Midwest (United States of America)
The Midwest is a region of the United States of America known as "America's Heartland", which refers to its primary role in the nation's manufacturing and farming sectors as well as its patchwork of big commercial cities and small towns that, in combination, are considered as the broadest representation of American culture. In fact, most national television broadcasters speak with a midwestern accent. The American Midwest was the home of more than one quarter of U.S. Presidents as well as the birthplace of the inventors and entrepreneurs of most of the technology that fuels the world's economy- examples include airplane, automobile, electric lighting, the transistor, petroleum, steel production. The Midwest is also home to abundant nature including the massive Great Lakes and the vast Northwoods which cover northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan and spill over into Canada making the far end of the upper Midwest very different in character to the more urbanized, agricultural, and industrialized lower Midwest. The Midwest contains many large cities, the largest being Chicago.
The following eight states of the Midwest account for one-fifth of the U.S. population, according to the 2005 Census estimates taken by the United States Census Bureau:
See also the pages for the states of the Midwest, for smaller but still substantial cities in the region. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2005 population estimates, the region includes nine of the 25 largest combined metropolitan statistical areas in the United States.
The term "Midwest" refers to a collection of states just east of center in the United States. This area is sometimes referred to as the "heart" or "rust belt" of America and is often associated with agriculture and industry (historically manufacturing but this has faded as years have passed). The culture of the Midwest is generally acknowledged to be "down to earth". States bordering the Great Lakes (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) are sometimes called the "North Coast", "Third Coast", or "Fresh Coast" (in reference to the freshwater Great Lakes) as parallels to the East Coast and West Coast.
English is, as in the rest of the U.S., the de-facto official language. The "Midwestern Accent" is the voice most commonly heard on national newscasts across the country. Some areas with large Hispanic populations might have a sizable majority speaking Spanish, but inhabitants there have at least basic English skills. Most of the larger cities have sizable diverse ethnic communities with many first generation immigrants. Extreme southern and northern portions of the Midwest have their own minor linguistic quirks, but generally the English spoken here is among the easiest dialect to understand in all America. Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis all have sizable African-American minorities with their own distinct accents, slang, and forms. The southern parts of Indiana and much of Missouri are often classified as part of the Midsouth and share some things in common with the Southern cultural sphere.
The Midwest is served by several international airports, including many of the major US airlines' national hubs. Chicago-O'Hare (United and American), Chicago Midway International Airport (Southwest), Detroit (Delta), Minneapolis-Saint Paul (Delta), Milwaukee (Midwest), and Saint Louis-Lambert (American).
The Midwest is served by several interstate highways. Most of the states in the Midwest can be accessed by the major east-west corridors of:
Additionally, several major interstate highways have their northern, eastern and western termini in Midwest states including:
Amtrak also operates several routes through the Midwest, including several that primarily connect Chicago directly to other major Midwest cities. The major routes running through several Midwest states and major cities include:
Many major metropolitan areas also have secondary international and regional airports, supporting national, discount and commuter airlines.
In addition to the major interstates listed above, many Midwest cities have secondary interstate service such as outerbelt and by-pass systems.
Medium-sized cities in the Midwest, like the rest of the nation, may lack city-suburban rail service, although Amtrak routes may suffice in some case. Chicago, however, does have city-suburban rail service in its expansive Metra rail; as well as being the national hub of Amtrak, with service radiating out to all parts of the country.
Inland History and Culture
The Twin Cities is the third-largest theater market in the United States, and second-largest per capita, supporting many companies including the Jungle, Mixed Blood, Skewed Visions, the Brave New Workshop, Theater Latté Da and the Children's Theatre Company. Three historic theaters, the Orpheum, the Pantages, and the State Theater line Hennepin Avenue. St. Paul's Fitzgerald Theater is the home of the nationally-renowned program "A Prairie Home Companion," owned by National Public Radio. The Chanhassen Dinner Theatres in Chanhassen, Minnesota, founded in 1968, is the largest professional dinner theater in the U.S.; the Main Stage seats 577.
Arguably the center of the Twin Cities theater scene, the Guthrie was founded in 1963 and has been located along the Mississippi River since 2006. Its current facility, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, was named in 2006 one of GQ Magazine's 10 Most Important Buildings for the 21st Century. Of its three theaters, the 1100-seat thrust theater is the largest, followed by the 700-seat proscenium stage, and the flexible black box studio.
Touring companies stop frequently at venues across the Midwest, especially in the cities of Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and St. Louis. Chicago in particular has long been an important stop for New York-based touring productions, mainly playing out of theaters in "The Loop." Chicago theatre is home to more than 200 small, critically acclaimed theatre companies such as Lifeline Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Redmoon Theater, Trap Door Theatre, and TUTA Theatre. Some have their own performance venues, while many perform in untraditional theatre spaces such as storefronts, public spaces like laundromats or bars, or any number of studio or black box theatres around Chicago.
The worldwide scene of house music was crafted in Chicago in the early 1980s, and went global by the 1990s. Industrial music was also created in Chicago in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City have legendary jazz and blues clubs. Many of the greats have not only traveled the region extensively whilst on tour, but more than a handful were born or resided in the region, with these cities leading the way.
The Midwest is a patchwork of big cities, small towns and farming communities. Being the epicenter of the American Industrial Revolution, it attracted an influx of immigrants and African Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, resulting in a diverse ethnic culinary experience from the heavy German, Irish, Polish and African-American urban populations to rural Amish and Mennonite cooking traditions. Big Midwest cities, like Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee, are known for their bratwurst, kielbasa, Italian sausage and good old American hot dogs. Smaller, rural clusters, like the German Amana Colonies, in east-central Iowa, is home to some of the best German-American food in the Midwest. Known for family-style dining, the Amana Colonies provide hearty foods the Midwest is know for.
Chicago is a melting pot of various cultures. Parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin have a Scandinavian influence. Locally grown food is seasonally available in rural areas, often at roadside stands. Spring crops include salad greens, radishes, sweet peas and spinach. Summer's abundance includes sweet corn, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, onions, melons, berries, apples, cherries, peaches and pears. The agricultural abundance can be excellent in season and seems to encourage large helpings year around.
The rural areas and quaint small towns of the Midwest are among the safest for travelers and residents in all America. Parts of the larger cities should be avoided after dark.
Weather in the Midwest can range from heat waves in July and August, to very cold weather in January and February. Tornadoes are common in the Midwest in the springtime, but ample warnings are often given to help protect property and lives. If the weather on the road appears to be turning inclement, local radio and television stations will continuously offer advice and information.