Northeastern United States

Coordinates: 42°N 73°W / 42°N 73°W / 42; -73
Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Northeastern United States
American Northeast, the Northeast
A map of the Northeastern United States as defined by the Census Bureau[1]
CountryUnited States
 • Region181,324 sq mi (469,630 km2)
 • Land162,257 sq mi (420,240 km2)
 • Water19,067 sq mi (49,380 km2)  9.51%
 • Urban74,800 sq mi (194,000 km2)
Highest elevation
(Mount Washington, New Hampshire[3][4][a])
6,288 ft (1,916.66 m)
Lowest elevation
(Atlantic Ocean[4])
0 ft (0 m)
 • Region57,609,148
 • Density320/sq mi (120/km2)
Demonym(s)Northeasterner, Yankee
GDP (nominal)
 • Total$5.104 trillion (2022)
 • per capita$88,597 (2022)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)

The Northeastern United States, also referred to as the Northeast, the East Coast,[b] or the American Northeast, is a geographic region of the United States located on the Atlantic coast of North America. It borders Canada to its north, the Southern United States to its south, the Midwestern United States to its west, and the Atlantic Ocean to its east.

The Northeast is one of the four regions defined by the U.S. Census Bureau for the collection and analysis of statistics.[1] The Census Bureau defines the region as including the six New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, and three northern Mid-Atlantic states of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Some expanded definitions of the region include Delaware, Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C.[10][11][12][13][14]

The region is home to the Northeast megalopolis, which includes many of the nation's largest metropolitan areas, including Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia. The megalopolis makes up 67% of the region's total population of 57,609,148. The gross domestic product of the region was $5.1 trillion as of 2022 and contains some of the most developed states based on the Human Development Index, with every state with the exception of Maine above the national average.[15][16] It is also the most densely populated region in the United States, with 320 people per square mile (120 people/km2).[17][10] The U.S. Census Bureau defines the Northeast United States as having a total area of 181,324 sq mi (469,630 km2), making it the smallest region of the United States by total area.


Indigenous people

Anthropologists recognize the "Northeastern Woodlands" as one of the cultural regions that existed in the Western Hemisphere at the time of European colonists in the 15th and later centuries. Most did not settle in North America until the 17th century. The cultural area, known as the "Northeastern Woodlands", in addition to covering the entire Northeast U.S., also covered much of what is now Canada and others regions of what is now the eastern United States.[18]

Among the many tribes inhabiting this area were those that made up the Iroquois nations and the numerous Algonquian peoples.[19] In the United States of the 21st century, 18 federally recognized tribes reside in the Northeast.[20] For the most part, the people of the Northeastern Woodlands, on whose lands European fishermen began camping to dry their codfish in the early 1600s, lived in villages, especially after being influenced by agricultural traditions of the Ohio and Mississippi valley societies.[21]

Colonial history

Embarkation of the Pilgrims, an 1857 portrait by Robert Walter Weir
Penn's Treaty with the Indians, a 1772 portrait by Benjamin West

All of the U.S. states making up the Northeastern region were among the original Thirteen Colonies, though Maine and Vermont were part of other colonies before the United States became independent in the American Revolution. The two cultural and geographic regions that form parts of the Northeastern region have distinct histories. The first European explorer known to have explored the Atlantic shoreline of the Northeast since the Norse was Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524. His ship La Dauphine explored the coast from what is now known as Florida to New Brunswick.

The first Europeans to settle and colonize New England were Pilgrims from England, who landed in present-day Massachusetts in 1620.[22] The Pilgrims arrived on the ship Mayflower and founded Plymouth Colony so they could practice religion freely.[22] Ten years later, a larger group of Puritans settled north of Plymouth Colony in Boston to form Massachusetts Bay Colony.[23] In 1636, colonists established Connecticut Colony and Providence Plantations.[24][25]

Providence was founded by Roger Williams, who was banished by Massachusetts for his beliefs in freedom of religion, and it was the first colony to guarantee all citizens freedom of worship.[25] Anne Hutchinson, who was also banished by Massachusetts, formed the town of Portsmouth.[25] Providence, Portsmouth and two other towns (Newport and Warwick) consolidated to form the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.[25]

Henry Hudson explored the area of present-day New York in 1609 and claimed it for the Netherlands. His journey stimulated Dutch interest, and the area became known as New Netherland. In 1625, the city of New Amsterdam (the location of present-day New York City) was designated the capital of the province.[26] The Dutch New Netherland settlement along the Hudson River and, for a time, the New Sweden settlement along the Delaware River divided the English settlements in the north and the south. In 1664, Charles II of England formally annexed New Netherland and incorporated it into the English colonial empire.[27] The territory became the colonies of New York and New Jersey.[27] New Jersey was originally split into East Jersey and West Jersey until the two were united as a royal colony in 1702.[27]

New England played a prominent role in early American education. Starting in the 17th century, the larger towns in New England opened grammar schools, the forerunner of the modern high school.[citation needed] The first public school in the English colonies was the Boston Latin School, founded in 1635.[28] In 1636, the colonial legislature of Massachusetts founded Harvard College, the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.[29]

In 1681, William Penn, who wanted to give Quakers a land of religious freedom, founded Pennsylvania and extended freedom of religion to all citizens.[30]

Penn strongly desired access to the sea for the Province of Pennsylvania and leased what then came to be known as the "Lower Counties on the Delaware" from the Duke.[31] Penn established representative government and briefly combined his two possessions under one General Assembly in 1682.

By 1704, the Province of Pennsylvania had grown so large that their representatives wanted to make decisions without the assent of the Lower Counties and the two groups of representatives began meeting on their own, one at Philadelphia, and the other at New Castle, Delaware. Penn and his heirs remained proprietors of both and always appointed the same person Governor for their Province of Pennsylvania and their territory of the Lower Counties. The fact that Delaware and Pennsylvania shared the same governor was not unique. From 1703 to 1738, both New York and New Jersey shared a governor.[32] Massachusetts and New Hampshire also shared a governor for some time.[33]

American Revolution

The Battle of Trenton, fought in New Jersey in December 1776 following Washington's covert crossing of the Delaware during the night of December 25, 1776, represented an inspiring victory for Washington's Continental Army and began to turn the Revolutionary War in the Americans' favor.

The beginnings of the American Revolutionary War would be in the Northeast, specifically in Massachusetts. The Battles of Lexington and Concord in northeast of Boston would be the first military engagements between the Revolutionaries and the British.[34] Many of the major battles of the revolution would be fought in the Northeast. The British would evacuate Boston in early-1776 and would move to capture New York City.[35]

The revolutionaries were pushed to the Delaware River before suddenly moving forward against the British in the Battles of Trenton and Princeton.[35] A stalemate was reached in 1778, between the British and American Revolutionaries and continued until the end of the war in 1783.[36] The war would move to southern states and eventually conclude with the Battle of Yorktown in Virginia.[35]

Formation of the United States of America

The idea of an independent United States of America, with the designs of its government would be created primarily in the Northeast in a series of declarations, constitutions, and documents. The Continental Congresses would meet in Philadelphia, which would produce the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. Following the American Revolution, the capital of the newly formed United States would move around in the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. It was based in New York City from 1785 until 1790, when it was moved to Congress Hall in Philadelphia, where it remained for a decade, until 1800, when the construction of the new national capital of Washington, D.C. was completed.[37]

The Constitutional Convention was held in Philadelphia, where the new United States Constitution was drafted in 1787.[38] 6 of the first 13 states to ratify the new constitution would be in the Northeast, with the last of the original 13, Rhode Island, ratifying the constitution in 1790. Vermont would be admitted in 1791 as the 14th state. The first Congress would convene in Federal Hall in New York City in March 1789.[39]

Early and mid-19th century

The Battle of Gettysburg, fought in and around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was the American Civil War's bloodiest battle; the Union's victory at Gettysburg represented a turning point in the war in the Union's favor.

Following the revolution the Northeast would see small skirmishes like the Whiskey Rebellion in western parts of Pennsylvania.[40] Many northeastern states would continue trading with the British and other European powers. Tensions between the United States and Europe (specifically Britain) would sour in the lead up to the War of 1812.

This caused certain trade merchants to meet in Hartford to propose succeeding from the United States.[41] The War of 1812 would see less fighting in the Northeast and instead more fighting in western and southern areas. A failed invasion of Canada and the occupation of Maine would be some of the major conflicts during the war.[42] The war would end in 1815 and most of the Northeast has not seen any major conflict since then.

The American Industrial Revolution was launched in Blackstone Valley in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, where textile mills spread across New England, and in eastern Pennsylvania, where coal, steel, and industrialization launched the nation's manufacturing sector.[43]

After the end of the War of 1812, industry boomed in the Northeast in the early and middle parts of the 19th century. With the construction of railroad and canals crossing the northeast and the rise of western territories and resources from the south, the Northeast experienced the development of new industries and a fast-growing population. Many of the coastal cities, including Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia, served as ocean trade ports for American goods.

Cities, including Allentown, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Rochester, and Syracuse, were settled and emerged as major industrial centers.[44]

By 1860, New York City, based on its present-day boundaries, was the first U.S. city to reach a population exceeding one million.[45] Due to the settlement of the Midwest and Great Plains, agriculture would collapse in the Mid-Atlantic and New England, with many farms being abandoned by the end of the century, returning to rural forest.

Conflicts with the south over the spread of slavery would become a large factor in the start of the American Civil War, between the United States (western and Northeastern states) and the Confederacy (southeastern states). The admission of Maine as a free state in exchange for Missouri becoming a slave state as part of the Missouri Compromise in 1820 would settle the final boundaries of the Northeastern states.[46]

The Mason-Dixon line would be established as the border of slavery, following the border of Pennsylvania and Delaware/Maryland.[47] Abolitionist movements would start in the Northeast and Midwest and would become prominent towards the mid-19th century, these groups advocated the shrinking or banning of slavery in the United States. Some Northeastern states still had small amounts of slaves into the 1850s, though some would ban it during the decade.

The election of 1860 led to the start of the Civil War; southern states succeeded from the United States in late-1860 and early-1861. States like Maryland and Delaware would remain in the union, even with slavery still legal. For the first two years, the eastern theater of the war would remain in Virginia and Maryland, but in 1863 the war would reach its northeastern most extent in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Battle of Gettysburg is considered a turning point in the Civil War, seeing the end of the Confederate push northwards.[48]

While all Northeastern states would remain in the United States during the war, conflicts did arise, like the New York draft riots in 1863.[49] The war would end in 1865 with the United States taking back control of Southern states.

Industrial Revolution and modern times

Little Italy in Lower Manhattan, c. 1900
Northeastern United States in 1908 from The Harmsworth atlas and Gazetter

Following the Civil War, the Northeast would see a large economic boom and would become one of the most industrialized regions in the world. Many technological innovation would be made in the Northeast during this time. The Second Industrial Revolution would see the northeast grow massively, even more so than before the Civil War. Many cities in the Northeast would explode in population, with cities like Philadelphia and New York climbing over one million people, while other cities like Buffalo, Boston, and Pittsburgh would rise above half a million during this time.

New York City eventually grew to become one of the largest cities in the world by 1900. With the American involvement in both World Wars, the Northeast would become a large base of war production, with the Brooklyn Naval Yard producing many navy ships.[50] Many worker strikes would occur in the states, including the Homestead strike in 1892.[51] Many of these cities would see a peak population and industrial output in the aftermath of World War II in the 1950s.[52]

Starting in the 1950s and continuing into the 21st century, a large industrial decline in the Northeast resulted in a depopulation of many Northeastern cities, many of which had not yet recovered from it into the 21st century. This led to the rise of programs of urban renewal and demolition of large parts of Northeastern cities during the mid and late 20th century.[53] There has also been a large population shift to the Sun Belt states starting in the 1960s.[54]

New York state lost its claim to being the most populated state after it was surpassed by California in the 1970s. Some Northeastern cities, including New York City, have recovered from its decline in the mid-20th century.[45] Many new information and service industries have risen in the northeast, which has led to a boom in the 21st century in some cities in the Northeast like Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Some other cities like Hartford, Syracuse, and Buffalo still are declining though in the 21st century.[55] Hurricane Sandy would impact much of the northeast in 2012, severely damaging much of the coast and causing flooding inland. The hurricane would directly impact New Jersey and caused large amounts of flooding in New York City.[56]

Although the first settlers of New England were motivated by religion, since the 21st century, New England had become one of the least religious parts of the United States. In a 2009 Gallup survey, less than half of residents in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont reported religion as an important part of their daily life.[57] In a 2010 Gallup survey, less than 30% of residents in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts reported attending church weekly, giving them the lowest church attendance among U.S. states.[58]


Cape Cod Bay, a leading tourist destination in Massachusetts
The Palisades along the Hudson River in New Jersey
Montauk Point Lighthouse on the east end of Long Island

The vast area from central Virginia to northern Maine, and from western Pennsylvania, from Pittsburgh in the west to the Atlantic Ocean in the east, have all been loosely grouped into the Northeast. The U.S. Census Bureau's definition of the Northeast includes nine states: Maine, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania.[1][c]

The region is often subdivided into New England, the six states east of New York state and the Mid-Atlantic states of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. This definition has been essentially unchanged since 1880 and is widely used as a standard for data tabulation.[60][61][62][63]

The U.S. Census Bureau has acknowledged the obvious limitations of this definition and the potential merits of a proposal created after the 1950 census,[64] that would include changing regional boundaries to include Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. with the Mid-Atlantic states, but ultimately decided that "the new system did not win enough overall acceptance among data users to warrant adoption as an official new set of general-purpose State groupings. The previous development of many series of statistics, arranged and issued over long periods of time on the basis of the existing State groupings, favored the retention of the summary units of the current regions and divisions."[65] The U.S. Census Bureau confirmed in 1994 that it would continue to "review the components of the regions and divisions to ensure that they continue to represent the most useful combinations of states and state equivalents."[65]

Many organizations and reference works follow the Census Bureau's definition for the region.[66][67][68] In the history of the United States, the Mason–Dixon line between Pennsylvania (the North) and Maryland (the South) traditionally divided the regions,[69] but in modern times, various entities define the Northeastern United States in somewhat different ways.

The Association of American Geographers divides the Northeast into two divisions: "New England", which is the same as the Census Bureau; and it has the same "Middle States" but adds Delaware.[70] Similarly, the Geological Society of America defines the Northeast as these same states but with the addition of Maryland and the District of Columbia.[71]

The narrowest definitions include only the states of New England.[72] Other more restrictive definitions include New England and New York as part of the Northeast United States, but exclude Pennsylvania and New Jersey.[73][74]

States beyond the Census Bureau definition are included in Northeast Region by various other entities:


While most of the Northeastern United States lie in the physiographic region of the Appalachian Highlands, some are also part of the Atlantic coastal plain, which extends south to the southern tip of Florida. The coastal plain areas include Cape Cod in Massachusetts, Long Island in New York, and most of New Jersey, and are generally low and flat with sandy soil and marshy land.[10] The highlands, including the Piedmont and the Appalachian Mountains, are heavily forested, ranging from rolling hills to summits greater than 6,000 feet (1,800 m), and pocked with many lakes.[10] The highest peak in the Northeast is Mount Washington in New Hampshire at 6,288 feet (1,917 m).[81]

Land use

As of 2012, forest-use covered approximately 60% of the Northeastern states, including Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., about twice the national average. About 11% was cropland and another 4% grassland pasture or range. There is also more urbanized land in the Northeast (12%) than any other region in the U.S.[14]

Many parks on a state and national level cover the inland parts of the region. Large parks include the Adirondack Park in northeastern New York, Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont, White Mountain Forest in northern New Hampshire, Baxter State Park in northern Maine, Acadia National Park on the eastern coast of Maine, Allegheny National Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania, and Catskill Park in southern New York. There are also some parks closer to the shore, though these are usually smaller and squeezed in-between urbanized areas. These include the Palisades Park in New Jersey, Fire Island in Long Island, and the Cape Cod shoreline in Massachusetts. The Northeast has 72 National Wildlife Refuges, encompassing more than 500,000 acres (780 sq mi; 2,000 km2) of habitat and designed to protect some of the 92 different threatened and endangered species living in the region.[20]


The climate of the Northeastern United States varies from northernmost state of Maine to its southernmost state in Maryland. The region's climate is influenced by its positional western to eastern flow of weather in the middle latitudes in the United States. Summers are normally warm in northern areas to hot in southern areas. In summer, the building Bermuda High pumps warm and sultry air toward the Northeast, and frequent (but brief) thundershowers are common on hot summer days.

In winter, the subtropical high retreats southeastward, and the polar jet stream moves south bringing colder air masses from up in Canada and more frequent storm systems to the region. Winter often brings both rain and snow as well as surges of both warm and cold air. In the southern part of the Northeast from coastal Rhode Island southwest to eastern Maryland, the Appalachians partially protect these locations from the extreme cold coming from the west and the interior of North America.[82]

The basic climate of the Northeast can be divided into a colder and snowier interior, including western Maryland, most of Pennsylvania, most of North Jersey, Upstate New York, and most of New England, and a milder coastal plain region from Cape Cod and southern Rhode Island southward, including Long Island, Southern Connecticut, New York City, central and southern New Jersey, part of the Pennsylvania portion of the Delaware Valley including Philadelphia, Delaware, and most of Maryland. In the latter region the hardiness zone ranges from 7a to 8a. Annual mean temperatures range from the low-to-mid 50s F from Maryland to southern Connecticut, to the 40s F in most of New York State, New England, and northern Pennsylvania.[82][83][84]

Most of the Northeast has a humid continental climate (Dfa/Dfb/Dc). The northernmost portion of the humid subtropical zone (Cfa/Do) begins at Martha's Vineyard and extreme SW Rhode Island and extends southwestward down the coastal plain to central and southern Maryland. The oceanic climate zone (Cfb/Do) only exists on Block Island and Nantucket and is the only area of the Northeast where all months average between 0 and 22 °C (32 and 71.6 °F). Cape Cod borders this zone and warm-summer humid continental (Dfb/Dc).


Historical population
2022 (est.)57,040,406[85]−1.0%
Ethnic origins in the Northeast

As of the 2020 U.S. census, the population of the region was 57,609,148, representing 17.38% of the nation's total population.[5] With an average of 345.5 people per square mile, the Northeast is 2.5 times as densely populated as the second-most dense region, the South. Since the last century, the U.S. population has been shifting away from the Northeast and Midwest toward the South and West.[87]

The region's racial composition as of 2020 was 64.42% white, 11.51% African American, 0.51% Native American, 7.25% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 8.17% from other races, and 8.10% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.27% of the population.[88] There were 22,418,883 households and 14,189,719 families in 2021. Of the 22,418,883 households, 27.7% included children under the age of 18.[89]

In 2021, the region's the population's age distribution was 20.5% under age 18, 57.36% from 18 to 62, and 22.1% who were 62 years of age or older. The median age was 40.5 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.4 males. For every 100 women ages 18 and over, there were 94.3 men.[90]

The median income for a household in the region in 2021 was $77,142, and the median income for a family was $97,347. About 11.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.0% of those under age 18 and 10.4% of those age 65 or over.[91]

The two U.S. Census Bureau divisions in the Northeast, New England and the Mid-Atlantic, rank second and first respectively among the 9 divisions in population density according to the 2013 population estimate. The South Atlantic region (233.1) was very close behind New England (233.2). Due to the faster growth of the South Atlantic region, it will take over the #2 division rank in population density in the next estimate, dropping New England to 3rd position. New England is projected to retain the number 3 rank for many, many years, as the only other lower-ranked division with even half the population density of New England is the East North Central division (192.1) and this region's population is projected to grow slowly. [d][92]

State 2020 census 2010 census Change Total Area Density
Connecticut 3,605,944 3,574,097 +0.89% 4,842.35 sq mi (12,541.6 km2) 741/sq mi (286/km2)
Maine 1,362,359 1,328,361 +2.56% 30,842.90 sq mi (79,882.7 km2) 43/sq mi (17/km2)
Massachusetts 7,029,917 6,547,629 +7.37% 7,800.05 sq mi (20,202.0 km2) 879/sq mi (340/km2)
New Hampshire 1,377,529 1,316,470 +4.64% 8,952.64 sq mi (23,187.2 km2) 150/sq mi (58/km2)
Rhode Island 1,097,379 1,052,567 +4.26% 1,033.81 sq mi (2,677.6 km2) 1,025/sq mi (396/km2)
Vermont 643,077 625,741 +2.77% 9,216.65 sq mi (23,871.0 km2) 68/sq mi (26/km2)
New England 15,116,205 14,444,865 +4.65% 62,688.4 sq mi (162,362 km2) 236/sq mi (91/km2)
New Jersey 9,288,994 8,791,894 +5.65% 7,354.21 sq mi (19,047.3 km2) 1,225/sq mi (473/km2)
New York 20,201,249 19,378,102 +4.25% 47,126.36 sq mi (122,056.7 km2) 421/sq mi (163/km2)
Pennsylvania 13,002,700 12,702,379 +2.36% 44,742.67 sq mi (115,883.0 km2) 286/sq mi (111/km2)
Middle Atlantic 42,492,943 40,872,375 +3.96% 99,223.24 sq mi (256,987.0 km2) 420/sq mi (162/km2)
Total 57,609,148 55,317,240 +4.14% 161,911.64 sq mi (419,349.2 km2) 354/sq mi (137/km2)
  • Largest cities in the Northeast
  • Downtown NYC
    New York City, New York is the most populated city in both the Northeast and the United States. Its population was 8,804,190 in 2020. Its metro area has a population of 20,140,470.[93]
  • Downtown Philadelphia
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is the second-most populated in the Northeast and sixth-largest in the nation. Its population was 1,603,797 in 2020. Its metro area population was 6,228,601.
  • Back Bay, Boston
    Boston, Massachusetts is the third-largest city in the Northeast and 24th-largest in the nation. Its population was 675,647 in 2020. Its metro area had a population of 4,941,632.
  • Newark, New Jersey is the fourth-largest city in the Northeast and 66th-largest in the U.S. Its population was 311,549 in 2020. Its metro area is combined with the New York area.
    Newark, New Jersey is the fourth-largest city in the Northeast and 66th-largest in the U.S. Its population was 311,549 in 2020. Its metro area is combined with the New York area.
  • downtown Pittsburgh
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the fifth-largest city in the Northeast and 68th-largest in the nation. Pittsburgh is at the western frontier of the Northeast, a short drive from the Ohio border, and is widely regarded as the transition point between the Northeast and Midwest. Its population was 302,971 in 2020. Its metro area has a population of 2,370,930.
  • Newport area of Jersey City
    Jersey City, New Jersey is the sixth-largest city in the Northeast and 75th-largest in the nation. It had a population of 292,449 in 2020. It sits directly across the Hudson River from New York City.
  • Downtown Buffalo
    Buffalo, New York is the seventh-largest city in the Northeast and 78th-largest in the U.S. Its population was 278,349 in 2020. Its metro area had a population of 1,166,902.
  • Yonkers, New York is the eighth-largest city in the Northeast and 111th-largest city in the U.S. It had a population of 211,569 in 2020. It borders the Bronx, a borough of New York City to its south.
    Yonkers, New York is the eighth-largest city in the Northeast and 111th-largest city in the U.S. It had a population of 211,569 in 2020. It borders the Bronx, a borough of New York City to its south.
  • Rochester, New York is the ninth-largest city in the Northeast and the 112th-largest city in the United States. It had a population of 211,328 in 2020. The Rochester metro has a population of 1,090,135.
    Rochester, New York is the ninth-largest city in the Northeast and the 112th-largest city in the United States. It had a population of 211,328 in 2020. The Rochester metro has a population of 1,090,135.
  • Worcester, Massachusetts is the tenth-largest city in the Northeast and the 114th-largest city in the United States. It had a population of 206,518 in the 2020 census. It is an edge city of Greater Boston and its metro is combined with it.
    Worcester, Massachusetts is the tenth-largest city in the Northeast and the 114th-largest city in the United States. It had a population of 206,518 in the 2020 census. It is an edge city of Greater Boston and its metro is combined with it.


As of 2012, the Northeast U.S. accounts for approximately 23% of the nation's gross domestic product.[15] Due to its vast population and diverse landscapes, the Northeast has a large and robust economy, ranging from financial services in Manhattan, to agriculture in Central Pennsylvania.

New York City

The New York Stock Exchange in Lower Manhattan is the largest stock exchange in the world by market capitalization.

As of 2021, the New York metropolitan area is estimated to produce a gross metropolitan product (GMP) of $2.1 trillion US dollars, ranking it first in the U.S. If the New York metropolitan area were a sovereign state, it would have the eighth-largest economy in the world. Manhattan is considered the world's financial center, with many large banks based in Manhattan and some of the largest stock exchanges on Wall Street, like the New York Stock Exchange, it is so prominent that the term "Wall Street" is usually synonymous with finance. Many other companies are based in New York City area, either in Midtown Manhattan, downtown Brooklyn, Long Island City, or the various suburbs, like Stamford or White Plains. Some of the largest companies based in New York City area include, Verizon, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, MetLife, PepsiCo, IBM, Time Warner, Goldman Sachs, and Pfizer. Several technology companies have been founded in New York, or moved their headquarters to New York from other places.

New York City is the nation's most populated city, and the New York metropolitan area including and surrounding it is the nation's most populated metropolitan region, contributing to a sizable shopping economy, including many large shopping malls and department stores based in the area, such as Macy's on 34th Street, Fifth Avenue, and American Dream in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the Palisades Center in West Nyack, New York, and the SoNo Collection in Norwalk, Connecticut. The Port of New York and New Jersey, one of the nation's largest ports, is located on New York Harbor.


Adirondack Park

As of 2021, the Philadelphia metropolitan area is estimated to produce a GMP of $479 billion US dollars, making it the 9th largest economy in the United States. Many large companies are based in Philadelphia, the nation's sixth-largest city, including AmerisourceBergen, Comcast, and DuPont. The Philadelphia Mint is also located in the city.


The Boston metropolitan area is a major center for insurance, finance, and technology, serving as the global headquarters for General Electric, Liberty Mutual, and other large companies.

Other regions

Rural regions and states, including most of Upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, rely more on agriculture, logging, mining, and tourism to help boost their local and statewide economies. Many national and state parks in the region generate lots of tourism, especially during fall months. The logging industry is especially prominent in Maine, making up a large part of Northern Maine's economy.

Many Northeastern states have very large economies and are highly developed. As of 2022, the per capita gross domestic products for these states are:

  1. New York, US$2.1 trillion, per capita $105,226
  2. Pennsylvania, US$931 billion, per capita $71,825
  3. New Jersey, US$753 billion, per capita $81,307
  4. Massachusetts, US$693 billion, per capita $99,274
  5. Connecticut, US$323 billion, per capita $89,301
  6. New Hampshire, US$106 billion, per capita $76,008
  7. Maine, US$85 billion, per capita $61,491
  8. Rhode Island, US$72 billion per capita $65,879
  9. Vermont, US$41 billion, per capita $63,275

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversees 34 nuclear reactors, eight for research or testing and 26 for power production in the Northeastern United States.[75]


Rail systems

The New York City Subway, one of the busiest transit systems in the world, used by over two billion passengers annually
A MBTA Commuter Train. one of the Northeast's busiest commuter rail systems, entering Mansfield station in Mansfield, Massachusetts

The Northeast is served by Amtrak trains, with the Northeast Regional and Acela, two of the busiest intercity rail lines running from Washington D.C. in the south to Boston in the north. Other Amtrak Lines that serve the Northeast include the Downeaster, Empire Service, Vermonter, Lake Shore Limited, Pennsylvanian. Light rail, commuter rail, and other subway systems are also available in the region.

No. Name Metro Rail type City No. of lines Annual Ridership

(Q4 2019)[94]

1 New York City Subway New York Rapid Transit New York 36 2,723,960,100
2 MBTA subway Boston Rapid Transit/

Light Rail

Boston 12 199,501,352
3 Long Island Rail Road New York Commuter Rail New York/Long Island 13 117,773,400
4 SEPTA subway Philadelphia Rapid Transit Philadelphia 3 90,240,800
5 PATH New York Rapid Transit Newark/Jersey City/New York 4 90,276,600
6 NJ Transit Commuter Rail New York/Philadelphia Commuter Rail Hoboken/Paterson/Atlantic City 11 88,319,600
7 Metro North Railroad New York Commuter Rail NYC/New Haven/White Plains/Stamford 3-4 86,459,000
8 SEPTA Trolley Philadelphia Light Rail Philadelphia 8 24,321,200
9 SEPTA Regional Rail Philadelphia Commuter Rail Philadelphia 13 35,594,800
10 MBTA Commuter Rail Boston Commuter Rail Boston, Providence, Worcester 14 32,420,400
11 Pittsburgh Light Rail Pittsburgh Light Rail Pittsburgh, Bethel Park 3 27,975,600
12 NJ Transit Tram New York/Philadelphia Light Rail Trenton/Camden/Newark/Jersey City 3 23,700,000
13 Buffalo Metro Rail Buffalo Light Rail Buffalo 1 1,890,200
14 Hartford Line Hartford Commuter Rail New Haven, Hartford, Springfield 1 750,000[95]
15 Shore Line East New Haven Commuter Rail New Haven, New London 1 660,500

Major stations

Grand Central Terminal in New York City, a National Historic Landmark and the second-busiest train station in the nation after Penn Station, also in New York City
  • 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. Served by all SEPTA Regional Lines, Amtrak, NJ Transit's Atlantic City Line, it is the third-busiest Amtrak station and 11th-busiest train station in North America with over four million passengers in 2019.
  • Pennsylvania Station in New York City is served by some NJ Transit lines, some Long Island Railroad trains, and Amtrak trains. It is the busiest train station in North America, with over 10 million passengers in 2019, along with 27 million passengers from NJ Transit and 69 million from Long Island Rail in 2017.
  • Grand Central Terminal in New York City is served by Metro North and some Long Island Rail trains (beginning in January 2023). Grand Central Terminal had over 67 million annual passengers in 2017 and is the second-busiest train station in the nation and third-busiest in North America.
  • Union Station in New Haven, Connecticut is served by New Haven Line, Hartford Line, and Shoreline East along existing Amtrak train lines. It had 350,000 annual Amtrak passengers in 2017.
  • South Station in Boston is served by southern MBTA commuter lines and Amtrak, and was the seventh-busiest train station in North America with nearly 29 million passengers as of 2017.
  • North Station in Boston is served by northern MBTA commuter lines and the Downeaster on Amtrak. It had six million MBTA users in 2012 and 152,000 Amtrak passengers in 2021.


JFK International Airport in Queens, New York. The busiest airport in the Northeast and the 13th busiest in the nation.

The following table includes all airports categorized by the FAA as large or medium hubs[96] located in the Northeastern states.[97][98]



Metro area served Airport
Airport name Largest airline[99] Annual


13 New York JFK John F. Kennedy International Airport JetBlue (39%) 15,273,342
14 New York EWR Newark Liberty International Airport United (53%) 14,514,049
19 Boston BOS Logan International Airport JetBlue (30%) 10,909,817
21 Philadelphia PHL Philadelphia International Airport American (44%) 9,820,222
25 New York LGA LaGuardia Airport Delta (21%) 7,827,307
48 Pittsburgh PIT Pittsburgh International Airport Southwest (26%) 3,069,259
54 Hartford BDL Bradley International Airport American (17%) 2,273,259


Many major highways cross the Northeast, connecting it to the rest of the nation.

Number Length (mi)[101] Length (km) Southern or western terminus Northern or eastern terminus Formed Removed Notes
I-76 435.66 701.13 I-71 in Westfield Center, Ohio I-295 at Bellmawr, New Jersey 01964-01-011964 current Serves two northeastern states:Pennsylvania, New Jersey
Associated routes: I-176, I-276, I-376, I-476, I-676
I-78 146.28 235.41 I-81 at Jonestown, Pennsylvania Canal Street in New York City 01957-01-011957 current Serves three northeastern states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York
Associated routes: I-278, I-478, I-678, I-878
I-79 343.46 552.75 I-77 in Charleston, West Virginia PA 5 in Erie, Pennsylvania 01967-01-011967 current Serves Pennsylvania
Associated routes: I-279, I-579
I-80 2899.59 4,666.44 US 101 in San Francisco, California I-95 in Teaneck, New Jersey 01956-01-011956 current Serves 2 northeastern states: Pennsylvania and New Jersey
Associated routes: I-180, I-380, I-280
I-81 855.02 1,376.02 I-40 in Dandridge, Tennessee Canadian border at Wellesley Island, New York 01961-01-011961 current Serves two northeastern states: Pennsylvania, New York
Associated routes:I-481 and I-781
I-83 85.03 136.84 President Street and Fayette Street in Baltimore, Maryland I-81 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 01959-01-011959 current Serves Pennsylvania
Associated route: I-283
I-84 232.71 374.51 I-81 in Scranton, Pennsylvania I-90 in Sturbridge, Massachusetts 01963-01-011963 current Serves four states: Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts
Associated routes: I-384, I-684
I-86 223.39 359.51 I-90 near North East, Pennsylvania NY 17/NY 79 in Windsor, New York 01999-01-011999 current Unfinished in New York
Serves two northeastern states: Pennsylvania, New York
Associated routes: none
I-87 333.49 536.70 I-278 in New York City A-15 at Canadian border in Champlain, New York 01957-01-011957 current New York only
Associated routes: I-287, I-587, I-787
I-88 117.75 189.50 I-81 in Binghamton, New York I-90 in Schenectady, New York 01968-01-011968 current New York only
Associated routes: none
I-89 191.12 307.58 I-93/SR 3A in Bow, New Hampshire Route 133/Future A-35 at Canadian border in Highgate, Vermont 01960-01-011960 current Serves two northeastern states: New Hampshire, Vermont
Associated route: I-189
I-90 3020.44 4,860.93 SR 519/4th Avenue/Edgar Martinez Drive in Seattle, Washington MA 1A in Boston, Massachusetts 01956-01-011956 current Serves three northeastern states: Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts
Associated routes: I-190 (New York), I-290 (New York), I-390, I-490, I-590, I-690, I-790, I-890, I-990, I-190 (Massachusetts), I-290 (Massachusetts)
Longest Interstate highway in the US
I-91 290.37 467.31 I-95 in New Haven, Connecticut A-55 at Canadian border in Derby Line, Vermont 01958-01-011958 current Serves three northeastern states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont
Associated routes: I-291 (Connecticut), I-291 (Massachusetts) I-391, I-691
I-93 189.95 305.69 I-95/US 1 in Canton, Massachusetts I-91 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont 01957-01-011957 current Serves three northeastern states: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont
Associated routes: I-293, I-393
I-95 1919.31 3,088.83 US 1 in Miami, Florida NB 95 at Canadian border in Houlton, Maine 01957-01-011957 current Serves eight northeastern states:Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine
Associated routes: I-195, I-295, I-395, I-495, I-695, I-895
Longest primary north-south Interstate highway
I-99 98.34 158.26 I-70/I-76 in Bedford, Pennsylvania I-86/NY 17 in Painted Post, New York 01998-01-011998 current Unfinished in Pennsylvania
Serves two northeastern states: Pennsylvania, New York
Associated routes: none
The New Jersey Turnpike (I-95) is one of the busiest highways in the nation.

Many other minor highways exist in the Northeast, connecting cities. Major US Routes which run through the Northeast include US 1, US 2, US 3, US 4, US 5, US 6, US 7, US 9, US 11, US 13, US 15, US 19, US 20, US 22, US 30, US 40, US 44, US 46, US 62, US 130, US 201, US 202, US 206, US 209, US 219, US 220, US 222, US 224, US 302, US 322, US 422, US 522.

The Northeast has the highest amount of tolled roads/bridges in the nation with only two states in the Northeast having no tolls, Connecticut and Vermont. Notable turnpikes include the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76/I-276/I-95), New Jersey Turnpike (partially I-95), New York Thruway (I-87/I-90), Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90), Maine Turnpike (I-95), PA Turnpike Northeast Extension (I-476). The northeast also contains many tolled and non-tolled parkways, many of which are in New York City metro. Major parkways include the Garden State Parkway, Taconic State Parkway, Hutchinson River Parkway, Saw Mill River Parkway, Lake Ontario State Parkway, Niagara Scenic Parkway, Belt Parkway, Grand Central Parkway, Northern State Parkway.

Major crossings

The George Washington Bridge crossing the Hudson River, carrying most traffic on Interstate 95 from New Jersey to New York.
The Driscoll Bridge is one of the world's widest and busiest motor vehicle bridges, crossing the Raritan River on New Jersey's Garden State Parkway.
The Holland Tunnel crossing under the Hudson River, connecting Jersey City with Lower Manhattan.


The Jersey City Terminal, a major rail and ferry connection between New Jersey and New York City.
The Cross-Bronx Expressway (I-95) is an urban freeway which was built using slum clearance policies in the 1950s and 1960s. Today it is one of the most congested highways in the nation. It is regarded as a major cause for urban decay in the Bronx.[102]

The Northeast has been a place for many firsts in transportation in the US, from the first commercial railroad in the US in Milton, Massachusetts (Granite Railway), first rapid transit system (MBTA Green Line),[103] the first limited access road was the Bronx River Parkway, opened in 1922,[104] New York is also where the first urban freeway was built in the late-1930s.[105] (FDR Drive) The northeast would also be home to some of the first major freeway revolts in Greenwich Village,[106] and would see the first major highway teardown (Miller Highway) in the 1970s.[107]

Before European settlement, most of the Northeast was loosely connected by Native American trails, some of which would be incorporated into early-European settlement roads and turnpikes. One major early road was the Boston Post Road, connecting New York City and Boston along the Connecticut and Rhode Island coasts.[108] Later these roads would be included in the King's Highway, spanning most of the east coast. Smaller turnpikes would also connect cities across the northeast. These roads would prove essential to moving goods across the English colonies in the 18th century and would later play a large part in the American Revolution.[109]

The region saw a boom in canal-building in the early-19th century, with a major canal being the Erie Canal, opened in 1825, connecting the Great Lakes to the Hudson River and Atlantic Ocean through Western New York.[110] The first railroads would be built in the late-1820s and would explode in mileage in the mid to late 19th century.[111] Places like Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Newark, and Pittsburgh would become large water and rail hubs during the Industrial Revolution and would see tremendous booms in population and use.[112]

Many large rivers in the northeast like the Hudson and Delaware would be slowly crossed with bridges starting in the 1800s, with the first fixed crossing of the Hudson River south of Albany being the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge, opened in 1889.[113] The Delair Bridge, which would connect Philadelphia with New Jersey was opened six years later in 1896.[114] The first crossing of the Hudson River into New York City would be the series of Hudson River PATH tunnels, being opened in 1908 and 1909.[115] The first major vehicle tunnel would be the Holland Tunnel, opened up in 1927.[116]

The start of highway construction would be the Bronx River Parkway and Long Island Motor Parkway, both of which started construction in the early-1900s.[117] The rise of Robert Moses in New York would see the construction of many major road bridges and highways crossing the city and metro area. East River Drive (eventually renamed FDR Drive), was built along the corresponding river in Manhattan.[118] The mid-20th century would see the rise of urban and suburban freeways and the decline of passenger and freight rail, with many lesser used tracks being abandoned or torn up during this time.[119] It would also see the original Pennsylvania Station demolished in Midtown Manhattan during the mid-1960s.[120] The construction of the Cross-Bronx Expressway in New York, Central Artery in Boston, and the Vine Street Expressway in Philadelphia tore up many ethnic and minority neighborhoods in the name of urban renewal.[121][122][123][124] Many other highways were proposed during this era, like the Lower Manhattan Expressway and the Inner Belt in Boston, which were not built due to fierce highway revolts and rising costs.[106][124][125] After the major highway revolts and rise of environmental concerns, new highway and interstate projects were mostly cancelled or shortened in the Northeast by the 1990s.

Despite the lack of new major road projects in the Northeast, the region has still continued to grow in population, resulting in the rise of alternative forms of transport like HOV lanes or commuter rails. This has led to the Northeast having one of the highest transit usage percentages in North America, with the Long Island Railroad being the most used commuter rail in the continent.[126] One exception was the Big Dig, a major road project that would tear down the former elevated Central Artery (I-93) and instead tunnel it (and widen). It would also construct a new Charles River bridge and the Ted Williams Tunnel (I-90). This would end up becoming one of the costliest construction projects in the world, costing $21 billion adjusted to 2020 inflation.[127] The former highway's path would become the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a large public park. The Sheridan Expressway (former I-895) was also rebuilt into a boulevard in the late-2010s.[128] Rochester, New York has torn down the Inner Loop due to low traffic and to reunify neighborhoods in downtown and to create developable space.[129]


One geographer, Wilbur Zelinsky, asserts that the Northeast region lacks a unified cultural identity,[17] but has served as a "culture hearth" for the rest of the nation.[130] Several much smaller geographical regions within the Northeast have distinct cultural identities.[17]


Almost half of the National Historic Landmarks maintained by the National Park Service are located in the Northeastern United States.[131]


According to a 2009 Gallup poll, the Northeastern states differ from most of the rest of the U.S. in religious affiliation, generally reflecting the descendants of immigration patterns of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with many Catholics arriving from Ireland, Italy, French Canada - Quebec, Portugal and east-central Europe. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey are the only states in the nation where Catholics outnumber Protestants and other Christian denominations. More than 20% of respondents in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont declared no religious identity.[132] Compared to other U.S. regions, the Northeast, along with the Pacific Northwest, has had the lowest regular religious service attendance and the fewest people for whom religion is an important part of their daily lives as of 2015.[133]


The Northeast region is home to numerous professional sports franchises in the "Big Four" leagues (NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB),[134] with more than 100 championships collectively among them.[135]

Major League Soccer features four Northeastern teams: New England Revolution, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union. The region also has two WNBA teams: Connecticut Sun and New York Liberty.

Notable golf tournaments in the Northeastern United States include The Northern Trust, Travelers Championship, and Atlantic City LPGA Classic. The US Open, held in New York, is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments.

Notable Northeastern motorsports tracks include Watkins Glen International, Pocono Raceway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Lime Rock Park, which have hosted Formula One, IndyCar, NASCAR and International Motor Sports Association races. Also, drag strips such as Englishtown, Epping and Reading have hosted NHRA national events. Belmont Park at New York hosts the Belmont Stakes horse races, which is part of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing.

The region has also been noted for the prevalence of the traditionally Northeastern sports of ice hockey and lacrosse.[136]


The Northeastern United States tended to vote Republican in federal elections through the first half of the 20th century, but the region has since the 1990s shifted to become the most Democratic in the nation.[13] Results from a 2008 Gallup poll indicated that eight of the top ten Democratic states were located in the region, with every Northeastern state having a Democratic Party affiliation advantage of at least ten points.[137] The following table demonstrates Democratic support in the Northeast as compared to the remainder of the nation.[138]

Year % President vote % Senate seats % House seats
Northeast Remainder Northeast Remainder Northeast Remainder
2000 57.6 47.5 60.0 46.3 59.6 45.7
2002     60.0 45.0 58.3 44.7
2004 57.1 47.3 60.0 40.0 59.5 43.0
2006     75.0 45.0 73.8 48.3
2008 60.7 52.0 80.0 52.5 81.0 52.9
2010     75.0 47.5 67.9 38.5

The following table of United States presidential election results since 1920 illustrates that over the past seven presidential elections, only three Northeastern states supported a Republican candidate (New Hampshire voted for George W. Bush in 2000; Pennsylvania and Maine's 2nd congressional district voted for Donald Trump in 2016).[139] 2004 is so far the only election in U.S. history in which the winner did not win any northeastern state. Bolded entries indicate that party's candidate also won the general election.

State 1920 1924 1928 1932 1936 1940 1944 1948 1952 1956 1960 1964 1968 1972 1976 1980 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012 2016 2020
(R ME-02)
(R ME-02)

The following table shows the breakdown of party affiliation of governors, attorneys general, state legislative houses and U.S. congressional delegation for the Northeastern states, as of May 2020. (Demographics reflect registration-by-party figures from that state's registered voter statistics.)

State Governor Attorney general Upper House majority Lower House majority Senior U.S. senator Junior U.S. senator U.S. House delegation Demographics
CT Democratic Democratic Democratic
Democratic Democratic Democratic
ME Democratic Democratic Democratic
Republican Independent Democratic
MA Democratic Democratic Democratic
Democratic Democratic Democratic
NH Republican Republican Republican
Democratic Democratic Democratic
NJ Democratic Democratic Democratic
Democratic Democratic Democratic
NY Democratic Democratic Democratic
Democratic Democratic Democratic
PA Democratic Democratic Republican
Democratic Democratic Democratic
RI Democratic Democratic Democratic
Democratic Democratic Democratic
VT Republican Democratic Democratic
Democratic Independent Democratic

See also


  1. ^ Elevation adjusted to North American Vertical Datum of 1988.
  2. ^ The term "East Coast" is almost exclusively used to refer to the Northeastern megalopolis. As stated in numerous dictionaries and encyclopedias, including both the Oxford English Dictionary and the American Heritage Dictionary, the 'East Coast' primarily refers to the region between Washington D.C. in the south and Boston in the north.[7][8][9] Historically, the term has always connoted the Northeast.
  3. ^ The U.S. Census Bureau reorganized its administrative units, and its regional offices do not cover the Census regions (the northeasternmost regional office headquartered in New York covers New England, New York, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico).[59]
  4. ^ Based on U.S. Census Bureau population projections to 2030 (and assuming constant land area) the population density for the South Atlantic division will increase significantly to 294.6/mi2, New England's density will increase to 249.2/mi2 and the East North Central division will increase only slightly to 200.2/mi2. The division with the 5th highest density is projected to be the East South Central division at 111.6/mi2.[92]


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External links

42°N 73°W / 42°N 73°W / 42; -73