Region of Megalopolis (urban area in Northern America) and its sub-Region of Nantucket (off Cape Cod)
This paper describes the geographic region of Megalopolis (urban area in Northern America) and its sub-region of Nantucket (off Cape Cod). It also deals with the history of Nantucket and the causes that led to the formation of the megalopolis in northeastern USA. Megalopolis comes from the Greek words for 'very large' (Mega) and city (polis). It basically means a very large city. Jean Gottmann, a Frenchman, coined this term to refer to northeastern USA extending from Boston to Washington DC. The idea of Megalopolis existed in Ancient Greece where they attempted to create a very large city in the Peloponnese Peninsula. Their attempt was unsuccessful but the small city of Megalopolis that they created still exists. The concept of Megalopolis lies in the fact that cities are not viewed as individual units but as regions that spread out from the city nucleus.
Modern cities were formed as a result of the establishment of large-scale industries during the Industrial Revolution. Many people migrated from the rural areas to the urban industrialized areas with a hope of earning more in the city. Thus the metropolitan cities gradually grew in size with the establishment of industries and the inflow of workers. In the 20th century in the United States the growth of the urban city gradually spread to the outskirts of the city as well. This led to the development of suburbs. Migration to the suburbs was encouraged because transportation facilities had developed and it was easy to travel between the city center and the outskirts. The rise of automobiles led to the rise of the suburban area. The reason for the attraction towards suburbs was because they offered an urban lifestyle in a picturesque, pleasant and quiet setting. As the suburbs started growing, they tended to overlap with the suburbs of other major cities.
This is the case of the continuity formation between Boston and Washington on the East Coast of the U.S. Megalopolis can be defined as a group of densely populated urban areas that combine together to form a larger metropolitan complex. (www.encyclopedia.com) Megapolises can even extend beyond national boundaries because it is the physical geography of the area that leads to a Megalopolis. (www.geocities.com/atlas/urb).Gottmann's Megalopolis, also sometimes known as BosWash area (extending from Boston in the north to Washington in the south), covers a large urban area of over 300 miles in length. Gottmann described this region as providing the entire nation with essential services and even nicknamed it as "Main Street of the Nation." (Gottmann, 1961). According to Gottmann this region was formed due to changing social and work habits. This area of the country has many banking, academic, media and governmental sectors functioning. The continuity of the Megalopolis exists not because the entire area is urbanized but because of the transportation and communication that existed within this region. Jean Gottmann has also stated the importance of telecommunication in the development of the megalopolis. (Gottmann, 1983).
This region in America initially consisted of colonial settlements and then gradually communication links improved in this area. The population of the Megalopolis has also increased over the years and it has more than 16% of the entire U.S. population. (www.geography.about.com).This region has sometimes been considered as a single economic and social unit. The megalopolis includes the most densely populated state in the U.S. (New Jersey with a density of 1000 persons per square mile) and also includes the capital of the country (Washington D.C). As far as academic sector is related, this region is the largest center of higher education, with Boston itself having over 400 institutions). New York can be said to be the center of the megalopolis itself. (Lecture notes). In his study, Jean Gottmann showed that during the last half-century the nodes of concentration had emerged in the megalopolis rather than a generalized urban region. These nodes of concentration were interconnected and he stated that sub-urbanization had proceeded at a slower rate compared to the rest of the nation. (Gottmann; Harper, 1990)
The Northeastern part of the United States became known as "melting pot" because this was the area of fusion of people from various nations into Americans. This region exhibits European culture much more than any other part of the country. This area was only wilderness around three centuries ago. As the colonists settled down in this region they adapted themselves. In many of the places the outskirts of the city merge with farmlands and pastures. The changes have occurred in the farm produces; earlier they used to grains but now the farms are devoted to dairy cattle, chickens or fruits. This clearly demonstrates that he agricultural production has changed over the years to meet the industrial economy of the region. Most of the manufacturers produce goods that could be transported fresh to the nearby market area. This northeastern area had a good market (people capable of buying goods) and thus it was cheaper for the manufacturers of food and clothing to set up their industries closer to the market.
When these industries were established, workers were required and in this way the economy of the region kept growing. This area today is basically an old farming region where cities and industries have grown and spread. The sea is one of the main reasons why this northeastern region has become an industrial center. The main cities in this Megalopolis are Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington. The eastern coast of the U.S.A. borders one of the world's greatest "fish bowls." The area is rich in tiny plants and animals that support fish life. Along this coastal region there are several fishing towns. Before the use of petroleum, whale oil was commonly used and this region was responsible for hunting of whales. The importance of sea is mainly in foreign trade. When the United States was just developing, many of the products not manufactured in the country, like cloth and tools, were imported though this area. (Basingstoke, 1993)
Today, Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore are important ports as well as industrial centers. But even though the industries were established, it was a slow process to transport goods to the interior parts of the country. The main form of transport was wagons drawn by horses or oxen and this was too slow and too expensive for transporting goods. To improve internal trade routes within the country, canals were constructed. This was especially fruitful and feasible in the case of New York. The city had huge profits because the exports were much greater than the imports. Due to this the shipping companies were willing to carry passengers for cheaper fares on their return trip from Europe. Thus New York became one of the greatest ports for immigrant entry as well. The establishment of railways was a very significant factor in connecting the other manufacturing centers to the interior parts of United States. In some areas like Philadelphia railroads were the only means of linking the city to the interior of the country. Railways became more popular than the canal routes but both helped in bridging cities together. (Mittleman, 1995).
Nantucket Island is a part of Massachusetts State lying twenty-eight miles away from coast of Cape Cod. As far as size is concerned it is just 3.5 miles from north to south and 14 miles across east to west. An interesting fact is that the island does not have a single traffic light. (www.pe.net/~rksnow/macountynantucket.htm).Nantucket was one of the major whaling ports till the decline of the whaling industry. The name Nantucket means 'far away land' in Native American. Nantucket is the only place in America to have the same name for a town, island and a county. Initially around 1500 Native Americans inhabited it. Later some Massachusetts Englishmen bought the island to rear sheep and escape from the strict rules of Massachusetts Bay Colony. They wanted to escape the rigid religious rules imposed by the Puritans. To have some additional source of income whaling men were recruited to teach the islanders how to hunt for whales and extract the oil.
In those days whales were abundant and could be trapped near the shore itself. Whale oil was used in factories and also for lighting lamps since petroleum was yet to be discovered. Due to continual hunting, the whale population reduced and it became necessary to venture into the seas to hunt for whales. By accident a sperm whale was caught and this was found to yield far more oil than the normal whales. Hunting of sperm whales began and the Nantucket whaling industry was booming. In the period between 1800-1840 Nantucket was the whaling capital of the world. It was due to the establishment of the whaling industry that Nantucket began developing. But the whaling industry soon started to decline. As the years went by the population of whales kept declining due to over-hunting and whale oil was being replaced by petroleum.…