Date: Fri, 4 Nov 1994 14:32:32 -0600


Subject: Re: new york city and upstate

I'm from New York City. Queens, to be exact. And when we went to

Manhattan in the 1950s we said we were going "to the City." But if someone

asked if I was from the City I would say yes, since Queens is part of the

city. We were well aware of the ambiguity, and often had to explain which

"the City" we meant on that particular occasion. Everything else was

upstate or on the island (Long Island). Or, of course, Jersey. Brooklyn

was somewhat vague. Though it was attached to Queens, it remained a

strange place we went to only to visit those relatives who were too old to

leave. One always feared attacks by overzealous Dodgers fans. Even though

Queens was on the island, we didn't claim it as being "on the island," a

phrase that usu. referred to Nassau and Suffolk counties, which were

outside the city, in all senses.

The people from upstate referred to NYC as the city, so far as I can

recall, though of course being from the city, I spoke to very few people

who were really from upstate. One of my teachers in college grew up

upstate. He remembered being told "the City" was as closed to Hell as one

could get on this earth, and his first visit to the City, when he saw steam

rising from the manhole covers, confirmed the worst he had been told.

Our local subway stop, a 20-minute walk from my house in Forest Hills, was

in the part of our neighborhood we called The Village. You had to go to the

Village to get the subway to go to the city. Once in the city we usually

went to the Village, meaning Greenwich Village, quite a different place

from our own "the Village" in every sense, including the steam coming up

from the manholes.

Those were the days.

Now that I've been in the Midwest for over 25 years, I know that what

Mephistopheles replied when Faustus asked him where hell was (in Marlowe's

play) is true.



Dennis Baron debaron[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

Department of English 217-333-2392

University of Illinois fax: 217-333-4321

608 South Wright Street

Urbana, Illinois 61801