Working around a large state, I keep an eye, an ear and my heart open to the differences of a congregation and wherever in the state it gathers for worship and lives out the gospel through its ministry and mission. Certainly, New York has its unique ways of understanding itself: upstate vs. the City, Hudson Valley defining additionally as "upper", "lower" and "mid", western New York's more Midwestern feel vs. the more "New England" feel of the eastern side (especially in the Capital District and Adirondacks).
At a book reading a few days ago at the State Library in Albany, Dearstyne joked that New York tends to be more low-key or overly modest about its contributions. Many may argue that, given the pluck and vigor associated with New York City in the media and popular culture, but then again, that's also one of the challenges New York history faces: sorting out the State from the City in discerning how to tell of the contributions of a very large and divergent terrain of urban and rural, small town and borough, remote and overpopulated places.
Three years thus far with New York license plates, I find Dearstyne's book a helpful touchstone. I recommend it to clergy who are newer to the State and feeling likewise a bit puzzled how their part of New York State fits into the rest. I should also recommend Kathleen Norris' Dakota, as she reminds us that wherever we are, the challenge of unfamiliar territory may lead you to learn that the place where you find the ground beneath your feet is indeed the place for which you've been yearning. Further, in plumbing its history with the eyes of the outsider looking in, even the remotest of places can be laden with a history far more textured than you would first guess.