Metro is the general term used for any metropolitan area, including all the local municipalities within it. A metropolitan area or metropolis is generally a compact urban centre consisting of its more-populous surrounding areas and densely populated central part under the same political division, sharing public infrastructure, industry and housing. The term ‘metro’ may refer to any one of these but not all. It is usually associated with a city or metropolitan area. As the world’s largest financial and political centre, New York is considered as a metropolitan area.
In order to classify cities into metropolitan statistical areas, some nations use a hybrid model that combines urbanicity with suburbanicity, with regard to the overall layout and design of the cities in question. Some nations refer to metropolitan areas as mere parts of larger economic entities. Other nations use separate names for metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas, sometimes with regard to political divisions. Still other nations combine metropolitan and non-metropolitan locations under a single name, although the boundaries between them may vary considerably from nation to nation. In the United States, however, a metropolitan statistical area is generally designated as an unincorporated area containing a population of more than a hundred thousand, including people who are not residents of the metropolitan city but who technically live in another state or outside of the United States.
There are many kinds of metropolitan areas. The most famous ones are those in the two biggest cities in America – New York City and Los Angeles. But some other American metropolitan areas have become well-known names over time, and their significance as business and residential centres has spread to some lesser cities as well. Some examples include Chicago, which are the world’s third-largest financial city, and Phoenix, the capital of Arizona.
The population, economic development and land availability of cities in the United States provide an excellent basis for assigning numerical values to different cities. Metro areas have their own governmental boundaries, often administrative boundaries that overlap significantly with counties or states. In some cases, these administrative boundaries have become so close that parts of the metropolitan area, sometimes even including adjacent counties, are included in more than one county. In this case, each metropolitan area is assigned a numerical value that combines the sizes of its urbanicity, density and political polarity with its political influence and commercial activity.
The process of assigning a numerical value to a city is complicated by the fact that there are many ways in which to classify a metropolitan area. Practically, any defined urban area is automatically classified as a metropolitan area, irrespective of whether it is formally included within counties, states or other municipal entities. Still more important, when most politicians talk about a metropolitan area, they are talking about actual cities and their urban agglomerations. Many metropolitan statistical areas have many suburbs but constitute a very small urban agglomeration.
In recent years, the term “metro” has been increasingly used, even by local politicians in some major U.S. cities. Unfortunately, because the United States Congress has never taken up the issue of municipal consolidation, the meaning of the term “metro” remains somewhat vague. Still worse, the word “metro” is being used so commonly that many citizens have come to regard any metropolitan place that includes an entire metropolitan region as a “cosmopolitan city.” A cosmopolitan city, in the popular imagination, is by definition a progressive, liberal-thinking city with a strong economic base and a highly developed social safety net. A recent survey by the Economic Research Service of the National Bureau of Economic Research identified thirty-six metropolitan areas in the United States that fit this definition.
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