Features

California’s northernmost counties adopt new ‘upstate’ designation

The Associated Press
Monday October 22, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO – An area of California that’s almost the same size as New York state has something else in common with New York: its “upstate” moniker. 

Tired of being unknown or confused with the San Francisco Bay Area when people refer to “Northern California,” the 20 northernmost counties of the Golden State have changed their collective name. 

Economic development officials are referring to the 46,900-square-mile area as “Upstate California,” in an attempt to lure tourists and businesses to the rural north. They’ve even given it a slogan; “Above it all.” 

Although other names, such as California North Country and California’s True North fared better in a survey of business people and public relations professionals, those who organized the campaign opted for “upstate” in order to make a clean break from names that included “north.” 

The new name is part of a $100,000 marketing campaign to give the region — which has about 30 percent of the state’s land and about 4.5 percent of its population — its own identity. The biggest city is Redding, with a population of 80,000. 

The northernmost part of the state has usually lagged behind the rest of California’s economy, with high unemployment that has grown with the closing of lumber mills and consolidation of the timber industry. 

It’s an affordable region, compared to the rest of California’s sky-high rents and land prices, and some high-tech companies, such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Oracle, are already present there. And it’s still largely agricultural, with prunes and rice two of the major crops.