A center of city is downton, and a residential area is uptown.
Why? Does "down-" (or "up-") historically refer to relative elevations or heights of the areas?
I think that Robert's explanation is just about as good as any. I don't know of any logic behind the distinction and as far as I'm aware it varies from city to city. These words are only used in US and Canadian English. I glad we don't use them in Aussie. If there are any Canadians or Americans who can shed some light onto this situation please do.
In America I asked a bus driver "Does this bus go to the city centre?"
He just stared at me blankly.
So then I said "Umm, do you go... 'downtown'?"
He then said "why yes, hop aboard". or something like that.
By the way, uptown is new to me. I don't think I've heard that before. It must be something completely american!
I don't think you hear 'uptown' anywhere much except in reference to New York City, and in that case 'up' refers to higher street numbers. (Correct me if I'm wrong).
I had never heard "uptown" used (except in New York) until I moved to a small town. The people there only said uptown, never downtown. They were referring to what I thought of as downtown. It must be something that varies from place to place.
the lower part, the business area, the main business area of a city or town
the upper residential area of a city especially that removed from the main business section
We don't have those sections in Europe.
Petula Clark invented Downtown. She may have been on drugs.
city centre - downtown
town centre - downtown
In California, the word "uptown" is never used except when referring to New York City. Also, some smaller towns in California refer to their commercial district as the "town centre" (or "town center", as the phrase would most likely be spelt in California).
i hear downtown used whenever somebody refers to any sort of american city, NOT just new york.
uptown isn't necessarily a reference to an actual location...ever heard "uptown girl" by billy joel? it just refers to the nice side of town, the right side of the tracks, etc.
downtown, midtown, and uptown have a different meaning in nyc then they have elsewhere in the states because manhattan is an island and these terms actually refer to the part of the island you're on.
It's all very confusing but don't forget the USA isn't the only country which uses these terms. In Canada you have Downtown and maybe Uptown. For example in Vancouver there's a Downtown but no Uptown.
I've got a guess.
Maybe the original idea was about town on a river. In general the residential area has to be upstream (to minimize pollution and staff) while the bussiness district may be placed downstream.
Does it make sense? :)
The castle was on a hill. People lived close to the castle for protection. Traders sold their wares at the foot of the hill. People would go down the hill to shop. When you say going downtown, you mean that big place where you can spend your money.