Posted by Bruce Kahl on March 07, 2004
In Reply to: Up & down posted by James Briggs on March 07, 2004
: : I'm reading a Kathy Reichs book in which there is a paragraph where the heroine describes her own house. It reads... "Though cramped, the place is perfect for me. Bedroom and bath up. Kitchen, dining room, parlor, guest room/study down. Twelve hundred square feet. What realtors call "cozy"."
: : Does this 'up & down' thing mean up and down stairs?
: : And while I'm at it. Americans often tend to refer to parts of the city as uptown and downtown. I used to think that 'uptown' meant the wealthier part of town and 'downtown' meant the poorer part of town. Only problem with that theory is that sometimes they tend to talk about what seems to be trendy parts of town being 'downtown', so it doesn't equate to my theory.
: : So is this uptown/downtown thing in reference to altitude, geography, wealth, population or something else completely? And is this a U.S. thing?
: : thanks
: 'Up and Down' does, indeed, refer to up and downstairs.
: As far a 'Downtown' is concerned, this seem to be very much a N American term. I too wondered what it meant until, on a trip to Canada, I saw the French equivalent 'Centre Ville'. In the UK we call it the 'City Centre'. 'Downtown' is never used, except to quote some US or Canadian source, or if the reporter comes from there.
: What about the rest of the English speaking world?
The uptown/downtown thing, at least here in the NYC area, is twofold.
Most of Manhattan, which to most people in the world is NYC, is numbered along a graph paper-like grid.
The streets run east and west while the avenues run north and south.
The lower numbered streets start in the southern part of Manhattan and get higher as you go north.
So downtown is south of uptown.
The idea of uptown or downtown also depends on where you are and where you are going.
So if you are at 14th street and want to go to 43rd street you would take an uptown bus or train.
And if you are at 3rd street and want to go to 14th street you would also take an uptown bus or train.
If you are at 72nd and want to go to 8th you would take a bus downtown etc etc.
The World Trade Center was at a spot that was just about as far downtown you could go.
As in a song from another era says:
"When you're alone and life is making you lonely you can always go........downtown!"
Downtown, as opposed to midtown or uptown, is where the trendy clubs and restarurants always tend to be. Most alternatives exist or start downtown. The Beat Generation existed in Greenwich Village in the late fifties. The anti-war movement/"hippie" movement existed in the East Village back in the mid to late sixties. Many alternative music and other arts started in the downtown areas of NYC. Cheap rents attracted struggling artists to these areas.
So the idea of "downtown" has tended to be associated with "alternative" while "uptown" has become associated with "the establishment".
Pee on Bush.