylvania that's about as flat as the area of Ohio I got the Ohio image from.)

So, while I don't expect culture shock to the degree I had it in South Carolina, well, it's going to be interesting.


Emily said...

I've grown up in the northeast: Boston, school in NY, & live in NY still...once went to Cinncinnati for an audition & was immediately surprised to find myself in the South! Somehow I hadn't considered Ohio to be Southern.

My mother is from Mississippi, so I'm at least aware of Southern culture...I'm finding your acounts fascinating.

amy said...

This is going to sound silly, considering, but keep in mind I live in the smallest state. I always forget how BIG Pennsylvania is. It goes all the way to Ohio! Crazy. I've about got it now, that Pittsburgh is close, geographically, to Ohio, but that's mostly thanks to various NFL and college football rivalries. :)

Oh, and we got our own forward-minded freedom thinker founder. Ours got kicked out of Massachusetts Bay. Go, us!!

BreannaS said...

I love your informative posts. Would you be interested in doing a post about jehovas witness?

Deana said...

Hey honey, I'm more than willing to donate my time (and Ben's! haha!) to helping you move in and get settled, if needed! And of course, I'm always happy to show you around and the likes.

We gotta hit my favorite bookstores and coffeehouses (all located in my neighborhood...go figure) and the used book stores, vintage toy stores, Salvation Armies.... and show you where all the major malls/craft stores are!

Hope to see you soon! Eeee!! I'm excited :D :D

Last but certainly not least, I'll show you the Hometown Sports stores where you must purchase SOMETHING Steelers to display in your home/window/front lawn, so that the locals won't attack you with pitchforks. They also have Goob-sized clothes *cough,cough*

Ellen said...

I love the bit where part of Ohio is actually part of "Connecticut's Western Reserve." Just in case all those extra Connecticutans need someplace to move to . . .

Amy Lane said...

Either way I'd love to live in a place that believes history started sometime BEFORE the 1960's... what's that like?

Robin said...

Very interesting. Hope you get your apartment locked in soon and glad you won't be too far away from Ohio!