You say that the geography of where you live in town tells so much about who you are: Are you rich or poor, artsy or sporty, are you there for schools or for the new urban measure of “walkability?”
Those of you from the biggest cities of DC, NY, Boston, Chicago, SF, LA, and Houston often said the more granular the answer, the better. One of you from Boston writes:
For instance, in Cambridge and Somerville, people will often give where the live by their nearest square or subway station: Davis, Porter, Harvard, Central, Kendall, Union, Ball, etc.
From Chicago: Identity is defined in layers. First, whether you’re from the north or south side: the great, indelible divide. Secondly, what neighborhood you live in. There are so many gradations– “near north side”, “far south side”, “south loop” — but the orientation is always north or south.
“Where did you go to high school?” All these places weighed in: Louisville, New Orleans, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and the island of Oahu.
From New Orleans: In New Orleans, the most common orientation question on meeting someone is probably “Where’d you go to school?” That means high school (for everyone… no doctor would think you were asking about med school). This nails down neighborhood and also social class to some extent since the answer could be a public, private or parochial (Catholic) school.
From Baltimore: Baltimoreans always ask “Where did you go to school?” and it ALWAYS means, “Where did you go to high school?” Baltimore is a working class town, and college was not an aspiration for folks; your identity, character, life’s trajectory was defined in toto by the place you went to high school.
“Where do you go to church?” These from Greenville SC, from rural Idaho, and VA, and I’ve seen it reported elsewhere from rural Maine and Kentucky. Interestingly, Chicago also makes this list. And in Chicago, you look for very thinly-sliced answers to the question “What’s your parish?”
Two Chicagoans writes that “parish” is the word to use, and everyone, even non-Catholics get this social parlance:
“What neighborhood are you from?” which came out as “What’s your parish?” Even the Chicagoans who were not Catholic usually knew the answer, and the answer served as a social marker for everything from your baseball team to your likely politics, to your geographical desirability as a candidate for a movie on Friday night at a school where so many students – in those days – were commuters.
And another echoes: “What parish did you grow up in?” Even non Catholics will answer St. Mathias, but we weren’t Catholic.