Megacities Archives

July 28, 2005


megalopolis.jpgIs the city obsolete?

In the sense of being the locus of work, life and culture, obviously not. But when it comes to economics, transportation and planning, thinking purely in terms of urban centers and peripheries is often too limiting. Even state or nation level has limits, as financial and vehicular flows very often cross the quaint borders assigned decades or centuries ago. As a result, a growing number of urban analysts are starting to look at a new level: the megalopolis.

The term megalopolis was coined in 1961 by Jean Gottmann, referring to massive agglomerations of population centers across a region; for people in the United States, perhaps the most visible is the "Bowash" corridor stretching from Boston, through New York, and down to Washington, DC. A megalopolis covers multiple metropolitan and "micropolitan" areas, yet has a distinct economic and historical identity. As the Bowash example shows, megalopolises (the awkward plural) need not be within the borders of a single political entity; indeed, urban planners in the European Union are starting to look at cross-national megalopolises in their strategies.

In the United States, Virginia Tech urban studies professor Robert Lang argues (PDF) that there are 10 megalopolises (or, as he refers to them, "megapolitan areas"), with a total population of well over 200 million people -- two-thirds of the US population. Six are east of the continental divide, four are west, and they comprise both familiar regional agglomerations (e.g., "Cascadia," stretching from Portland, Oregon through to Seattle, Washington; "Northeast," something of an expansion of the "Bowash" corridor) and relatively new ones ("1-35 Corridor," from San Antonio and Dallas, Texas to Kansas City, Missouri; "Peninsula," encompassing Tampa through Miami, Florida).

According to Lang:

Continue reading "Transmegapolitan" »

October 19, 2005

CommonCensus and the Megalopolis

commoncensus.jpgThe CommonCensus Map Project asks a simple question: which city in your general region do you most identify with, culturally? From that question -- answered by over 16,000 people, and counting -- CommonCensus is building a cultural footprint map of the United States. The results are both fascinating and not terribly surprising: culture has much more to do with major cities than with political boundaries. Cities like Boise, Idaho, Denver, Colorado, and Minneapolis, Minnesota dominate cultural lives well outside of their home states; regions with multiple big cities in close proximity, such as along the northern east coast of the US, find that their footprints are much smaller, even if the populations are far larger.

I have two major observations about the resulting map. The first is that, for the most part, the "cultural influence" regions more-or-less map to television coverage. That is to say, the sizes of the cultural regions are roughly equivalent to the area likely to receive the television stations of the "core" city. The second is that there's an interesting parallel here to the "megapolitan" areas demographers and sociologists have identified in the US.

Continue reading "CommonCensus and the Megalopolis" »

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to WC Archive in the Megacities category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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