After the 2020 census, it was painfully clear that most of Upstate was losing most of its population rapidly. Businesses had left cities, and people had followed. The only stable institutions seemed to be universities, which remained as attractive as ever, but weren't generating new jobs.
One group of residents was growing rapidly, however. Amish communities had started moving into New York in large numbers around 1970, and continued immigration from Pennsylvania combined with their ability to make tired farmland prosper and a high birthrate to create new agricultural communities. They weren't the only farmers in New York, but their numbers grew and grew.
The combination of collegetowns and Amish produced some cultural conflict, but the two groups agreed quickly on food: the Amish produced mostly organic food that fed their neighbors and even a substantial chunk of Downstate.
Amish communities had less demand for social services, reducing the need for government in some parts of New York, and as their numbers grew, the places where they lived were able to reduce their service levels and even their taxes. Roads decayed quietly under the wheels of buggies, and small towns returned to their historic role as centers of agriculture. A few roads and railroads connected the old cores of the Thruway cities with the collegetowns in the countryside, but even they were much quieter, returning to levels of traffic not seen in a century, back in the 1950s.
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