Uptown Girl Looking for Her Dr. Bennett

noun_project_96_512x512x32Where do rich people live in Los Angeles? If you ask that question to an Angelino (a resident of Los Angeles), you will get many different answers, but one answer you will not get is “South Los Angeles.” Everyone who lives here knows that South L.A. is a dangerous place where you are unlikely to find the wealthy (people who are rich).

Now ask someone from Chicago this same question. Again, you’ll get a variety of (different; various) answers, but few people will say “the South Side.” The South Side of Chicago is, as Jim Croce sang many years ago, the “baddest (worst; most dangerous) part of town.” In fact, you will get similar answers if you ask people that question in Minneapolis, Boston, and many other major (large; important) U.S. cities:. The common perception (opinion; view) is that poor people live in the southern parts of the city.

There is even scientific research to back up (to support) this idea that people generally think that the southern part of any city is the worst part to live in. In one study, researchers gave people a fictitious (made-up; invented; not real) map of a city. Then they asked them to identify the part of the city where they thought someone named “Dr. Bennett” might live. More than 70% of the people said in the northern part of the city. Almost no one chose the southernmost (most to the south) part of the city (10%).

I’m not saying that in all cases it is actually true that poor people live in the southern part of an American city. But that is the common opinion of many Americans.

Why do we think north is rich and south is poor? Some geographers (people who study the physical characteristics of the Earth) and psychologists have speculated (guessed) that it is because our culture associates “up” with good and “down” with bad.

When you’re feeling “up,” you’re happy. If you’re “down,” you’re sad. Christians believe Heaven is somewhere above us, “up there,” and Hell is “down” below. An “Uptown Girl” is, in Billy Joel’s song, a rich girl from the wealthy (that is, northern) part of the city.

“Up” on a map is, of course, the top of the map, which since the discovery of the north magnetic pole and the compass has been used to represent the northern part of whatever the map shows. We put the southern part on the bottom of the map. North is up and happy; south is down and sad.

Do the rich people in your city live in the northern part or the southern part? Is there a similar perception of “north = rich, south = poor” where you live?


Image credit: “Compass” from The Noun Project

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25 Responses to Uptown Girl Looking for Her Dr. Bennett

  1. emiliano says:

    YES, absolutely dear Jeff.
    Even more, north in a country it is the rich part, in Spain, Greek or France (not the blue cost of course) that happens just the same.
    North are richest than South by all means.

    If you see Europe´s map richest countries are on the North, C.E.E. it is so, and now north CEE countries said they are fed up with south countries like Spain, Italy, Greek or

    Here, in Madrid it is just the same now, North-West are the more expensive zones of the city, together with the East-Retiro Park and Salamanca-Castellana zone.
    North it is now also very, very expensive, but it wasn´t when I was a Young boy.

    In fact my parent´s house was at the North of Madrid, yes Just the North, but for that years it wasn´t an expersive zone of Madrid

    Other cities of Spain, I don´t know.


  2. Fabão says:

    Here in Brazil, this view is quite the contrary, in the southern region of the country live social classes more structured, while in the north and northeast, the people are extremely poor, and much of the population lives on “allowance” of government, besides being constantly battered by drought and neglect of the federal government.

  3. Dan says:

    Hello everyone.

    Yes Jeff, there is that perception here. That’s Italy.

    I would not say: North rich South poor, better saying North more economically developed with its industries and infrastructure.

    After WWII, millions of Italians moved from the south part of the country to the northern. Where I am still living and working today.

    I myself am a son of those emigrants. My parents came here for the beautiful Island called Sardinia.

    I am talking of the entire country ’cause my town is so tiny there is no south or west here.

    I am not writing more ’cause I am having a brain freeze.

    Thank you

  4. Peter says:

    Shrewd observation , I must say
    Well , my good man Jeff , here in Toronto is the exact opposite the southernmost part of Toronto is concentrated with rich people who can afford to pay 1 milion up for 400-500 square feet apt, let alone houses or penthouses. As you go towards North ,the pricing of the condo units and houses shrinking significantly.
    You can buy a spacious house for 4 or 5 bedrooms and one den for the price of , say , 600000
    The same size house in the south of the city deals for at least 2milion dollars and more.
    In the southern and western part of the city all the neighborhoods look classy and pricy .
    but as you move towards the East part of the city the fabric of the city changes drastically and in some part it turning into slums. i m telling you , if you move East enough , say , East end of the city you may stumble upon some shanty neighborhoods.

    Well , to me , It has nothing to do with psychological point of view or stereotypical profiling, but it is all attributed to which part of the city , the city tends to take care of best.
    I suspect that it has something to do with taxation. I hear they are directly related. The higher tax they pay , the sleeker neighborhood they get.

    But , I do agree with the post that in most cities, is the northern part that homes affluent people. It is typically the part that the city that the city and by that I mean the municipality take cares most

    I live in the southern part of the city in a rooming house with shared accommodation. I m paying 600 per month for one tiny furnished room.
    Well , i do believe the famous realtors’ slogan that is ” location , location , location.”

    I pay for the neighborhood not the place as the rooming house is located in a prime neighborhood that the market price of a 1100 square feet house is well over 1 million dollrs

    I m telling you , no sign of trickle-down effect here in Toronto.At least , Not that I know of.


  5. Luiz Alberto Del Antonio says:

    Hello everyone! It’s my first time here.
    So… I agree a little bit with this perception.
    But this perception can turn below equator line.
    I live in Brazil and as Fabão said, here is totally unlike.
    I already read that one of the reasons about the rise the people is the cold weather. Because it, historically, people learned to save food in those days… and, nowadays, they know to save money.

  6. Wang says:

    I’m not certain about that…on the nationwide scale, I believe that I’m living in the most developed city which is in the south

    But it seems like my local government is striving to build up a better part up there, somewhere around the northern area

    right now? the upper class they are, one is living in downtown and another is living in the eastern part of the city

    and also, here we usually say “go down the south” because in our mind set, the south is the most prosperity land of the nation

    rarely, there is few people want to leave my town to go up to the north even though it’s our capital. Except those who had immigrated here from there

    when they are getting old, feel loneliness, they’d rather to be back where they were born. And most of the people up there, once they notice you are

    from the south as walking into their shops (by our accents, I’m pretty sure about this), heh, you better don’t buy any thing, they will jack up the prices and get you ripped off.

    Of course, there are also many people up there are living in their high end houses, in which the southern ones, on average, don’t dare to think of

    Best regard!


  7. emiliano says:

    Yes Dan, that´s right, more or less here it is the same.


  8. The Messiah says:

    Very interesting text.. Completely agree with Fabão, about the situation here in Brazil.

  9. emiliano says:

    For years was the North of Spain the land where the dictator Franco developed, why?. Ask him, but he is dead already, so I think it is
    difficult to have an answer.

    Cataluña and Vascongadas where the lands where nearly everything was made respect what it was industrialization of the country.
    The south, Andalucia – Extremadura and some other land received nearly nothing, so people who were living this lands of the south
    have to go up in the map.
    They have to go to Barcelona, Bilbao and some other cities of the North. So, in Cataluña there were thousands and thousands of
    Andalusian because they could work in the industry textil and others.
    In Vascongadas was developed all Industry about iron, coal, and so forth.

    It could be the dictator wanted to have the people of these lands some how in good industrial situation, but I think he failed as now
    Catalanes and Vascos wanted to be independent of the rest of Spain.

    Bravo for the dictator, he made such incredible things, with a hand established all the industry in the North but with the other hand
    he forbid the language of Catalonia and Vasc countries, so he made everything such in a bad form.

    No body was content about this, Not in Catalonia (about the language) and not in Vasc countries for same reason.

    The south without industry and all people who wanted to work have to go up in the map, but also thousands of Spaniards have to
    go to Germany, France, Belgium, Swisland and so forth.

    Just incredible.

    North has been the rich countries here in Europe, in Spain, and as Dan said in Italy too.
    Milan could be the richest city in Italy, more or less like Barcelona or Bilbao.

    Well, after some time Madrid now has more companies and developed fields tan Catalonia, it is real, sorry about the Catalonian
    people but so much interest in speaking other different language than Castellano is making them some hurt.

    Such is life.


  10. emiliano says:

    In Madrid something extrange happened, people who came from the North established in the North of the city, my parents for instance, they came from
    Burgos that is at the North and they were to the North of the City.
    People who came from the South established in the South of the City. The south was poor, so people from the south of the city were poor too. But it
    not means that one side of the city were safer than the other. No, it was the same, pólice controls everything having dictator in Spain for years.

    The North and the South of the City were nice places to live, safe and with people that only think in working and having their families go on.

    It is true that when Americans came to Madrid, with President Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower, they established on the North of the City, in fact close
    near home, my parents home.
    Ike visited Spain in the year 1959 and the dictator embrace him in the middle of Castellana Street. I saw them perfectly well and could remember the

    Just an incredible moment when Ike came to Spain and Torrejón, Rota, Zaragoza militar bases were on the Spanish soil.

    Cold war between USA and Russia made miracles, ja, ja, and the dictator was anti-comunists by all means so the USA militar army came close
    near Madrid and every body was happy.

    At least we could eat.

    My best dear Jeff, so interesting topic to talk about.


  11. Hob Marx says:

    Not in Xi’an China ,I’m afraid where south is full of colleges and universities (about 30 or more),and north is full of small factories.

  12. Parviz says:

    Hi every body
    Sorry I am late. There is a big distance between where I live and where I work. I live in Northern part of the city and work in the southern part of the city.
    I didn’t think of it very much when I decided a place to live in a few months ago and I ended up living in north.
    Dear Jeff what you meticulously described is not working here where I live. Of course, there are two districts where wealthy live, but they are not in the south nor north. They are in the east and southeastern of the city.
    These two areas are well-known for being affluent.
    I live somewhere between these areas.
    Although, there is no north-associated wealthy people or south-associated poor people where I live, people tend to use expression connected to north and south to describe someone who is rich or poor. when
    talk to people you are likely here something like uptown boy or girl, when they actually mean rich boy or rich girl.

  13. Mr.ink says:

    in my town it is completely opposite!

  14. Tania says:

    Hi! I think we have the perception of ” West” and “East”.
    Someone told me even London is divided in “West” side with wealthy and “East” side with the poor.

    All the best to you all,


  15. Tania says:

    Hi! I have a secret…
    I have a “one dime” coin, one tenth of a United States dollar.
    With a long history since 1796, “one dime” has been issued in six different types.
    I have the Roosevelt dime introduced in 1946 with the design on its reverse olive branch, torch and oak branch
    symbolizing liberty, peace and victory.
    I have read on Wikipedia.

  16. Dan says:

    Hi Tania,

    That’s no longer a secret..:-) Look out I am coming and getting it! 🙂

    I checked on eBay, it is worth roughly 2 bucks.

    Did you know that here in Italy there are around roughly 90 pieces of two cents, from the introduction of the Euro,that recently one piece sold for 6.000,00.

    That because it has one side that it’s wrong. One side has the “Mole Antonelliana” which is a building in the city of Torino in the NorthWest part of Italy.
    On the other side, instead of 2 cents there is 1 cent. The “Mole Antonelliana” is only on the 2 cents. Look out for the 2 cents from Italy.

    Thank you

  17. Lassana says:

    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks for this topic which reflect our perception about poor and rich areas.

    Fortunately there in France we have not this perception. For example in Marseille city, the neighbourhoods where poor people live are located in North of Marseille.

    See you soon


  18. Tania says:

    Hi! We have not introduced the Euro yet, but the most important transactions are in Euro.
    But I do not know the little coins of the Euro.

    Best wishes, Dan.

  19. Tania says:

    Hi! I like this topic with nursery rhymes, counting-out games. And when they are an inspiration source in popular culture like “Three Blind Mice”… we like to know.

    “Three blind mice. Three blind mice.
    See how they run. See how they run.
    They all ran after the farmer’s wife,
    Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
    Did you ever see such a sight in your life? ”

    In my opinion, silly, silly rhymes but frightful. Even for Agatha Christie it was a inspiration source for a short story of the same name. I have read on Wikipedia.

  20. Tania says:

    Hi! “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe” is more peaceful.

    “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,
    Catch a tiger by the toe.
    If he hollers, let him go,
    Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.
    My mother told me
    to pick the very best one,
    And you are not it!

  21. Tania says:

    Hi! We have many nursery rhymes and counting-out games but more childish.
    Something like that:

    From the Pacific Ocean
    A little fish came out
    And on his tail it was written
    You are out.

  22. Val says:

    No, we don’t have such segregation. There are poor and rich people in every part of the city. Of course we have neighborhoods where people prefer to not buy apartments. It’s considered that these areas are quite dangerous. But they can be in every part of the city.
    Nowadays in our city people prefer to buy apartments in new blocks. Poor people can’t afford it, so these buyers can be sure that they will have quite decent neighbors.

  23. Ben says:

    It doesn’t come up in KaiFeng China.
    We have the perception of “West” and “East”——West means Wealthy and East means Poor.
    However,I guess the ancient KaiFeng may be quite the same as Jeff says.Well,When the Emperor of the ancient China hold the essential ceremony which told the public officially that he was the real host of this country,he should sit on his dragon chair facing to the south.And so,the palace probably situated in the north of the capital city.
    And of course, the wealthy tended to live in the north of the city.
    And KaiFeng used to be the capital city of the ancient China during Song Dynasty.That is why I guess the same thing had happened in Kaifeng.
    But now,things changed.As the government and industry move the west of this city,more and more wealthy folks choose to live in the west part.
    So if you come to this city now, you’ll find loads of high-rise buildings in the west which I am actully not really into.

  24. Tania says:

    Hi! I always am astonished by the biography of such great people like Jane Addams being and woman living in (1860 – 1935).
    How active a woman can be! In 1931 she became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
    The founder of the following:
    – Hull House in Chicago;
    – Jane Addams School for Democracy;
    – Jane Addams Business Careers Center;
    – Jane Addams Children’s Book Award.

    And her philosophy:
    everyone is a teacher and everyone is a leader, all cultures should be honored, adults and children learn together,
    changes occur when people work together.

    Nice lesson of life, dear Jeff.
    Thank you.

  25. Tania says:

    Hi! May I write some Jane Addams Quotes?

    “Civilization is a method of living, an attitude of equal respect for all people.”

    “National events determine our ideals, as much as our ideals determine national events.”

    “The child becomes largely what he is taught; hence we must watch what we teach, and how we live.”

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