Someone on Instagram was perplexed by my description of two of my school friends growing up. Frankly I think they couldn’t believe the American Midwest had any sophistication or actual wealth. They are from Europe and are probably in the middle/upper middle class? (I don’t suspect they read anything I post now so I feel safe with such an “insult” <roll eyes> as to suggest they aren’t an actual queen in a castle)
Anyway, apparently they seem to think there are two coasts with wealth in the US and everything in between is filled with so-called Trump supporters, dirty, run down farms and poor hicks. And cows. Lots of cows… Maybe some trees?
I pointed out to them that Chicago is in the Midwest but they either didn’t seem to catch my point or they thought I was lying, because I seriously suspect they thought Chicago was somewhat close to New York City. They claimed to have spent many vacations in both cities and again…I think they thought Chicago was somewhere on the East Coast.
Well…actually the Midwest is complicated. Parts of it are farmland (although there are many wealthy Midwestern farmers although they’d never call themselves that out of sincere humility). Parts of the Great Lakes Region (where I live) are covered in heavy native forests and thousands and thousands of big and small lakes.
Anyway, the Twin Cities have been populated by non natives since the 1600’s. This area (I’ll only speak much to where I’m from) was first settled by French fur traders who arrived in the 1600’s and other people groups followed after that.
We’ve had “society” here since probably the late 1700’s or mid 1800’s. The late 1800’s and early 1900’s saw a boom in that group of individuals as wealthy barons built their mansions here and raised their kids here at least until they were sent to finishing school or a more prestigious prep school back east. But there are now rather prestigious private schools in the area… Anyway, wealth and so-called “sophistication” have been here ever since…
The family of the young lady with the large house in my last post lived here because they wanted to raise their kids away from the bigger cities on the coasts. They felt it was a cozy, family-friendly area to live while raising a family. …But the Twin Cities (and surrounding suburbs which are included because it really all goes together) does have a population of 3.28 million. And this area is sometimes considered one of the top 25 (there are many cities here – about 20,000) most expensive places in the US to live in. And we’re about 7 hours by car or an hour or so by plane from Chicago… In the US 7 hours is not as big of a deal either, FYI.
Anyway, there are many lovely places to live in the US. Some more expensive than others. But wealth and “sophistication” are actually sprinkled all over the country… And not everyone who lives in a “big city” is actually all that sophisticated. Although many of them tend to believe that of themselves if asked in reference and comparison to people from other parts of the country. But Americans are innately competitive and there is some truth to the idea that very large cities have a higher likelihood of producing “sophistication” based on the resources and opportunities available.
And this is not just me speaking as a Midwestern. No… I lived in Pennsylvania near Harrisburg for four years in college and somewhat frequently used to travel to Philadelphia, D.C. and occasionally New York City. I had friends from those areas or surrounding suburbs. I still do.
Sometimes I went to the south too (Georgia, Virginia, Florida) because I had friends from the Deep South (one from Georgia in particular) and I had one friend from northern Virginia (not the Deep South but still the south)… I used to even talk about the cultural differences (and other differences) between the Midwest and the East Coast with those folks. And of course some of them were rather ignorant about anything beyond their microcosm of the US and probably might almost echo the Instagram follower, but not all.
I also lived in Seattle proper for two years… And my husband and his family are from Connecticut, Ohio, Maryland and Massachusetts.
Anyway. The point is…different kinds of people come from all over and most people who are genuinely aware of the country’s regions would agree. And while there are some generalizations to be made, it’s not wise to make those assumptions unless you have objective non-emotionally driven evidence to suggest those generalizations are correct (not because you’re feeling insecure or threatened). And sometimes popular generalizations are not accurate, but are based on misunderstandings, jealousy, ignorant pride, plain ignorance or lack of exposure/experience.
My suburb/neighborhood was populated by truly wealthy folks, upper middle class folks…and a few sprinklings of middle middle class people. I had friends from all of those groups.
One of them had spent months of their childhood on a yacht sailing the ocean (truly) and their family paid for Ivy League educations. Others had political connections to Washington D.C. because of old family ties. There were lots of surgeon’s kids. Lawyer’s kids. Doctor’s kids… etc. Others…had parents who were teachers or fathers or mothers who had sustainable but not particularly lucrative small businesses. I could go on with more examples… But my friend with the large house was not unusual…
But anyway, that’s where I grew up. I can’t do much about it in any direction and it obviously did affect me. Everyone’s childhood and adolescence affects them.
But no. Chicago is not on the East Coast.