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New York City is a glimmering global capital of finance, media and the arts; much of the state with which it shares its name is not. Upstate New York, the fat northern tier of the US’s third-most populous state, feels far from Gotham, culturally and economically. The region is a bleak case study in the failures of modern America – deindustrialisation, underinvestment, sprawl, a poor agriculture sector, a brain drain – which few government policies, including last year’s $862bn (€651bn) stimulus bill, seem equipped to combat.

Few regions in the US…


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