Upstate New York generally refers to the region of New York State beyond New York City. There is some debate as to what exact region the term refers to, as described on wikipedia. Rochester can, by some definitions, be considered part of Upstate New York.
Residents of New York State who do not live near NYC may, when asked where they are from, respond "Upstate New York" rather than "New York" to avoid confusion of whether or not they live in New York City.
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2012-09-30 20:34:17 People who live in the Adirondacks are adamant that anything south of them has no right calling itself "Upstate New York." Utica and Syracuse are very much Central New York, thank you very much. Rochester? Ha! —EileenF