The Political Integration of Metropolitan Areas

July 11, 1930

Report Outline
Problem of the Metropolitan Area
The Extramural Plan and Annexation
Consolidation of City and County
The Metropolitan District Method
The Federal Plan of Metropolitan Government
The Regional Plan of Government

Problem of the Metropolitan Area

Returns from the 1930 census to date reveal a continuing urbanization of the American people. Figures from all parts of the country show that the large cities have been gaining in population at the expense of the rural districts. The drift to the cities is the more striking when heads are counted in the “greater city,” including its suburbs or “trade territory.” In many cities thousands of people who do their business in the city live just outside its political boundaries—a condition which has led to the claim that the Bureau of the Census should take the population of suburbs into consideration in compiling its new city ratings. As a result of such claims the bureau may set up this year a new classification—the “greater city”—to include communities on the periphery of large cities, although outside their political limits.

This steady tendency of cities to grow at the edges directs attention anew to the problem of the political organization of metropolitan territories. The metropolitan area or region is not a new phenomenon; it is as old as the city; but the problem it presents becomes more manifest with the increasing growth of the city.

A metropolitan area may be described as a community having common interests and common problems; united physically, socially, and economically, but divided politically into a number of small municipalities or “satellite cities” grouped around a large central city, on which they depend for their existence. In 1920 there were, in various parts of the country, 29 such metropolitan communities whose central cities had populations of more than 200,000. When the 1930 census figures are complete, it will be found that the number and size of these metropolitan areas has considerably increased.

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