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On a clear day, you can see all the world from York Minster. All the world that's worth seeing, any road.

Divided like Gaul into three parts, but then you knew already that Riding derives from an older Scandinavian form of 'third', didn't you. The fact that there are five entries in the list below is a result of attempts (not always unsuccessful) to interfere with the natural order of things.

North Riding
This is the Yorkshire I know least, the wildest and emptiest of the Ridings. Dracula landed at Whitby, remember. There are ruins and reminders here, like Fountains Abbey and the light railway from Pateley Bridge, evidence of a time when London was too far away to be worth thinking about. As, indeed, it still is.
South Riding
Purely fictional, the creation of Winifred Holtby. I've only read the book once, remember almost nothing about it, and all the Web searches lead to Hull.
South Yorkshire
A happy accident, grouping Sheffield, Barnsley and Rotherham into a moderately cohesive and highly cantankerous new county. Soon dubbed People's Republic, it was worn down by a war of attrition with central government, self-satisfied Thatcherite poodles moved to yapping indignation by the thought of public money being spent on the public good.
West Riding
The one I never knew, as by the time I reached the north – born in Wiltshire in 1955, first saw the light of day in South Yorkshire, 1978 – this Riding had ceased to be. Solid, prosperous (or at least formerly prosperous) towns and cities like Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield. A memorial in the cathedral of this last intriguingly refers to George III as 'not only subject to fits, but much disliked in Wakefield.'
West Yorkshire
See above, indeed, but for the truest picture you have to turn to fiction. Armstrong for what it must have been like in the past, Plater for how it was until recently: read the three Beiderbeck books for an affectionate but not sentimental picture of Leeds. And then Reginald Hill for the non-existent but keenly-observed Mid-Yorkshire.