We might have an answer, but first, the reason for the question.

If you travel elsewhere, and are asked where you’re from, it can become contentious. Years ago, I was skiing in Colorado, and I ended up on a chairlift with a guy who called me out on where I said I was from.

I was the first to reveal my hometown in the conversation, and coincidentally, he happened to be from Albany. He pointed out that I had things all wrong. He said I was NOT from "upstate," and proclaimed me to be a down-stater. I thought he was going to throw me off the chairlift.

My friend, Marianne, from Yonkers considered herself to be from upstate. She is a Long Island transplant, and thought this until she first met her future husband online from Greene County. He straightened her out as to the fact that Yonkers is way too close to the city to be upstate.

Follow me here, and correct me if I’m wrong -- Long Islanders generally see anything past the Bronx as upstate. New York City peeps regard anything North of Westchester as upstate, and people in Albany think anything south is downstate. My friends in Rochester think they’re upstate, but they're not. They are supposed to be called Western New York. Actually, I could go on all day here with people’s perceptions, and we'd all go nuts!

The legit answer is laid out here by the New York Times, according to lawmakers in Albany:

Upstate New York is based on what lies outside the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s commuter rail area. Besides New York City and Long Island, it excludes Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam and Dutchess Counties.

Whew! So glad they put it out there for us, but the argument will never really be settled.