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East Coast vs West Coast: A History of Rivalry and Cultural Differences

East Coast vs West Coast: A History of Rivalry and Cultural Differences

A brief history of the West Coast vs East Coast: How it started, the rivalry, and cultural differences between the two coasts.

Palig Dzadourian


4 min read

September 21, 2022

There are many cultural differences among all the different states in America. However there has been one long-standing rivalry between the two opposite ends of the continent, and that is the East Coast vs West Coast. The origin of this rivalry can be traced back to 1991 when frustrated rapper Tim Dog released a song dissing the West Coast. This was due to the rejection of many East Coast artists in favor of West Coast artists of the time. Just how different are these coasts from each other?

Overview of the history of East and West Coast

The start of this regional feud is closely interwoven with the history of hip-hop and how it came to be. It is fascinating to look back and see the effects of a seemingly small event that created a butterfly effect that transformed into something on a much larger scale.

The East Coast Influences

The history of the East Coast shows significant European influences, mainly seen in the coast’s architectural styles. This side of the coast is where a lot of Europeans first landed and began building their colonies, leaving their mark on the East Coast cities' architecture. Almost anywhere you turn, you will find a structure of historical significance, some of these sites include the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, the old town of Williamsburg, Virginia and so many more.

The West Coast influences 

When talking about the history of the West Coast, the Wild West is what we associate it with. A diverse and exuberant past is exactly what one might expect of the West Coast. This is where some major historical events took place, starting with the American frontier period, the Oregon Trail hardships, and the chaos surrounding the Gold Rush towns. The progressive spirit of the West Coast is what helped the nation move forward and shed its more traditional roots. An inclusive spirit, a love of diversity and cultures with a respect for nature, and a rather calm lifestyle are all values associated with the West Coast lifestyle.

The Hip-Hop rivalry

With the birth of hip-hop came to the competition and rivalry between the two regions.

While the East Coast vs West Coast feud very vaguely existed before the hip-hop rivalry began, all the differences were still there. It comes as no surprise that two regions located polar opposite of each other would have great contrasts.

Central to the narrative of these events are the historic rivalries between iconic artists, most notably the East Coast's Notorious B.I.G, associated with New York's Boy Records, and the West Coast's Tupac Shakur, linked with LA's Death Row Records. This intense competition, emblematic of the broader East Coast-West Coast hip-hop rivalry, tragically culminated in the untimely deaths of both artists. The legacy of this feud has persisted, with numerous artists from both coasts contributing to the ongoing dynamic of competition, keeping the spirited rivalry alive within the hip-hop community.

Cultural Differences and Influences

Broadway shows and theater performances in New York are essential parts of the East Coast.

As mentioned above, the distinct origins of these two coasts would result in a clash of cultures between them. For example, while New York is a very good contender for high-quality TV production and filmmaking, Hollywood is where the true magic happens. The West Coast is known to be home to the world’s most famous actors and celebrities. The West Coast cities, especially Los Angeles, are essentially movie sets. Anywhere you turn in the city, you are guaranteed to find a lot of places that have been televised or broadcasted.

The East Coast is more known for its theatrical performances, such as the Broadway shows in New York. There are also several ballet troupes and orchestras based in the city. New York is also the city that hosted the very first Fashion Week in the world, and it continues to do so. 

Fashion differences

New York is where you will see fashion at its best, especially out on the streets.

Given the different climates in these coastal cities, it is expected to find different fashion trends in each one. The West Coast is where people tend to go towards more relaxed and beachy clothing. Especially in California, where the lifestyle is more laid-back, and the weather is warmer year-round, the fashion style of Californians is mainly focused on lightweight outfits.

The East Coast is where practicality takes the forefront of everyone’s fashion choices. The fashion style in New York is sleek and more polished, exuding a sense of classiness. Walking around New York, the streets are filled with formally dressed people, some argue that it looks like a fashion runway. In the East Coast vs West Coast discussion, the distinction is very clear. Some East Coasters may consider the casual outfits of West Coasters to be informal and too laid-back for their daily lives. This leads us to the reason behind these different fashion choices, namely the distinct lifestyle of the two. 

Lifestyle differences

Enjoy the laid-back lifestyle of the West Coast.

Several elements affect the lifestyle of a certain city. Things like the weather, the culture, the history, and the general archetypes of people that live in said city or region. That is why we see such a clear divide in the way of life between the East Coast and the West Coast. They each have different cultures and ways of life.

The East Coast is a fast-paced place that is career and goal driven. A day spent on the East Coast will show you just how fast of a lifestyle they have in this part of the country. People will be hurrying to catch the subway, scurrying from place to place, and never staying put. It can get overwhelming if you are not used to the hustle and bustle of the East Coast cities, but it is quite exciting once you are accustomed.

The West Coast is where things get a little less intense especially if you are looking for a more relaxed lifestyle. The people that live in states like California are usually more focused on health and nature. This is why you will see a lot of people spending time going out to parks and hiking. On the West Coast, people are always searching for a perfect spot to have a good time in nature. The zen atmosphere of West Coast cities is incredibly easy to get used to. It is rare to find someone struggling to adjust to such a lifestyle. It is also important to note that the states on the West Coast are more expensive to live in. For example, California’s cost of living is higher than the average living costs of most states on the East Coast.

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