I grew up on the East Coast, and as I grow older, I find myself experiencing more of the world, and yearning to see more of it, but I know that I will always call the East Coast home, for all of the following reasons.
1. Dunkin' Donuts
Dunkin' Donuts is quintessential East Coast. Founded in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1950, the chain has spread across the globe. While there are many coffee chains across the East Coast, such as Starbucks, Panera and indie stores, Dunkin' holds a special place in every East Coasters' heart because the coffee is amazing, the donuts are light and fluffy, with the perfect sugar to dough ratio, and they have great bagels. I love Dunkin', and know that wherever I go, there is probably a Dunkin' near by.
While Dunkin' does have good bagels, the best bagels are found in independent stores across the East Coast. When I took a day trip to Manhattan two weeks ago, I stopped in a store called Bagel Maven for a toasted pumpernickel bagel with lox and cream cheese. It was the best bagel I ever had; good bagels cannot be found outside the East.
In the same grain as bagels, pizza is also best on the East Coast. The perfect piping-hot piece of pizza fresh from the oven is hard to find once you get across the Appalachians. I refer to this Buzzfeed video, which sums up the search for pizza outside the East:
While this list expounds upon the virtues of the East Coast, as hard as it is to admit, the East Coast is not the only thing in the world. When we East Coasters want to go globetrotting, planes are our best friends. With Dulles, JFK, La Guardia, Newark, Philly, Logan, BWI and Reagan all close to us if we want to go anywhere in the world a plane is within our grasp. The West Coast, Alaska, Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and Northern Africa are all about 3,000 miles from the East Coast, and probably a direct flight away.
We have planes to go around the world, trains are the best way to access the East Coast itself. When I went to Manhattan recently, and saw "Bright Star," I only decided to go four days before I went. This short-notice plan would only have been possible thanks to Amtrak. I bought tickets from Elizabethtown to Penn Station for under $150 round trip. For cheap I can go to D.C., Philly, NYC or Boston with ease and speed.
The East Coast is densely populated, but not everyone lives in the big cities; many of us, myself included, live in small towns that dot the landscape from Virginia to Maine. Some of the best memories I have involve piling in a car with my friends, driving for 30 minutes, and seeing what else is around where we are. If you were to do the same thing outside the East you could easily drive for over an hour before coming to another town.
7. The center of the world
I have admitted that the East is not the center of the world, but in a way we are. With so many forms of transportation and ease of access to the rest of the world, the East has grown accustomed to being the center of the world, while this might make us arrogant at times, we feel it is a duty we must carry.
The East is so densely populated that it impossible to live your life here and only meet people who are like you. Whether it be farm kids and suburbanites going to school together, Catholics, Protestants and Jews living on the same block, having Indian immigrants for neighbors, or just eating at the new Thai restaurant in town. The East truly is the epitome of America’s melting pot. The East is not very vanilla, it is more like a kitchen sink.
9. Big cities
Growing up on the East Coast exposes children to big cities from a young age. Going on field trips to Philadelphia or Washington in elementary school, trips to see Broadway shows in high school, day trips up and down the coast just because are afforded us because of proximity. As a result East Coast kids learn from an early age how to carry themselves in cities. I met someone at college who grew up in Texas and had only ever been to San Antonio in way of big cites, everything else was too far away. He could not believe that I go to Philly, NYC or D.C. on a regular basis. Or even on a whim. An of course, how can we be a megalopolis without cities?
This point comes hand in hand with big cities. The East Coast is steeped in history, it seems that if you walk down any street here you will pass a plaque, marker or sign alerting you to some historical event, person or place. East Coasters grow up in their history since it is so easily accessible to us all. I was at a conference in New Brunswick in March and had time to kill, so I walked around and passed a church that was one of the first Episcopalian churches in America founded by Samuel Seabury. Like I said, the East is steeped in history. Also, the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in Philadelphia; George Washington was inaugurated in Manhattan; Washington, D.C.; was a new city for a new nation; and Boston is just built out of history.
I saved the best for last, since my family was built upon East Coast farmland. While everyone knows the Midwest as America’s Breadbasket, East Coast farms are a jewel for us. We have big cities, access to the world, history, great food, and a mix of cultures and identities, but the farms provide diversity to us, showing that we are not just one giant city stretching from the Potomac to the Charles Rivers, but a storied and mixed land, with much more to offer.