East Coast of the United States

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Major cities on the Eastern Seaboard

The East Coast of the United States is the easternmost coast of the United States along the Atlantic Ocean. The states which have shoreline on the East Coast are, from north to south, the U.S. states of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.



The name of the United States East Coast derives from the idea of the United States as having two distinct coastlines, one at its west and one at its east. Other terms to refer to this area by cardinal direction include the term Eastern Seaboard and simply East Coast. The region is also commonly referred to as the Atlantic Coast or Atlantic Seaboard due to the coastline being against the Atlantic Ocean.

Colonial history[edit]

Twelve of the original Thirteen Colonies of the United Kingdom in North America that later become the original states of the United States, each founded between 1607 (Virginia) and 1733 (Georgia), lay along the East Coast.[a] Two additional U.S. states on the East Coast were not among the original Thirteen Colonies: Maine (settled by the French, but later became part of British colony of Massachusetts in 1677)[1] and Florida (which traded hands between the British and Spanish until 1821).[2] The Middle Colonies (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware) had been owned by the Dutch as New Netherland until they were captured by the British in the mid-to-late 17th century.[citation needed]

Physical geography[edit]

The East Coast is a low-relief, passive margin coast.[3] It has been shaped by the Pleistocene glaciation as far south as New York, with offshore islands Nantucket, Block Island, Fishers Island, Long Island and Staten Island the result of terminal moraines.[citation needed] Longshore drift currents have formed an intermittent series of barrier beaches that enclose sounds that stretch from Long Island Sound southward along the unglaciated coast.[4] The coastal plain broadens southwards, separated from the Piedmont districts by the Atlantic Seaboard fall line of the East Coast rivers, often marking the head of navigation, prominent sites of cities.[5]

The seaboard is susceptible to hurricanes in the Atlantic hurricane season, officially running from June 1 to November 30, although hurricanes can occur before or after these dates.[6] Hurricanes Hazel, Hugo, Bob, Isabel, Irene, and most recently Sandy are some of the more significant storms to have affected the region.

Political geography[edit]

The fourteen states which have shoreline on the East Coast are, from north to south, the U.S. states of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.[7] Pennsylvania and Vermont have no Atlantic coastlines, but they are grouped with the Eastern Seaboard states.[8]


In 2010, the population of the states which have shoreline on the East Coast was estimated at 112,642,503 (36% of the country's total population).[9]


The primary Interstate Highway along the East Coast is Interstate 95.[10] I-95 (completed in the late 1970s) replaced the historic U.S. Route 1 (Atlantic Highway),[11][12] which was the original federal highway that traversed all east coast states.[13][14] By water, the east coast is connected from Norfolk, Virginia to Miami, Florida by the Intracoastal Waterway, also known as the East Coast Canal, which was completed in 1912.[15][16] Amtrak's Downeaster and Northeast Regional offer the main passenger rail service on the Seaboard. The Acela Express offers the only high speed rail passenger service in the Americas. Between New York and Boston the Acela Express has up to a 54% share of the combined train and air passenger market.[17][18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Those colonies were New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay,Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina,South Carolina, and Georgia. Pennsylvania is the 13th colony, excluded here because it accesses the coast only via the Delaware River.


  1. ^ 1500-1667: Contact & Conflict, Maine History Online, Maine Historical Society
  2. ^ A Brief History of Florida: From the Stone Age to the Space Age, Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State
  3. ^ Physical Geography, page 575, Robert E. Gabler, James F. Petersen, L. Michael Trapasso, and Dorothy Sack
  4. ^ "Barrier Islands". NOAA. NOAA's National Ocean Service Education. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Bob Freitag; Susan Bolton, Frank Westerlund, Julie Clark (2009). Floodplain Management: A New Approach for a New Era. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. p. 256. ISBN 978-1-59726-635-2. 
  6. ^ Frequently Asked Questions: When is hurricane season, Neil Dorst, Hurricane Research Division, NOAA
  7. ^ General Reference Map, National Atlas of the United States, 2003
  8. ^ "NOAA Chart Locator". National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved Feb 21, 2013. 
  9. ^ 2010 Census: Resident Population Data[dead link]
  10. ^ Let's Go Roadtripping USA: The Student Travel Guide, page 31, Harvard Student Agencies
  11. ^ U.S. 1: Fort Kent, Maine to Key West, Florida, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, updated April 7, 2011
  12. ^ http://www.rogerssportcentermaine.com/custompage.asp?pg=history[unreliable source?]
  13. ^ http://www.northerndoorinn.com/usrt1.html[unreliable source?]
  14. ^ [1][dead link]
  15. ^ Moon Florida Gulf Coast, page 373, Laura Reiley
  16. ^ Ponte Vedra Beach: A History, page 89, Maurice J. Robinson
  17. ^ "Air Travel's Hassles drive riders to AMTRAKs Acela". August 15, 2012.  for Acela express passenger numbers only
  18. ^ "The Information: Most popular airline routes". Financial Times. January 17, 2009. Retrieved February 2, 2010.