Fun with Megalopolises

 

I am in the process of writing a book. That probably should not be a surprise considering it’s the twentieth book I have written in the last four years. In a chapter recently in process, a character makes a superlative statement about the city she lives in, and another character makes a qualifying statement about how there are many larger cities, it’s simply that sometimes cities grow into each other until one can no longer tell where one ends and the next begins. When I wrote this, I was specifically thinking of the Northeast Corridor from Boston to Washington, DC. That area is sometimes named for Joe Biden’s favorite train and called the Acela Corridor.

Curious, I looked for more information on the area, and found that one of the official names is the Northeast Megaregion, although the more common term for one of these conglomerations globally is a megalopolis. It has about fifty-eight million people in the several cities in that string of beads. Of course, I went looking for more information on megalopolises, because who wouldn’t? (Okay, okay, maybe what my attention is drawn to is not what fascinates the average person. Settle down out there.)

Naturally, I figured that some of the largest megalopolises would be in Asia, and I was not wrong. China has three that are well over a hundred million people in population. One all the way to a hundred-fifty million. There are lots of countries that don’t even have a hundred million people as a total population, and China has three megalopolises that blow right past that number. They have a total of thirteen megalopolises, by the way, with the smallest at over eleven million people.

Elsewhere in Asia, the belt that includes Tokyo in Japan has over eighty-million people. India has three megalopolises, although they only range between twenty-five and forty-six million. I expected more and larger for India. Two other standouts in Asia are the megalopolises that contain Jakarta and Manila.

Africa’s largest is the Nile Delta Megalopolis at fifty million people.

Bananas

Then we come to Europe. Europe’s megalopolises are the most fun both on maps and by names. Their three largest are the Blue Banana, Golden Banana, and Green Banana. They have three more, but they are all under fifteen million people. The Blue Banana goes from Liverpool, down through London, across to pick up cities in the Netherlands and Belgium, plus a lot of the Rhine Valley, extending into France to pick up minor towns such as Paris and then on through Switzerland to pick up Turin, Milan, and Venice in Italy. That is the largest non-Asian megalopolis at between 110-130 million people.

The Golden Banana goes from Turin in Italy, picks up Genoa, then cruises along the coast to pick up the South of France, Monaco, Andorra, and the Eastern regions of Spain. The Green Banana picks up much of central Europe’s cities going through Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, and so forth to Trieste in Italy. All the bananas end in Italy.

South America has nineteen with the largest covering Brazilian cities, such as Rio and São Paulo at about fifty-one million.

North America has eight. That includes such as Mexico City with thirty million people, one in Canada they call the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor, and the Northeast Megaregion in the US I already mentioned. It also includes one more. It’s the largest megaregion or megalopolis in North America. It includes that Quebec City-Windsor Corridor as part of it, but keeps going along the Great Lakes on both sides so that it includes Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, those weird cities in Ohio and Wisconsin, and other Rust Belt places. That’s right. The Great Lakes Megalopolis is the largest in the New World. Forget the Northeast Corridor. Forget Southern California. Forget the Texas Triangle. The Great Lakes is the center of the New World.

Do you live in a Megalopolis? (Or a Magalopolis?)  Would you prefer not to? What’s the best megalopolis you have ever visited?

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  1. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    I live in the Los Angeles-Orange County-San Diego corridor. It’s OK; personally, I prefer my old home town, New York. Berlin, London, and Paris are all great places. 

    • #1
  2. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    I live in the Los Angeles-Orange County-San Diego corridor. It’s OK; personally, I prefer my old home town, New York. Berlin, London, and Paris are all great places.

    I too live in the LA-area sprawl.  It’s my home town — the hospital I was born in is now the headquarters of Scientology and the first house I lived in is now the west bound on ramp to the Santa Monica Freeway at La Cienega Boulevard.

    I agree with Gary, it’s OK. I spent the better part of a year in Paris some years ago and it is a special city.

    You didn’t mention the namesake of the term — the ancient Peloponnesian city of Megalopolis.  Not that it is particularly noteworthy, but it did have the name long ago.

    • #2
  3. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Arahant: it’s simply that sometimes cities grow into each other until one can no longer tell where one ends and the next begins.

    If that’s the definition of a Megalopolis, even being generous and using some poetic license, most of those described wouldn’t fit the definition.  

    Certainly not this one:   “It includes that Quebec City-Windsor Corridor as part of it, but keeps going along the Great Lakes on both sides so that it includes Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, those weird cities in Ohio and Wisconsin, and other Rust Belt places”

    • #3
  4. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Clavius (View Comment):
    You didn’t mention the namesake of the term — the ancient Peloponnesian city of Megalopolis.  Not that it is particularly noteworthy, but it did have the name long ago.

    True. But it was nothing like these.

    • #4
  5. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):
    If that’s the definition of a Megalopolis

    No, that’s more my shorthand version. It’s not the official definition of anything.

    • #5
  6. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    You can drive from West Fort Worth to east Dallas and not know You have driven through multiple cities.

    Our area is called “The Metroplex.”

    • #6
  7. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    You can drive from West Fort Worth to east Dallas and not know You have driven through multiple cities.

    Our area is called “The Metroplex.”

    Or including down to Houston and San Antonio, the Texas Triangle Megaregion or Texaplex, which I rather like that name. Parker County is included in that, too, out west of Fort Worth.

    • #7
  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Arahant: those weird cities in Ohio and Wisconsin

    That is not a useful discriminant.

    • #8
  9. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Percival (View Comment):

    Arahant: those weird cities in Ohio and Wisconsin

    That is not a useful discriminant.

    I know. 😸

    • #9
  10. John H. Member
    John H.
    @JohnH

    Arahant:

    The Green Banana picks up much of central Europe’s cities going through Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, and so forth to Trieste in Italy. 

    Amazingly, the Slovene name for Slovenia does not translate as “and so forth.”

    South America has nineteen with the largest covering Brazilian cities, such as Rio and São Paulo at about fifty-one million.

    There is a lot of farmland, plus mountains, beaches, and other minimally peopled areas, between Rio and São Paulo.

    My point is that many megalopolises, maybe all of them, are imaginary. 

    • #10
  11. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    If it has city buses, it is too big for me. I like a lot of green…trees and grass. When we were in San Diego a few weeks ago, the bus drivers must have thought the Clampetts were in town. 

    • #11
  12. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Not sure the  California Bay Area qualifies. Assume about 6 million from San  Jose (about 1 million) to San Francisco.  Even including the East Bay towns no where near the China examples and son is getting married in one in Dec. Hangzou. About 6 million folks and an hour south of Shanghai. 

    • #12
  13. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    The problem with including Chicago and St. Louis in the same megalopolis is that you’re going to be driving past a whole lot of houses with front yards that look like this

    except bigger.

    • #13
  14. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member
    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw
    @MattBalzer

    Arahant: The Great Lakes is the center of the New World.

    I  mean, obviously. 

    • #14
  15. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Percival (View Comment):

    The problem with including Chicago and St. Louis in the same megalopolis is that you’re going to be driving past a whole lot of houses with front yards that look like this

    except bigger.

    Last month I rode my bicycle in a couple of those European megalopolises.   My favorite parts looked something like the above.   Well, maybe not quite that extreme, but there is no trouble telling where a village ends or begins.   In most cases.  There were some rural areas where one modern village runs into another, but there were open spaces in between them, too.  

    • #15
  16. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Percival (View Comment):

    The problem with including Chicago and St. Louis in the same megalopolis is that you’re going to be driving past a whole lot of houses with front yards that look like this

    except bigger.

    That looks more like Wyoming than Illinois (too brown and no trees),  but the point  is a good one.

    • #16
  17. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    The problem with including Chicago and St. Louis in the same megalopolis is that you’re going to be driving past a whole lot of houses with front yards that look like this

    except bigger.

    That looks more like Wyoming than Illinois (too brown and no trees), but the point is a good one.

    This time of year, the corn and soybeans that haven’t already been harvested are brown. That might be hay. Trees are intermittent, but a lot more frequent than Wyoming.

    • #17
  18. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Percival (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    The problem with including Chicago and St. Louis in the same megalopolis is that you’re going to be driving past a whole lot of houses with front yards that look like this

    except bigger.

    That looks more like Wyoming than Illinois (too brown and no trees), but the point is a good one.

    This time of year, the corn and soybeans that haven’t already been harvested are brown. That might be hay. Trees are intermittent, but a lot more frequent than Wyoming.

    That looks like grassland, and not like any planted rowcrop of grasses.  Maybe it could be harvested as hay at the right time, but it doesn’t look promising in this photo.  It’s not like any hay crop or grassland used for hay that I ever encountered back in the day.  Might be good pasturage, though.

    Also, I see structures indicating that humans are taking over. Might be time to move on.  

    • #18
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    John H. (View Comment):
    My point is that many megalopolises, maybe all of them, are imaginary. 

    Same with most cities, to be honest. And countries, too.

    • #19
  20. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    John H. (View Comment):
    Amazingly, the Slovene name for Slovenia does not translate as “and so forth.”

    I never took Slovenian. I know the German is: und so weider. What is it in Slovenia?

    • #20
  21. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Not sure the California Bay Area qualifies. Assume about 6 million from San Jose (about 1 million) to San Francisco. Even including the East Bay towns no where near the China examples and son is getting married in one in Dec. Hangzou. About 6 million folks and an hour south of Shanghai.

    Supposed to be twelve million in your area. No, I don’t know where they all are, only that they are depositing waste products on the sidewalks that you would clean up if they came from your dog.

    • #21
  22. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Percival (View Comment):

    The problem with including Chicago and St. Louis in the same megalopolis is that you’re going to be driving past a whole lot of houses with front yards that look like this

    except bigger.

    It makes a city much, much better.

    • #22
  23. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    I didn’t have time to read the whole post, but they’re my favorite dinosaur too! 

    • #23
  24. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    TBA (View Comment):

    I didn’t have time to read the whole post, but they’re my favorite dinosaur too!

    I love how they balance with their tail as they waltz across Texas.

    • #24
  25. John H. Member
    John H.
    @JohnH

    Arahant (View Comment):

    John H. (View Comment):
    Amazingly, the Slovene name for Slovenia does not translate as “and so forth.”

    I never took Slovenian. I know the German is: und so weider. What is it in Slovenia?

    In Slovene, in tako dalje (itd.). In German, und so weiter (sorry to be pedantic but I could be saving you some grief in Germany itself). 

    In Spanish and Portuguese, et cetera (etc.)! Walked right into THAT one!

    As for cities being perhaps as imaginary as megalopolises: Ljubljana, which I have walked into, across, and then out of, is real.

    • #25
  26. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    John H. (View Comment):
    (sorry to be pedantic but I could be saving you some grief in Germany itself). 

    Were I to go to Germany, I would probably refresh my German from having one semester at university forty years ago. Pedantic is fine.

    • #26
  27. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    John H. (View Comment):
    As for cities being perhaps as imaginary as megalopolises: Ljubljana, which I have walked into, across, and then out of, is real.

    Walking is probably is easier than driving into Ljubljana, across it, and out of it.  Perhaps faster, too.   I didn’t try bicycling there. 

    • #27
  28. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Arahant: those weird cities in Ohio and Wisconsin

    That is not a useful discriminant.

    I know. 😸

    I think I live in one of those weird cities in Ohio……….Howdy Neighbor!

    • #28
  29. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Arahant: those weird cities in Ohio and Wisconsin

    That is not a useful discriminant.

    I know. 😸

    I think I live in one of those weird cities in Ohio……….Howdy Neighbor!

    Last week we stayed in a small city in Ohio that was not weird, i.e. one that didn’t have the Good Ol’ Boy vibe you find in a lot of cities of similar size in Ohio and Indiana. 

    • #29
  30. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Arahant: those weird cities in Ohio and Wisconsin

    That is not a useful discriminant.

    I know. 😸

    I think I live in one of those weird cities in Ohio……….Howdy Neighbor!

    Last week we stayed in a small city in Ohio that was not weird, i.e. one that didn’t have the Good Ol’ Boy vibe you find in a lot of cities of similar size in Ohio and Indiana.

    So where did you stay?

    • #30
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