This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

The Midwest, the West, and the West Coast

I grew up in the Midwest. I live in the West. I have also lived on the West Coast. And I'd always wondered about those terms. But I think I have it figured out. These terms are still in common use today, and they only make sense from an historical perspective. I will tell you what I've learned by using an example of each place.

The West Coast

This makes the most sense, so I'll start with Los Angeles. The United States has two coasts, one on the east and one on the west. But after this, it gets kind'a complicated. Stay with me on this, because Los Angeles, although about as far west as you can go on the continental United States, isn't the West. So, this past weekend when I flew east from Los Angeles to Phoenix I was going West. By the way, my T-shirt in the photo said, *Goodbye, Minnesota, Hello California*. I have no idea where I got it.

The West

Phoenix, Arizona is in the west. This is also known as the Far West. Or the New West. This is not the Old West, nor is it the Midwest.

The Midwest

My hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota is the Midwest. This area is also known as the Old West.

To make sense of it all, you have to travel back in time, to about the turn of the century, when most of the population of the United States lived on the East Coast. And as newspapers needed a term for these vague areas *out west*, they started with just *The West*, which we think of the Old West today, and which has been come to be called The Midwest. It's west, just not all that far west. Look up where Wild Bill Hickok was killed. It was in the Old West, the Midwest, Dakota Territory to be exact.

Then it starts to blur into places like New Mexico, where it can be argued that it's the *Old West*, but no one would call it the Midwest. And to make it all the more confusing, you have to look at how the east coast saw California. You couldn't even get there by going west until the railroads were built after the Civil War. You got there by sailing around South America. So, people leaving Boston to go to San Francisco didn't really say that they were going west. That would have meant something else entirely. Do you follow me on this?

If you watch the animation *Rango*, you will see them talk about The Spirit of West, and poke fun at Californians, who aren't *really* from the west. But to me it's all the west, from Minneapolis, to Phoenix, to LA.
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