Tom Downing / PA Post
Tom Downing / PA Post
This is Pennsylvania.
We did a little research to find colloquial phrases, tourism terms and geological descriptors that refer to the commonwealth’s many regions. Then we asked which of those terms you use or have heard. In all, 372 people responded to our survey. The map above shows the most commonly used terms in larger fonts, while lesser-used phrases appear smaller. Note: The placement of these names may not be exact in order to avoid overlapping words.
The most commonly used term among our survey respondents overlapped with where our largest group of responses came from: Central Pennsylvania. Other regions those several hundred people all seemed to agree on are the Pocono Mountains, Western Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.
People are least familiar with the Polish Poconos as a region. That term was new to most of us at PA Post, too. Reporter Brett Sholtis encountered it while working on a story about a Tamaqua cafe built and staffed by people who have struggled with addiction.
Other lesser-known regions fall into the geological category: Atlantic Coastal Plain, Erie Coastal Plain and Pennsylvania Piedmont.
In addition to the terms we included in the survey, we asked what descriptors people use that we did not include. A lot of the responses we got regarded Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or county names. For reference, we purposefully omitted those — because cities and counties are all on maps, and we know them well — when creating the survey. We also intentionally left controversial terms off the list.
Also, because of your submissions, we realized the initial list didn’t include the common terms Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southcentral Pennsylvania. We added those partway through the submission period.
Here are some of the submissions received:
We also asked survey respondents which region they called home, and we noticed differences even within the same general area. For example, residents in the northeastern part of the state largely identified themselves as living in NEPA, but one particular survey respondent took issue with the acronym: “Northeastern PA (NOT ‘NEPA’!!!)”
Unlike the northeast, most other regions’ residents prefer to spell out the cardinal directions. Only a handful of survey respondents said they call SEPA or NWPA home.