Metropolitan Government

August 15, 1956

Report Outline
Governmental Needs in Metropolitan Areas
Ways to Unify Government in Expanding Areas
Proposals for Metropolitan Government
Metropolitan Government in Toronto Area
Special Focus

Governmental Needs in Metropolitan Areas

A search is on for new instrumentalities of government to deal more effectively with the requirements of metropolitan areas, which extend over a number of politically independent communities. Spectacular spreading out of big cities into the surrounding countryside—frequently across county and state lines as well as municipal boundaries—has created a situation, which the affected local governments often cannot handle to public satisfaction. A Council of State Governments survey, submitted to the Governors' Conference last June, pointed to “the absence of general local governmental organizations broad enough to cope with metropolitan matters” and to the “lack of area-wide governmental jurisdictions that can effectively provide and finance services” needed by residents of metropolitan communities.

Nature, Extent, Growth of Metropolitan Areas

The Census Bureau defines a “standard metropolitan area” as “a county or group of contiguous counties which contains at least one city of 50,000 inhabitants or more.” Contiguous counties are included if they are socially and economically integrated with the central city, and if they are primarily places of employment or residence for non-agricultural workers. In New England, where the city and town are administratively more important than the county, metropolitan areas are based on contiguous towns and cities having a population density of at least 100 to 150 persons per square mile.

Every one of the 48 states, with six exceptions, contains one or more of the country's present total of 172 metropolitan areas. Twenty-four of the areas extend across state lines, and a number include all or parts of more than one county. More than one-half of the people of the United States live in metropolitan areas, and most of the recent population growth has taken place there. When the 1950 census was taken, 56 per cent of the population inhabited metropolitan areas. A sample census survey in 1955 indicated that the ratio had risen by then to 59 per cent. During the five-year interval the metropolitan population had increased by about 11 million and that of other areas by only around 300,000.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
State and Local Governments
Feb. 26, 2021  State Finances
Sep. 11, 2009  State Budget Crisis
Oct. 03, 2003  State Budget Crises
Dec. 24, 1971  State Legislatures in Transition
Sep. 25, 1968  State Constitutional Reform
Oct. 11, 1967  Local Government Modernization
Aug. 15, 1956  Metropolitan Government
May 25, 1939  Reorganization of City Government
Feb. 24, 1939  Reorganization of County Government
May 23, 1938  Reorganization of State Governments
Oct. 29, 1937  State Control of Local Government
Sep. 01, 1936  Consolidation of Local Governments
Jan. 03, 1933  Reorganization of Local Government
Jun. 02, 1930  Changes in American City Government
Oct. 30, 1924  Political Statistics of the States
Regional Planning and Urbanization
State, Local, and Intergovernmental Relations