Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The other day, I decided to play God. I invented a whole new region of New York. Here's what I said:
I consider Rockland County and Westchester County to be their own region (not part of Upstate) because of their economic and cultural orientation toward New York City and because I don't want to upset the proprietors of this Facebook group. So, we have "Rockchester" (not to be confused with Rochester).
Since I wanted to be a benevolent God, I did ask for input on this decision. Here's how commenter Walter responded:
I'd simply group Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess, and Orange Counties together as the "Lower Hudson Valley." These areas are all focused on the City more than Upstate, and share commuting patterns toward the city (all are served by Metro-North, for example). Watch for the population in Orange and Rockland to grow even larger later this decade, as trains will be able to run into the City without a transfer in New Jersey and with greater frequency thanks to the new ARC Hudson River tube.
Here's how my numbers would have looked using Walter's Lower Hudson Valley as one of the regions:
As you can see, the Lower Hudson Valley has gone from not existing to being New York's fastest growing region! What's actually most striking to me, though, is what this does to Upstate. New York has three regions that are growing at a reasonable (and similar) clip and one that is shrinking.
Of course, there's no one "right" way to divide a state into regions. Plus, they're always changing based on transportation advancements, economic shifts, etc. In that regard, an anonymous commenter had an interesting take on the future of New York's regions:
I agree with Walter's comments ... the group of counties he highlights are basically NYC suburbs. I'd probably section off the Capital District counties (Albany, Rensselaer, Columbia, Schenectady, and Saratoga) as being somewhat better off, economically, than other Upstate counties -- perhaps due to the presence of state government. So I guess I'd characterize the state as: the City, Lower Hudson Valley, Capital District, and Upstate. FWIW, if high speed rail becomes reality, Columbia County becomes part of the NYC suburbs and the Capital District/Lower Hudson Valley distinction really starts to blur.
GOVERNING Politics is the place for news and analysis on campaigns and elections. If there's a ballot measure in California, a legislative election in Alabama, a mayoral election in Anchorage or a governor's race in Rhode Island, GOVERNING Politics probably is writing about it. We love everything about state and local politics, from polls and campaign ads to policy debates and demographic trends.