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Why the West Coast of USA is almost empty!

Yes you read that right, a part of the West Coast is not exactly the metropolis you may think, but why?

By Issac HuangPublished 3 months ago 3 min read

The West Coast of the United States, known for its affluence and thriving cities, holds a hidden secret within its expansive borders – an almost deserted and mysterious region that defies the conventional narrative of prosperity. Strangely enough, whispers of secession have emerged from this sparsely populated area, as it contemplates forging its own distinct identity. In this exploration, we delve into the historical and geographical complexities that have shaped this enigmatic part of the West Coast.

The United States, with its staggering population of approximately 333 million people, boasts unique dynamics when it comes to population density. As we gaze upon the vast, scarcely inhabited region in southern Oregon and northern California, it becomes clear that it stands in stark contrast to the bustling metropolises of Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco. This vacant space raises questions about the historical migrations that fueled West Coast growth while bypassing this particular stretch. To gain a comprehensive understanding, we must examine population statistics across the entire country before zooming in on the factors contributing to the emptiness of this West Coast region.

Despite around 40% of the U.S. population calling the coast their home, the coastal counties of northern California and southern Oregon have not experienced a corresponding boom. Unlike their coastal counterparts, which contribute over $9.5 trillion to the U.S. economy, this region remains noticeably excluded from the narrative of coastal prosperity. When we explore the 2020 census data, we discover that this area, encompassing approximately 484,727 people across 21,349.76 square miles, struggles with low population density, presenting a unique challenge on the road to potential statehood.

Emerging as the largest city in this sparsely populated expanse, Eugene, Oregon, serves as a testament to the dearth of urban centers. Surprisingly, cities like Bend, despite their small size, are among the fastest-growing in the entire country. These cities attract countless outdoor enthusiasts seeking respite from densely packed areas. Bend, with its claim to fame as the last bastion of Blockbuster, adds a touch of eccentricity to the region's character.

Delving into broader national trends derived from census data between 2010 and 2020 uncovers the reasons behind the West Coast's empty quarter. The distribution of sparse populations, particularly in northern California and southern Oregon, emerges as a prominent observation. The landscape is sprinkled with vast, uninhabited expanses, prompting an exploration of the factors that impede settlement. It is surprising to discover that seemingly deserted areas still house residents, highlighting the thoroughness of the Census Bureau in capturing even the most sparsely populated regions.

A stark contrast unfolds when we compare population densities and demographics between populous states like California and Oregon and the scarcely inhabited territories in question. Factors such as geography, accessibility, infrastructure, and identity converge to create this demographic anomaly.

Geographically, the region grapples with protected lands, imposing mountain ranges like the Sierra Nevada and Cascades, and challenging coastal conditions. Establishing large settlements becomes a regulatory hurdle, fostering vibrant ecosystems but hindering urban development. The presence of natural wonders like Mount Shasta and Crater Lake attracts outdoor enthusiasts but poses challenges for robust city growth.

Historically, navigability served as a vital catalyst for West Coast development, with the Oregon Trail and the allure of gold shaping settlement patterns. The absence of a compelling driving force and difficult access hindered the growth of northern California and southern Oregon, standing in stark contrast to more accessible regions.

Struggles with infrastructure, exacerbated by historical factors, contribute to the region's slow development. While lush forests and the fertile lands of the Rogue Valley may seem abundant, they prove insufficient for sustaining large metropolises. Without comprehensive transportation networks, the region faces significant obstacles in attracting substantial populations.

Identity emerges as a powerful force shaping the region's destiny. The proud heritage and distinct way of life in northern California and southern Oregon create a captivating cultural landscape. Tensions between rural communities and distant urban capitals, often perceived as out of touch, fuel discussions of secession – as seen in the region's historical proposals for the State of Jefferson. These movements, originating in the 19th century, reflect a deep-rooted desire for autonomy and representation. However, despite gaining traction over the years, the region's focus on preserving its rural identity and independence clashes with the broader interests of California and Oregon.

In conclusion, the empty quarter of the West Coast stands as a testament to the intricate interplay of geography, history, and identity. This sparsely populated region carries a rich tapestry of cultural heritage and a unique way of life. As debates over statehood persist, the empty quarter remains a captivating enigma, challenging preconceived notions about growth and prosperity within the vast expanse of the United States.


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