The Government of Metropolitan Areas in the United States

By Paul Studenski; Frank H. Sommer et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
RESULTS OF CONSOLIDATIONS AND ANNEXATIONS-- THE SUBURBAN VIEWPOINT

As a consequence of consolidations and annexations described in the foregoing chapters, substantial portions of our metropolitan areas have been unified under a single government. An analysis of Table I shows that the metropolitan cities of today cover on the average nearly 20 per cent of the area of their respective metropolitan regions (as the United States bureau of the census has defined them), 80 per cent of their respective metropolitan populations, and somewhat more than 80 per cent of the metropolitan tax resources. Without consolidations and annexations, they would have contained today not more than 1 per cent of the area, 10 per cent of the population, and 40 per cent of the tax resources of their metropolitan districts. The present-day city would have been almost entirely outside the political limits of the central city and would have been divided into a multiplicity of independent political units. The situation would have been very much like that which obtained in London, prior to the creation of the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1855.1


Water Supply

One of the first activities following consolidation or annexation has been the extension of the city's water supply to new territories which have no supply or one that is inadequate or impure.

This was the case in Chicago following the annexations of 1889. In every district, city water was substituted for local supplies, and local works were scrapped. One hundred thirty- three miles of water mains were laid in the city during the first

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1
It is interesting to note that Eli K. Price, the man responsible for the consolidation of Philadelphia in 1854, saw in the tendency towards consolidation a manifestation of American progressiveness. Speaking of what would happen to Philadelphia if it should not consolidate, he wrote ( History of the Consolidation of Philadelphia, p. 13): "In time Philadelphia would be outside the City, as the great London is outside of the little City of London. This was an instance of English resistance of change, partaking the character of Chinese fixedness, not to be imitated by progressive Americans, who always felt themselves competent to change their laws and Constitutions as may be required by the change of circumstances, without danger to the vested rights of property, or stability of governments."

-105-

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