Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona, just for fun. Advertising-free, supported by my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Why California is not out west, but Arizona is, and Minnesota is the midwest


If you stand in California and say, "let's go out West", no one will really think that you plan to jump into the Pacific Ocean. The American West is Arizona, New Mexico, that sort of thing. And if you stand in California and say, "let's go to the midwest", you mean the area around Minnesota.

The reason for this confusion is that we have been calling these areas these names for a very long time. To be fair, California is known as the West Coast, which differentiates it from The East Coast - and this actually makes sense. The rest really makes no sense, unless you know the history.

"The West" is what Americans called anything west of the Mississippi River for hundreds of years. And if you needed to clarify which part of "the west" you meant, you just said "midwest" for Minnesota and "far west" for Arizona.

These names have stuck long after the point of view changed. So, I live in The West, Arizona, and grew up in the Midwest, Minnesota. I lived in California for a while, but then I came back west - by going east.

Image above: Las Virgenes Canyon, Calabasas, California, which is west of where I live, in Glendale, Arizona. But not out west.

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