Dividing the metropolis

The political history of suburban incorporation in the United States

Authored by: Jon C. Teaford

The Routledge Companion to the Suburbs

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138290235
eBook ISBN: 9781315266442
Adobe ISBN:


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Basic to American political history has been a devotion to grassroots rule and a commitment to local units of government. This belief in government close to the people underlies the proliferation of incorporated municipalities over the past two hundred years. At the beginning of the twenty-first century the Federal Census Bureau reported a total of 19,429 municipalities in the United States, with more than a thousand each in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Texas. This municipal fecundity is especially evident in metropolitan areas where an array of “heights,” “parks,” “woods,” and “hills” clutter the map and fragment the governance of each region. Los Angeles County alone is home to 88 municipalities with an additional 34 in adjacent Orange County. A multiplicity of municipal governments is one of the inescapable facts of American metropolitan life.

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