22 April 2013

Metropolis



Definition:
A centralized city, expressing concentrated political power, and adequately supported by local revenues based on an industrial or colonial economy, receiving resources and migrants from a vast hinterland or sphere of influence.  Metropolises were sometimes connected in linear arrays, such as that recognized in the Northeastern United states by Jean Gottman in 1961 as a megalopolis.

Examples:
London was the metropolis not only of the United Kingdom, but also of the British Empire.  New York is a metropolis based on finance and formerly on industry.  Baltimore as a metropolis was an industrial powerhouse in the first half of the 20th century. 


Why Important:
The metropolis was the leading form of urbanization throughout the industrial and global imperial eras.  Although the term is sometimes still used to represent spatially broad urban regions, consisting of cities, suburbs, and exurbs, most metropolises have been altered in form since their heyday (Fig. 1). 




Figure 1. Metropolitan areas of the United States in 1950.  These dense urban areas lacked sprawling suburbs, and were highly centralized areas, mostly driven by industrial economies.  Connections between metropolitan areas was primarily by rail, and the intervening regions were agricultural, range, or wild lands.




Spatial diffusion resulting from the growth of private automobile transport, subsidies for dispersed housing and highway development, and lifestyle choices favoring suburbanization, and a diffusion of power and economic activity in space have all diluted the role of central cities that had formerly been identified as metropolises.   Furthermore, large cities now emerging or evolving in Asia and Africa may not exhibit a classic metropolis form, but establish new patterns of development.

For more information:
·         Borchert, J. R. 1967. American metropolitan evolution. Geographical Review 57:301-332.
·         Cronon, W. 1991. Nature's metropolis: Chicago and the great west. Norton, New York.
·         Gottmann, J. 1961. Megalopolis: the urbanized northeastern seaboard of the United States. The Twentieth Century Fund, New York.
·         Shane, D. G. 2011. Urban design since 1945 -- a global perspective. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester UK.
·         Sterns, M. A. and W. M. Marsh. 1997. Editor's introduction. The decentered city: edge cities and the expanding metropolis. Landscape and Urban Planning 15:39-58.

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