West Coast of the United States

Last updated
West Coast of the United States
US Pacific States.svg
Location of the West Coast (red)

in the United States  (tan)

as defined by the Census Bureau.
Country Flag of the United States.svg  United States
Principal cities Los Angeles
San Diego
San Jose
San Francisco
Sacramento
Portland
Seattle
Anchorage
Honolulu
Largest city Los Angeles
Largest metropolitan area Greater Los Angeles
Area
  Total1,009,688 sq mi (2,615,080 km2)
  Land895,287 sq mi (2,318,780 km2)
  Water21,433 sq mi (55,510 km2)
  Coastal28,913 sq mi (74,880 km2)
Highest elevation20,310 ft (6,190.5 m)
Lowest elevation−282 ft (−86 m)
Population
 (2020)
  Total53,669,422 [lower-alpha 1]
Time zone
Mountain UTC−7:00
  Summer (DST) UTC−6:00
Pacific UTC−8:00
  Summer (DST) UTC−7:00
Alaska UTC−9:00
  Summer (DST) UTC−8:00
Hawaii UTC−10:00

The West Coast of the United States, also known as the Pacific Coast, Pacific states, and the western seaboard, is the coastline along which the Western United States meets the North Pacific Ocean. The term typically refers to the contiguous U.S. states of California, Oregon, and Washington, but sometimes includes Alaska and Hawaii, especially by the United States Census Bureau as a U.S. geographic division.

Contents

With the exception of Alaska, the Democratic Party has dominated West Coast politics in contemporary history, with the states consistently voting for Democrats in elections at various levels. Four out of five West Coast states have voted for Democrats in presidential elections since 1992, three of which have done so since 1988.

Definition

There are conflicting definitions of which states comprise the West Coast of the United States, but the West Coast always includes California, Oregon, and Washington as part of that definition. Under most circumstances, however, the term encompasses the three contiguous states and Alaska, as they are all located in North America. For census purposes, Hawaii is part of the West Coast, along with the other four states. [3] Encyclopædia Britannica refers to the North American region as part of the Pacific Coast, including Alaska and British Columbia. Although the encyclopedia acknowledges the inclusion of Hawaii in some capacity as part of the region, the editors wrote that "it has little in common geologically with the mainland states." [4]

Several dictionaries offer different definitions of the West Coast. Lexico restricts the West Coast's definition to "the western seaboard of the U.S. from Washington to California." [5] However, Macmillan Dictionary provides a less specific definition as "the western coast of the U.S., along the Pacific Ocean." [6] As for the Cambridge Dictionary, the West Coast is "the area of the Pacific coast in the U.S. that includes California." [7]

History

The history of the West Coast begins with the arrival of the earliest known humans of the Americas, Paleo-Indians, crossing the Bering Strait from Eurasia into North America over a land bridge, Beringia, that existed between 45,000 BCE and 12,000 BCE (47,000–14,000 years ago). Small isolated groups of hunter-gatherers migrated alongside herds of large herbivores far into Alaska. Between 16,500 BCE and 13,500 BCE (18,500–15,500 years ago), ice-free corridors developed along the Pacific coast and valleys of North America and possibly by sea. [8]

Alaska Natives, indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, and California indigenous peoples eventually descended from the Paleo-Indians. They developed various languages and established trade routes.[ citation needed ]

Later, Spanish, British, French, Russian, and American explorers and settlers began colonizing the area.[ citation needed ]

Climaxing A Century Of Progress In Transportation (NBY 415278).jpg

On May 10, 1869 the first transcontinental railroad was completed joining the West Coast to the East of the United States.

Climate

The West Coast of the United States has an oceanic climate in its Northwestern, Northern, and Eastern edge towards the U.S.-Canada border, but from Northern California, towards the U.S.-Mexico border the climate is mediterranean. While the northern half of the west coast, particularly coastal Washington and Oregon has moderate rainfall, particularly during the winter months, much of coastal California is drier year-round. The coastline sees significantly mild temperatures when compared to the inland areas during summer. In far Northern California there is a difference of 17 °C (30 °F) between Eureka and Willow Creek in spite of only 25 miles (40 km) separating the locations and Willow Creek being located at a 500 metres (1,600 ft) elevation. Slightly narrower fluctuations can be seen all through the coastline, and could partially be explained by the cold currents in the Pacific Ocean moderating coastal temperatures and the mountain ranges blocking the maritime air from moving farther inland than its foothills during summer. Coastal fog is also prevalent in keeping shoreline temperatures cool. While famous in the San Francisco Bay Area, coastal fog also affects Santa Monica in Los Angeles, Southern California, leading to May gray and June gloom conditions. Coastal California has very little yearly temperature differences with cool summers similar to those expected in parts of Northern Europe in San Francisco but warmer temperatures year-round further south. A short journey inland and summer temperatures are comparable with the rest of the United States on the same latitudes, sometimes warmer due to prevailing winds from the Nevada and Arizona hot desert climate. Humidity is far lower on the west coast compared to the eastern seaboard and thunderstorms are uncommon. [ citation needed ]

Government and politics

State governments

Governors of the West Coast
StateGovernorPartyTerm
StartEnd
 RepublicanDecember 3, 20182022
Gavin Newsom  DemocraticJanuary 7, 20192023
 DemocraticDecember 1, 20142022
 DemocraticFebruary 18, 20152023
 DemocraticJanuary 16, 20132025

Ideology and party strength

In politics, the West Coast usually refers to the contiguous coastal states of California, Oregon, and Washington because of their similar political leanings. In 2017, The Oregonian columnist David Sarasohn described the West Coast as a "blue wall" of shared values on immigration, abortion, climate change, and civil liberties. [9] By 2016, the West Coast states legalized marijuana after California voted to do so. [10] According to a 2019 Pew Research Center poll, 72% of adults in Pacific states said that "climate change is affecting their local community at least some", higher than in any other region in the country. [11]

Since 1992, the three states have voted for Democrats in presidential elections without interruption, but Oregon and Washington also voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in 1988. [12] Although the three states have reliably voted Democratic, no Democratic presidential candidate from any of the three states has won their party's nomination as of 2020. [13]

After the 2018 elections, the Democratic Party controlled all but one coastal seat in the United States House of Representatives US House 2018.svg
After the 2018 elections, the Democratic Party controlled all but one coastal seat in the United States House of Representatives

In the 2010s, Democrats strengthened their political power along the West Coast. After winning a special election for a seat in the Washington state senate in 2017, Democrats built a government trifecta in all three West Coast states. [14] After the 2018 U.S. House of Representatives elections, Democrats controlled all West Coast congressional districts except Washington's 3rd, represented by a Republican. [15]

Even though Hawaii is not usually part of the West Coast in the political definition, it has been a Democratic stronghold. Before achieving statehood in 1959, Hawaii became a state favorable to Democrats to the point that they sought statehood for the territory. However, Southern Democrats opposed the move because it would mean additional votes against their region on several issues. [16] Since achieving statehood, Hawaii consistently voted for Democrats in presidential elections, except in 1972 and 1984. [17] In 2016, the Democratic Party unseated the lone Republican in the Hawaii Senate and controlled all seats in the state's upper house, which had not occurred anywhere in the country since 1980. [18]

Dissimilar to the rest of the West Coast, Alaska has been a reliable state for Republicans in presidential elections. Since achieving statehood, Alaska has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate only once in 1964. In 1960, the state narrowly voted for Republican Richard Nixon over Democrat John F. Kennedy and had voted for Republicans uninterrupted since 1968. [19]

Presidential election history

Parties
Democratic Republican Progressive
Presidential electoral votes in the Pacific States since 1852
YearAlaska [20] California [21] Hawaii [22] Oregon [23] Washington [24]
1852 No election Pierce No electionNo electionNo election
1856 No election Buchanan No electionNo electionNo election
1860 No election Lincoln No election Lincoln No election
1864 No election Lincoln No election Lincoln No election
1868 No election Grant No election Seymour No election
1872 No election Grant No election Grant No election
1876 No election Hayes No election Hayes No election
1880 No election Hancock No election Garfield No election
1884 No election Blaine No election Blaine No election
1888 No election Harrison No election Harrison No election
1892 No election Cleveland No election Harrison Harrison
1896 No election McKinley No election McKinley Bryan
1900 No election McKinley No election McKinley McKinley
1904 No election Roosevelt No election Roosevelt Roosevelt
1908 No election Taft No election Taft Taft
1912 No election Roosevelt No election Wilson Roosevelt
1916 No election Wilson No election Hughes Wilson
1920 No election Harding No election Harding Harding
1924 No election Coolidge No election Coolidge Coolidge
1928 No election Hoover No election Hoover Hoover
1932 No election Roosevelt No election Roosevelt Roosevelt
1936 No election Roosevelt No election Roosevelt Roosevelt
1940 No election Roosevelt No election Roosevelt Roosevelt
1944 No election Roosevelt No election Roosevelt Roosevelt
1948 No election Truman No election Dewey Truman
1952 No election Eisenhower No election Eisenhower Eisenhower
1956 No election Eisenhower No election Eisenhower Eisenhower
1960 Nixon Nixon Kennedy Nixon Nixon
1964 Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson
1968 Nixon Nixon Humphrey Nixon Humphrey
1972 Nixon Nixon Nixon Nixon Nixon
1976 Ford Ford Carter Ford Ford
1980 Reagan Reagan Carter Reagan Reagan
1984 Reagan Reagan Reagan Reagan Reagan
1988 Bush Bush Dukakis Dukakis Dukakis
1992 Bush Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton
1996 Dole Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton
2000 Bush Gore Gore Gore Gore
2004 Bush Kerry Kerry Kerry Kerry
2008 McCain Obama Obama Obama Obama
2012 Romney Obama Obama Obama Obama
2016 Trump Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton
2020 Trump Biden Biden Biden Biden
YearAlaskaCaliforniaHawaiiOregonWashington

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.
1900 2,634,285
1910 4,448,53468.9%
1920 5,877,78832.1%
1930 8,622,01146.7%
1940 10,228,55618.6%
1950 15,114,96447.8%
1960 21,198,04440.2%
1970 26,524,13125.1%
1980 31,799,70519.9%
1990 39,127,30623.0%
2000 45,025,63715.1%
2010 49,880,10210.8%
2020 53,669,4227.6%
Source: 1910–2020 [25]
Los Angeles is the largest city on the West Coast and second-largest in the United States Los Angeles, Winter 2016.jpg
Los Angeles is the largest city on the West Coast and second-largest in the United States

According to the results of the 2020 United States Census, 16 of the 20 largest cities on the West Coast exist in California. Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose, all among the top 10 most populous cities in the country, lead the West Coast in population with more than a million people in each city, with Los Angeles being nearly three times the size of San Diego's population. Behind these three cities, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland are respectively fourth, fifth and sixth in population. Hawaii's capital and largest city, Honolulu, is the 13th largest city, and Alaska's largest city, Anchorage, is 17th on the West Coast. [26]

Top 10 Largest Cities on the West Coast
CityCity Population (2020)
LA Skyline Mountains2.jpg
Los Angeles
3,898,747
San Diego, CA USA - View from Coronado - panoramio.jpg
San Diego
1,386,932
SAN JOSE CALIFORNIA BAYAREA01 (cropped).jpg
San Jose
1,013,240
SanFranciscoFinancialDistrict.jpg
San Francisco
873,965
Space Needle002.jpg
Seattle
737,015
Portland and Mt. Hood from Pittock Mansion.jpg
Portland
652,503
Downtown Fresno Skyline.jpg
Fresno
542,107
Sacramento Skyline (cropped).jpg
Sacramento
524,943
Long Beach 07.jpg
Long Beach
466,742
OAKLAND, CA, USA - Skyline and Bridge.JPG
Oakland
440,646

[27] [28] [29] [30] [31]

Culture

Since the West Coast has been populated by immigrants and their descendants more recently than the East Coast, its culture is considerably younger. Additionally, its demographic composition underlies its cultural difference from the rest of the United States. California's history first as a major Spanish colony, and later Mexican territory, has given the lower West Coast a distinctive Hispanic American tone, which it also shares with the rest of the Southwest. Similarly, two of the three cities in which Asian Americans have concentrated, San Francisco and Los Angeles, [32] [33] [34] are located on the West Coast, with significant populations in other West Coast cities. San Francisco's Chinatown, the oldest in North America, is a noted cultural center.

The West Coast also has a proportionally large share of green cities within the United States, which manifests itself in different cultural practices such as bicycling and organic gardening. [35]

In the Pacific Northwest, Portland and Seattle are both considered among the coffee capitals of the world. [36] While Starbucks originated in Seattle, both cities are known for small-scale coffee roasters and independent coffeeshops. The culture has also been significantly shaped by the environment, especially by its forests, mountains, and rain. This may account for the fact that the Northwest has many high-quality libraries and bookshops (most notably Powell's Books and the Seattle Central Library) and a "bibliophile soul". [37] The region also has a marginal, but growing independence movement based on bioregionalism and a Cascadian identity. [38] The Cascadian flag has become a popular image at Seattle Sounders FC and Portland Timbers games.[ citation needed ]

Alaska is widely known for its outdoors and its inhabitants engage in a range of activities that are unique to the state. Some of these activities can be experienced through the state's annual events, such as the Iron Dog snowmobile race from Anchorage to Nome and on to Fairbanks. Other events include the World Ice Art Championships (Fairbanks) and the Sitka Whalefest (Sitka).[ citation needed ]

Transportation

Amtrak Coast Starlight-Daylight 1974 postcard.jpg

Coast Starlight is the main interstate passenger railroad route provided by Amtrak. Interstate railroad tracks in the Western United States are provided by Union Pacific Railroad. Interstate travel is also served by roads such as the Interstate 5 freeway and the scenic tourism route, the Pacific Highway (United States). Sierra High Route is a popular trekking route.

See also

Notes

  1. The population total consists of the combined population of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington, according to the 2020 United States census. [2]

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Coordinates: 39°N122°W / 39°N 122°W / 39; -122