The Northeastern Urban Complex, as defined in this study, is clearly highly urban in its concentration of a large population within a limited area and in its style of living. It is equally clearly a complex of cities, SMSAs, and urbanized areas. But is it, in any meaningful sense, an integrated region or integrated regional megalopolis? Is it anything more than a large collection of urban centers within a region which is moderately small on the U.S. geographical scale? The degree of unity or of integration of the geographic area is the subject of this chapter.
Gottmann first applied the term "megalopolis" to this region, and hence it is desirable to study what he meant by the term.1 Did he view the region as primarily a large collection of cities (or SMSAs or urbanized areas) within a limited geographical space, with obvious and natural interconnections between the various centers? Or did he view it as something more -- an integrated regional megalopolis, set apart in some way or to some degree from other urban areas of the United States and the world, with a unity and a character beyond that of a mere collection of urban centers?
Unfortunately for the present purpose, the more one studies Gottmann, the less sure one can be as to exactly what he does mean. The problem is perhaps partly one of semantics. Just what meaning and connotations attach to such words as "megalopolis," "complex," "integrated"? Perhaps the problem is more difficult. The kind of population pattern along the northeastern seaboard is, Gottmann asserts with logic, in some degree unique in the world's history. Hence one neither fully understands it nor finds words that exactly portray his meaning.
Many of Gottmann's statements lend support to the idea that he conceived of the Northeastern Urban Complex as a regionally integrated megalopolis, something more than a mere collection of urban areas. He refers to "the enormous and powerful concentration of people and activities now achieved" in the region (p. ix). The opening chapter declares that:
. . . the processes of urbanization, rooted deep in the American past, have worked steadily here, endowing the region with unique ways of life and of land use. No other section of the United States has such a large concentration