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What are examples of cities created by conglomeration?
March 16, 2012 8:53 AM   Subscribe

E pluribus una (urbs): Out of many cities, one. Examples of cities that at some point were two or more independent cities?

Obvious examples are New York City (Brooklyn, along with the other boroughs, was gobbled up in 1898) and Budapest (Buda and Pest merged in 1873); in China I know about Wuhan (created from Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang in 1926). I've been reading a history of Germany and learned that Berlin was originally two towns, Berlin on the east bank of the Spree and Cölln on the west, while Königsberg was formed from the towns of Altstadt, Kneiphof, and Löbenicht. I find myself wanting to know about other such situations, and would be grateful for any further examples you know of. Thanks!
posted by languagehat to Society & Culture (57 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Pico Rivera, CA was founded in 1958, from the merger of the long-standing unincorporated communities of Pico (named for Pío Pico, the last Mexican governor of California) and Rivera.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pico_Rivera
posted by luckynerd at 9:00 AM on March 16, 2012


Boston annexed several surrounding towns in the 1870s, but was halted by Brookline resisting annexation. If Brookline had submitted, perhaps other towns would have followed suit, resulting in a much larger "Boston Proper" than we have today?
posted by Rock Steady at 9:02 AM on March 16, 2012


Tel Aviv and Jaffa.
posted by Iridic at 9:04 AM on March 16, 2012


I was staying in a hotel in Fort Worth one time, and to make conversation I asked the clerk, "So did Dallas and Fort Worth used to be two completely separate cities?" and she fixed me with an icy glare and said "They are still two completely separate cities."

But to answer your actual question, Princeton, NJ was until a few years ago actually two separate municipalities, Princeton Township and Princeton Borough, the latter entirely enclosed within the former.
posted by escabeche at 9:05 AM on March 16, 2012


The South Korean city of Jinhae-gu is set to merge (or possibly by now has already merged) with Changwon and Masan.

Terrebonne, Quebec is the result of a merger with Lachenaie, La Plaine, and Terrebonne.

Vieux-Longueuil, Quebec is the result of the merger of Ville Jacques-Cartier, Montréal-Sud and Longueuil.

Indian Hills, Kentucky is the result of the merger of Indian Hills, Indian Hills-Cherokee, Winding Falls, and Robinswood.

In Japan, Kitakyushu is the result of the merger of Moji, Kokura, Tobata, Yahata and Wakamatsu.

Joplin, Missouri is the result of the merger of Murphysburg and Union City, which merged, were split after the merger was found illegal, and then merged again.
posted by jedicus at 9:06 AM on March 16, 2012


Basically if you search Wikipedia for the phrase "cities merged" you'll find a whole bunch of examples.
posted by jedicus at 9:06 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think one very common scenario for this is going to be cities that were built on riverbanks, where the two sides merged once enough bridges were built that it was possible to govern them as a unit.

Another good example of this is the absorption of Manchester, VA into Richmond in 1910.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 9:07 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Berlin's history of fusion is even more complex. Modern Berlin was created in 1920 by an act of the Prussian parliament, fusing the old city of Berlin with seven other towns and a passel of villages and rural territories. The Wikipedia entry on Groß-Berlin is reliable.

Similarly, much of modern Paris was annexed in the 19th century. London's boroughs were once independent towns (the City, Westminster, Camden, Southwark, etc.). Detroit annexed neighboring villages in the early 1920s, though somehow not Hamtramck. It's a fairly common phenomenon.
posted by brianogilvie at 9:08 AM on March 16, 2012


When I think of the gobbling annex phenom I think of places I knew in Seattle. I'm not sure if this counts as a city (Wikipedia says yes) but Seattle was once smaller and Ballard was its own little fishing/boat building community, now just a neighborhood.
posted by jessamyn at 9:09 AM on March 16, 2012


The City of Baltimore was formed in 1796 by merging the Town of Baltimore (founded 1729) with Jonestown (established 1732, but settled in the mid-1600s) and the unicorporated but settled town of Fell's Point.
posted by spaltavian at 9:12 AM on March 16, 2012


I came here to suggest London too. Most of what we think of as central London is actually the City of Westminster, which still exists albeit as a borough council. Meanwhile, the City of London's borders haven't changed greatly since the early Middle Ages and is still separately governed distinct from the rest of the conurbation which shares the name.
posted by bebrogued at 9:13 AM on March 16, 2012


Several neighborhoods upriver from what is now downtown/French Quarter New Orleans were once independently incorporated towns. The main two were the City of Lafayette, which included the present-day Garden District (this is why the well known Garden District cemetery across from Commander's Palace is Lafayette #1) and Jefferson City, just upriver of the present-day Garden District.
posted by CheeseLouise at 9:16 AM on March 16, 2012


As a variation: the Pera/Galata neighborhood of Constantinople operated as an independent Genoese concession for nearly 200 years before the Turks conquered it and rolled it back up into the city proper.
posted by Iridic at 9:20 AM on March 16, 2012


Milwaukee's story is particularly colorful. The two towns on opposite sides of the river actually burned down bridges before unification.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:21 AM on March 16, 2012


A very small example: Emporia, Virginia, formed by merger Hicksford and Belfield.

I grew up near there. Wikipedia's claim that it was named after a town in Kansas, though odd, is correct. To the best of my recollection, the story is that a local politician was friends with someone from Emporia, Kansas, and suggested it. Of course, it's also the plural of emporium, which made sense.
posted by nangar at 9:23 AM on March 16, 2012


Charlestown was a separate city (and the original capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony before that) when it was annexed by Boston in 1874.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:24 AM on March 16, 2012


Pittsburgh is assembled from a variety of formerly independent boroughs and townships, but the last one was annexed in, I believe, 1912. The former City of Allegheny, today's North Side, was the most contentious of these; previously the law had required that majorities of voters in each jurisdiction had to approve a merger, but PA changed the law to require only a majority of all voters across the municipalities. Thus, though Allegheny rejected the merger by a significant margin, Pittsburgh's higher population was enough to overwhelm the 'no' votes.

Washington and Georgetown were once independent towns within DC, but the town governments were dissolved and merged into the District by Act of Congress sometime in the 1800s.

Philadelphia and Detroit--indeed, I'm willing to bet, most large American cities--are also assembled from formerly independent towns...
posted by FlyingMonkey at 9:27 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


The current Greater Toronto Area (GTA) was formally amalgamated from the earlier cities of old City of Toronto, East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and York. Those cities, in turn were amalgamated from a patchwork of villages - St James Town, Cabbagetown, Leaside, Islington Village... the list goes on and on.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:27 AM on March 16, 2012


Austin TX used to be two towns, Montopolis and Waterloo.

Chicago used to be a bunch of towns. In fact, the city's address scheme wasn't unified until the 1930s, so a major street that ran through what had been several towns would have address numbers repeating along its length, as each town had its own numbering scheme. Old city guides had to include both addresses and cross streets for this reason.

Before World War 2, Tokyo's city boundaries ended roughly at the Yamanote train line that encircled it. After, the city has spilled quite a distance outside that boundary, gobbling up what had been smaller towns. For that matter, people debate whether Tokyo is a city at all. Tokyo is officially referred to as a "metropolis" that is administratively equivalent to a prefecture and each of the "special wards" that encompass what we think of as the city (or metropolis) proper are equivalent to cities in themselves. Tokyo also encompasses cities and even islands.
posted by adamrice at 9:31 AM on March 16, 2012


Boston annexed several surrounding towns in the 1870s, but was halted by Brookline resisting annexation. If Brookline had submitted, perhaps other towns would have followed suit, resulting in a much larger "Boston Proper" than we have today?
posted by Rock Steady at 12:02 PM on March 16 [+] [!]


I think you meant to say a much larger Metropolitan Boston. Boston Proper has always been the original Boston from the Charles River to the Boston (Roxbury) Neck, and bordered by the Harbor.
posted by Gungho at 9:33 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Detroit expanded through annexation of surrounding villages and townships, not necessarily cities in their own right. Here's a map.
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 9:34 AM on March 16, 2012


Chicago used to be much, much smaller than it is now, and grew dramatically in 1889 when it gobbled up most of its inner ring suburbs in one fell swoop.
posted by Oktober at 9:35 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


My hometown of Edmonton, Alberta is another example. Edmonton was originally on the north side of the river and Strathcona was on the south. Edmonton annexed Strathcona just in time to become the capital of the province (there had, initially, been plans to make Strathcona the capital). We've now got a neighbourhood called "Old Strathcona."

We've also got an area of the city called Beverly (unofficially: "Olde Towne Beverly"), which used to be the mining town of Beverly.
posted by asnider at 9:37 AM on March 16, 2012


In South Wales, Llandaff was a city (as it had a cathedral) and it has now been absorbed by the city of Cardiff.
posted by carter at 9:38 AM on March 16, 2012


The city of Philadelphia was originally just a few square miles roughly corresponding to the present Center City; the Act of Consolidation formed the current city in 1854 by joining the entire Philadelphia County together under a single municipal government.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:40 AM on March 16, 2012


Bellingham, WA. Lots of awkwardly-shaped intersections and street lanes that disappear or abruptly change direction in the old downtown. (Holly St., I'm looking at you.)
posted by xedrik at 9:44 AM on March 16, 2012


The District of Columbia used to include a separate city of Georgetown.

Ancient Sparta is considered liekly to be a conurbation of pre-existing cities in the area.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:50 AM on March 16, 2012


Gungho: "I think you meant to say a much larger Metropolitan Boston. Boston Proper has always been the original Boston from the Charles River to the Boston (Roxbury) Neck, and bordered by the Harbor."

Sure did. Got my Bostonian Terms of Art mixed up. Next thing you know I'll switch Greater Boston and Inside 128.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:51 AM on March 16, 2012


[Folks, maybe check the question to see the examples the OP has listed? Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:57 AM on March 16, 2012


Whoops, just read your more inside, really the searchable term you are looking for is Conurbation
posted by Blasdelb at 9:58 AM on March 16, 2012


Chicago used to be a bunch of towns. In fact, the city's address scheme wasn't unified until the 1930s, so a major street that ran through what had been several towns would have address numbers repeating along its length, as each town had its own numbering scheme. Old city guides had to include both addresses and cross streets for this reason.

Pittsburgh, similarly, has several sets of streets with very similar names. North Taylor isn't the northern extension of, or even anywhere near, Taylor St--it's just the Taylor St that's on the North Side.

Meanwhile, Liberty Avenue is a major street running from Downtown to the East End; a couple miles east of where it ends, the neighborhood East Liberty has an East Liberty Boulevard. There's also a Liberty Bridge out of Downtown (but not connected to Liberty Ave), which passes through the Liberty Tunnel and becomes West Liberty Avenue in the South Hills. Got all that? Well, here's where it gets confusing: when computer systems developed by out-of-towners don't realize the 'East'/'West'/etc are not directional markers but integral parts of the street names, we end up with local radio announcers giving traffic reports of problems at intersections that don't exist: the other day, our local NPR affiliate dutifully repeated several times a NAVTEQ traffic report of a water main break at the intersection of Cape May and Liberty Avenue... which don't intersect. Cape May and West Liberty do, though...
posted by FlyingMonkey at 9:59 AM on March 16, 2012


The current Greater Toronto Area (GTA) was formally amalgamated from the earlier cities of old City of Toronto, East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and York. Those cities, in turn were amalgamated from a patchwork of villages - St James Town, Cabbagetown, Leaside, Islington Village... the list goes on and on.

Well, sort of - that is the current city of Toronto, not the Greater Toronto Area. The GTA is actually the city of Toronto plus the regions of York, Durham, Peel, and Halton.
posted by barney_sap at 10:00 AM on March 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Encinitas, California was created from a number of unincorporated towns or communities, combining them into one city when it was incorporated in 1986.

Los Angeles has swallowed up a number of other cities, especially at the start of the 20th century, inlcuding San Pedro, Hollywood, Wilmington, and many unincorporated communities or other land parcels. A full list of previously incorporated cities that were annexed into LA is in the wikipedia section.
posted by LionIndex at 10:06 AM on March 16, 2012


Cleveland had its own bridge related war. There was a conflict with neighboring Ohio City which resulted in serious injuries but no deaths. Some time later Ohio City was annexed into Cleveland.

The Old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland was also part of another city.
posted by stuart_s at 10:07 AM on March 16, 2012


Minneapolis absorbed the town of St. Anthony in 1872. It's now officially called the Nicollet Island/East Bank neighborhood. (But I live nearby and I didn't know that because everyone calls it St. Anthony or St. Anthony Main.)
posted by clavicle at 10:17 AM on March 16, 2012


When Denver was incorporated in 1861, it was amagamated from the separate towns of Denver, Auraria, and Highland. When the City and County of Denver was created in 1902, Denver, a bunch of smaller towns (such as Harmon, now known as the Cherry Creek neighborhood) were forcibly annexed into Denver.
posted by heurtebise at 10:28 AM on March 16, 2012


"I think you meant to say a much larger Metropolitan Boston. Boston Proper has always been the original Boston from the Charles River to the Boston (Roxbury) Neck, and bordered by the Harbor."

I agree that "Boston proper" refers to a certain area in the northeastern part of Boston. But I figured that "metropolitan Boston" at least included certain high-density close-in suburbs: Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, etc. (Roughly speaking, places you can get to on the T.)

Of course that leaves no term for the legal City of Boston...
posted by madcaptenor at 10:30 AM on March 16, 2012


The City of Winnipeg basically did this in the early '70s. Twenty years later, one of the municipalities (townships, essentially) that was folded into the unified city of Winnipeg decided to secede, reverting to its former unincorporated status.
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:38 AM on March 16, 2012


Palo Alto as it exists today, once consisted of the towns of Mayfield and Palo Alto. (In brief, Leland Stanford Sr., when looking to found a university, wanted to do so in this area, but not in a town that sold alcohol, as Mayfield did. So he founded a temperance town nearby. That town, Palo Alto, grew up to Mayfield's borders and eventually annexed it.)

An example of something which is not the opposite case: Palo Alto shares a border with East Palo Alto, and there exists a somewhat popular misconception that they were once the same city. (This was mentioned in an episode of Veronica Mars, as I recall.) They have always been separate cities—in fact, they are in separate counties. East Palo Alto is also, in fact, located due north of Palo Alto, but what is one to do?
posted by Bufo_periglenes at 10:39 AM on March 16, 2012


England is a little odd because we don't call towns "cities" until they have a cathedral or whatever, so some reasonable sized places (like tens of thousands) aren't called cities. Assuming by "city" you mean any "settlement of appreciable size", then:

Manchester swallowed Salford early, which was later granted city status in its own right.
Kingston–upon–Hull swallowed Wyke, an existing town on the same river.
Torbay was formed from Torquay, Paignton, and Brixham quite recently, and is still rather artificial.
Medway likewise has been formed from Rochester, Chatham, and Gillingham.
Brighton swallowed Hove, and the city is known as Brighton & Hove.
Newcastle took over its great rival Gateshead.

Some of the above have a single local government. Manchester and Newcastle don't, but it's undeniable that they're now a single city socially and economically. Some processes are still ongoing, such as the fiercely disputed Liverpool and Birkenhead, and more poignantly, Leeds and Bradford. In the latter case the two cities remain culturally distinct, but Bradford has declined so much that it's become increasingly economically dependent on Leeds.
posted by Jehan at 10:47 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Someone above mentioned Paris, which swallowed its neighboring villages two or three times to reach its current (still small) size. Paris used to be not much beyond the islands Ile de la Cite and Ile St Louis, but now extends a couple kilometers in each direction around them.

My previous home in Japan (Tsukuba) was a merger of 4 cities and perhaps another village or two. This was recent - sometime in the 1970s - and supported the larger idea of turning a sleepy country area with declining population into an independent research area (Tsukuba Science City) and eventual bedroom community for Tokyo. Tsukuba has a large university strong in science and athletics, campuses for a number of national research institutes, and sites for corporate R&D of both Japanese and foreign companies.
posted by whatzit at 10:49 AM on March 16, 2012


Portland, OR contains what used to be Vanport City, Albina, and East Portland (in addition to the original city of Portland).
posted by CutaneousRabbit at 11:01 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, forty answers in two hours, y'all are amazing!

> Similarly, much of modern Paris was annexed in the 19th century. London's boroughs were once independent towns (the City, Westminster, Camden, Southwark, etc.). Detroit annexed neighboring villages in the early 1920s, though somehow not Hamtramck. It's a fairly common phenomenon.

Yes, I should have made clear in my question that I'm not so much interested in that (generally quite modern) phenomenon, where cities just gobble up the surrounding territory, but in a more clear-cut situation where pre-existing cities join into one. And thanks, Blasdelb, of course I should have thought of "conurbation"; I'll add it to the tags.
posted by languagehat at 11:08 AM on March 16, 2012


Winston-Salem, North Carolina is like this. Generally, hyphens are promising here.
posted by dekathelon at 11:10 AM on March 16, 2012


dekathelon: "Winston-Salem, North Carolina is like this. Generally, hyphens are promising here."

Yup. I live in Fuquay-Varina, NC. Formed in the 60s by the merger of Fuquay Springs and Varina. It's pronounced FYOO-kway vuh-REE-nuh, by the way. Get your mind out of the gutter.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:39 AM on March 16, 2012


You might care to check out Cities and Regions of the European "Blue Banana"
posted by adamvasco at 2:41 PM on March 16, 2012


Indian Hills, Kentucky is the result of the merger of Indian Hills, Indian Hills-Cherokee, Winding Falls, and Robinswood.

Er...none of these were actually different cities. Indian Hills, the supposed mega-city, is not a city (at least, not what a layperson would consider a city). They are all various neighborhoods within the city of Louisville that were, as languagehat put it, "gobbled up" by Louisville as it expanded.
posted by pecanpies at 3:00 PM on March 16, 2012


I live within walking distance of the above-mentioned neighborhoods.
posted by pecanpies at 3:00 PM on March 16, 2012


The Trójmiasto (Tricity) is a metropolitan area in Poland formed of Gdansk, Gdynia and the town of Sopot.
posted by Helga-woo at 3:34 PM on March 16, 2012


Thunder Bay, Ontario was the result of the amalgamation of the cities of Fort William and Port Arthur in 1970.
posted by hangashore at 4:06 PM on March 16, 2012


Dallas annexed Oak Cliff a little over a hundred years ago.

Fort Worth annexed Handley back in the 1940s.

I can't seem to find the link on the FW Star-Telegram website, but there was an article recently about a proposed merger of Richland Hills & North Richland Hills.
posted by AMSBoethius at 5:23 PM on March 16, 2012


Previously
posted by djb at 6:15 PM on March 16, 2012


Indianapolis has a weird system called Unigov, where the city expanded in the 1970s to take up all of Marion county, merging the city and county governments into one entity. This swallowed some towns in the process but left some others (Speedway, Lawrence, Southport, Homecroft, Beech Grove, etc.) embedded and semi-independent.
posted by double block and bleed at 10:17 PM on March 16, 2012


Well, sort of - that is the current city of Toronto, not the Greater Toronto Area.
You're right. I stand corrected.
I shouldn't post in a hurry from work!
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 10:58 PM on March 16, 2012


Unigov, as mentioned, is a type of what in the US is generally called "metro" or "consolidated" government. The canonical example is Jacksonville, Florida. It works best when one city is large enough that the county is a sort of unmanageable rump or lots of mutual exclaves.

In many ways it resembles the practical effect of the New York City outer borough merger. Basically, the local entities may retain their political identity and even some services and powers, but things like, say, road maintenance or sanitation are done by a single agency.

A local city merger is Milton, Wisconsin. Originally Milton was formed along a territorial road. When the railroad came through, though, it was about a mile west, and thus there were two villages -- Milton and Milton Junction. They grew together, and finally merged about a generation ago, but there are still two downtowns for this small city.

My own city, Janesville, incorporates land that was platted for three other cities, none of which was ever chartered. There were many such "paper towns" as settlement and land speculation moved West. These aren't, per se, mergers, but in this case you can still see a park and street grid from one of those plats, intersecting awkwardly with the downtown at an angle because the city was along a river and had to go parallel to the bluffs.
posted by dhartung at 11:52 PM on March 16, 2012


My city, Fremont, is a combination of five towns. Niles and Irvington retain large signs marking their territories (Irvington has huge brushed metal signs, and Niles has big white letters on a foothill).

Japan goes through these spasms of town mergers. Some of my friends have complained about the loss of their local identity. Wikipedia has lists by prefecture -- at any rate, my map from 15 years ago is out of date. Sure, some of these are examples of modern sprawl, but not all of them.
posted by wintersweet at 6:13 PM on March 17, 2012


Kamloops BC is the result of a merger the city of North Kamloops (which is where the original Fort was) and the south shore city Kamloops in 1967. Then in 1973 the outlying towns of Valleyview, Brocklehurst, Rayleigh, Barnharvale and Dufferin were added plus a big chunk of unincorporated areas to make the city contiguous.
posted by Mitheral at 7:21 PM on March 17, 2012


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