Thursday, February 24, 2011

On Empires

Some of you may recall that most of my online interactions used to be under the pseudonym "Ontario Emperor." I selected this online name in about 1998, using the following rationale:

The Inland Empire needs an emperor. The "Inland Emperors" are a band signed to a Seattle label. Hence, I am the Ontario Emperor.

Just think - if I hadn't found that band via a web search all those years ago, I might have proclaimed myself as THE Inland Emperor - the name, of course, taken from the regional name "Inland Empire."

But AliAgins questions whether "the Inland Empire" is truly a single entity:

Riverside is and always has been totally different from San Bernardino. We have never co-mingled much unless Riversiders would go to the Orange show. Riverside is Riverside. Folks in Corona where I live don’t bother to go there very often unless they get a summons from the courthouse to do jury duty. Chino, Ontario,Montclair? They are what they are and I can’t remember the last time I was over that way. And then at the Southern end is Temecula and Murrietta and one goes through there on the 15 to go to San Diego. I’ve been to San Diego more times in oh let’s say five years than I’ve been to San Bernardino in ten. And then there is Palm Springs at the Eastern edge. So completely different from Riverside or San Bernardino or maybe anywhere.

While I'll grant the exception for Palm Springs, I submit that there is more similarity between Temecula and Fontana than there are differences - especially when compared to cities such as Fullerton, Pasadena, and Hawthorne.

The first distinction that I claim for the Inland Empire is that it feels less crowded than places to the west and southwest. You find far fewer fourth floors in Inland Empire buildings than you do elsewhere.

The second distinction is that it is clearly considered well outside of Los Angeles, especially by media outlets. When a radio station announces that it is designed to serve Los Angeles and Orange Counties, the immediate message is that I should tune out and the folks from Lancaster should tune in. And the perception of "the 909" (so, um, "tagged" before the 951 area code split) in local and national media is undeniable.

The third distinction is geographical - and here I again exclude Palm Springs. With mountain ranges on the north, east, and southwest, there is a clear boundary that separates Corona from, say, Yorba Linda. Now some could argue that the Jurupa Hills serve to divide San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, and there is a clear division further east between Moreno Valley and Redlands, but I submit that hills are hills and mountains are mountains. When was the last time that Caltrans closed Sierra Avenue between Fontana and Rubidoux due to snow?

So I'll argue that the Inland Empire is one.

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