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 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.


The following eight states of the Midwest account for one-fifth of the U.S. population:

States and cities of the Midwest


See also the pages for the states of the Midwest, for smaller but still substantial cities in the region.

Other destinations


The term "Midwest" refers to the states generally west of Appalachia, north of the Ohio River and east of the Great Plains. 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", as much of the population is far from the influences of coastal cities and cultural centers such as New York City and Los Angeles.

States bordering the Great Lakes (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin) are sometimes called the "North Coast", "Third Coast" or "Fresh Coast" as parallels to the East and West coasts. These are the states of the region which make up the rust belt.

Major population centers tend to be located either on the Great Lakes (Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee and Duluth) or on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers (Minneapolis, St. Paul, St. Louis and Cincinnati). This reflects the historical importance of waterways as a method of connecting the region to the ports of New York (via the Erie Canal) and New Orleans (via the rivers). Chicago, originally a marshy area, boomed due to being the easiest method of shipping from the St. Lawrence and Erie Canal to New Orleans. Commerce via the Great Lakes remains a major portion of the region's economy. The major exception to this is Indianapolis, which has unnavigable waterways but is a major intersection for road travel.


English is, as with 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 majority speaking Spanish, but most native speakers of Spanish in the Midwest have at least basic English skills. There is also a substantial German-speaking history which is now mostly confined to rural areas made up of plain Anabaptist communities.

Most of the larger cities have sizeable diverse ethnic communities with many first-generation immigrants. This is particularly true of Chicago, which is known for its large communities of Assyrians, Jews, Poles, and African-American transplanted from the South: dialectical and linguistic diversity vary widely in this city. 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.

Get in

By plane

The Midwest is served by several international airports, including many of the major US airlines' national hubs. Chicago-O'Hare (United and American), Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky (Delta), Detroit (Delta), and Minneapolis -Saint Paul (Delta). Many major metropolitan areas also have secondary international and regional airports, supporting discount airlines.

By car

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:

By train

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:

By bus

By boat

Get around

By plane

Many major metropolitan areas also have secondary international and regional airports, supporting national, discount and commuter airlines.

By car

In addition to the major interstates listed above, many Midwest cities have secondary interstate service such as outerbelt and by-pass systems.

By train

Most of the Midwest lacks regional passenger rail service, but segments of Amtrak routes may suffice. Chicago, however, is a major Amtrak hub.


Great Lakes

River Dancing

Inland History and Culture


Great Lakes

River Valleys

Amusement Parks


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 three 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 known for.

Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin have heavier Scandinavian influences. Large Hispanic, pan-Asian, Middle-eastern and Indian now add spice to this international potpouri.

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.


Stay safe

The rural areas and small cities of the Midwest are among the safest for travelers and residents in all America. Parts of the larger cities—particularly southern Chicago, East Saint Louis, and several regions in Detroit—should be avoided after dark.

Weather in the Midwest ranges from blistering heat waves in July and August, to fierce blizzards in January and February. Tornadoes are common in the southern parts of this region 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. Disastrous weather is rare and the region is not earthquake prone.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 27, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.