The U.S. Northeast 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 metro area in the United States.
As defined by the Census Bureau, the Northeast region of the United States covers 9 states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Some unofficial classifications of the region add Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia to the region.
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 England—including Harvard, Yale, MIT, Brown, Dartmouth, Wellesley, Smith, Williams, Amherst, and Wesleyan—is 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.
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.
New England is also important for the cultural contribution it has made to the nation. As the oldest of the American regions, this area developed its own distinctive cuisine, dialect, architecture and government. New England cuisine is known for its emphasis on seafood and dairy, and clam chowder, lobster, fish and chips (battered codfish), boiled dinner, and ice cream are among some of the region's most popular foods.
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.
Some Famous Northeasterners