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Old 12-28-2012, 07:48 PM
 
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Thanks for posting this, Katiana. It gives a good feel of what areas grew when. For the most part, the large metros of 1940 are the places with the strongest transit now, but there are exceptions like Detroit. The table also helps explain why Los Angeles is more urban than people expect--it already had well over 2 million people in 1940.

There were quite a few suburbs in 1940, but they were still a secondary part of the metropolitan area. There were elite 19th Century railroad suburbs, like the Main Line of Philadelphia. There were middle class streetcar suburbs. A lot of suburban areas had been developed between 1920 and 1940. They were car accessible, but some, especially in larger cities, had strong transit service. There were some working class industrial suburbs, which were the only ones that had a substantial employment base.

It's important to separate suburban in housing/urban form and suburban as a separate municipality. Many of the suburbs of this era were developed within city limits.
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Old 12-29-2012, 04:09 AM
 
Location: Michigan
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If anyone was curious, here's Detroit circa 1931. City population was around 1-1.5 million about this time and had gained another 100,000 by 1940. Metro population was 2.3 million in 1930 and 2.5 million in 1940. (OP's post only includes Wayne county's population.)

I tried to make a crude outline of the city limits (Detroit last annexed land in 1929), with noticeable suburbs. It's pretty obvious where post-war development takes place.







Sources:
WSU Virtual Motor City Collection (Detroit News)**1*to*14* of *14*hits**

Last edited by animatedmartian; 12-29-2012 at 04:22 AM..
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Old 12-30-2012, 07:44 AM
 
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I'm guessing that the definition of "urban area" back then would've corresponded strongly to the extent of the interurban lines.

In Philly that probably would've meant Bristol to Chester (north to south) and Media and Norristown on the west (those interurban routes are still in operation) out to Clementon, NJ on the east. Of course, in between all of these commuter and interurban routes were farms, not subdivisions.

Here's LA.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0PMIHAxVRh...Red+car+1+.jpg
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:53 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drive carephilly View Post
Yeah, was going to post that. It's crazy how much the interurbans of even the teens and 20s already encompassed most of what we know today as the LA area. LA was a "metropolitan area" very early on.

Also, no need to quibble about numbers, but those #'s from the OP are suspect (and the author admits so to his methodology). LA County had over 2.7M by 1940 according to the census, while this list cites 2.26M for the metro. Don't think there's any part of LA County that wouldn't be part of the "LA metro" back in 1940.
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:57 AM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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I think this was meant to be urban area (contiguous development) not metro area which people use interchangeably. Perhaps some of the more far flung portion of LA county were separate back then?
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:00 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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Lancaster, Palmdale and Santa Clarita are in LA county and could be considered separate at that time, but I don't think 430k people lived in those suburbs.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:03 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by memph View Post
Lancaster, Palmdale and Santa Clarita are in LA county and could be considered separate at that time, but I don't think 430k people lived in those suburbs.
They are not counted as part of the LA urban area today, either. Current boundaries shown in red:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GreaterLAmap.png
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Old 12-31-2012, 03:34 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drive carephilly View Post
I'm guessing that the definition of "urban area" back then would've corresponded strongly to the extent of the interurban lines.

In Philly that probably would've meant Bristol to Chester (north to south) and Media and Norristown on the west (those interurban routes are still in operation) out to Clementon, NJ on the east. Of course, in between all of these commuter and interurban routes were farms, not subdivisions.

Here's LA.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0PMIHAxVRh...Red+car+1+.jpg
There used to be an interurban line from Denver to Boulder, 30 miles to the northwest. At that time, it was mostly vacant land in between, and Boulder had a population of 9500. (Denver's was 213,000.) There are people now who don't find Boulder to be a part of Denver metro (though Boulder County is part of the CSA).

Globeville Story: The Denver & Interurban
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Old 12-31-2012, 03:54 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
There used to be an interurban line from Denver to Boulder, 30 miles to the northwest. At that time, it was mostly vacant land in between, and Boulder had a population of 9500. (Denver's was 213,000.) There are people now who don't find Boulder to be a part of Denver metro (though Boulder County is part of the CSA).

Globeville Story: The Denver & Interurban
Same for Philadelphia and Reading, Philadelphia and Bethlehem, Philadelphia and Pottsville. None of those cities are part of the Philadelphia MSA today, though Reading is within the CSA. There were towns in between, but mostly farmland.
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Old 12-31-2012, 04:22 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BTA88 View Post
Why the asterisk next to New York?

What's really amazing is how much of the metro population cities used to make up. Before the widespread cars and Levittowns, the metros were pretty much all city.
Except in cities like Chicago, New York and Boston which had (and still have) good commuter trains. Though the suburbs were generally populated by the affluent.

Of course population trends change over a lifetime. But seeing the city population figures from 72 years ago I was shocked to find Detroit had a population well over a million.
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