Urban incorporation by way of a bridge?
January 24, 2010 11:44 AM   Subscribe

What cities have incorporated other cities by means of a bridge?

I'm looking at building a list of cities that have incorporated other cities after some sort of transportation link was established between the two. This link doesn't need to be an actual bridge—it could be a tunnel, road, causeway, ferry, etc.

Similarly, when I say "incorporated," I don't necessarily mean that the cities have formally incorporated. It might very well be as informal as when the primary city's name is said, the other city is also implied (by virtue of the bridge).

Two notable examples include:

New York (Manhattan—Brooklyn) and
London (City of London—Southwark)

Both of these examples are formal incorporations following the completion of an actual bridge.
posted by viewofdelft to Travel & Transportation (39 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Danforth was a collection of small suburban towns before the building of the Prince Edward Viaduct in 1919.

Now, it's pretty much part of Downtown Toronto.
posted by 256 at 11:47 AM on January 24, 2010

Liverpool - Birkenhead?
posted by Sova at 11:50 AM on January 24, 2010

Best answer: Budapest?

(It's unclear to me if the merging of two cities - Buda and Pest - exactly counts, since I don't know if one "took over" the other. I also don't know if the merging happened because of bridges, or if it was a result of political/military forces.)
posted by rtha at 12:03 PM on January 24, 2010

Dallas/Fort Worth?
New Orleans/Metarie?
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:08 PM on January 24, 2010

posted by ewiar at 12:09 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: These are all great answers. Budapest is exemplary in that neither Buda nor Pest "took over" the other but they instead became one city in 1873 following the completion of the Széchenyi Chain Bridge in 1849. Perfect!

Keep 'em coming.
posted by viewofdelft at 12:11 PM on January 24, 2010

Best answer: Boston - between reclaimed land, bridges across the Charles/Mystic/Neponset Rivers, and a spreading road system many of the surrounding towns have either been annexed into Boston proper (South Boston, East Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Brighton, West Roxbury, Charlestown, Hyde Park) or are lumped in as 'might as well be Boston' (Winthrop, Revere, Chelsea, Everett, Somerville, Cambridge, Watertown, Newton, Brookline, Needham, Dedham, Canton, Milton, Quincy).
posted by pupdog at 12:11 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Newcastle - Gateshead (though the history is much longer and quite complex)

And just to show the opposite, the town of Barton-upon-Humber was expected to become well incorporated into the economy/geography of Kingston-upon-Hull when the Humber Bridge was built, but it never happened. The two places are still very distinct, and nobody would count Barton as "part" of Hull.
posted by Sova at 12:14 PM on January 24, 2010

Best answer: Halifax/Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:18 PM on January 24, 2010

Dallas and Fort Worth are distinctly separate cities, and don't have any transportation links beyond roads and a light rail line, so I don't think they're a good example of what the OP is looking for.
posted by MadamM at 12:25 PM on January 24, 2010

Response by poster: Without getting too deep into it, my understanding is that the informal incorporation of Dallas and Fort Worth is due in large part to the international airport, DFW, which is equidistant between the two urban centers. They are joined by a node, not a route, which makes that metro area a particularly interesting case.
posted by viewofdelft at 12:35 PM on January 24, 2010

Best answer: Ottawa-Hull (or the National Capital Region)
posted by smcniven at 12:38 PM on January 24, 2010

Best answer: The city of Los Angeles (not the greater area / county) has a great map that can be seen here. There are many communities that are not in the city, but are in Los Angeles county, and are commonly called LA. They have been merged by freeways and growth. But the main reason I brought up LA is the "bridge" between the downtown area and the port, which might be like what you are looking for.
posted by cjemmott at 12:44 PM on January 24, 2010

I think that any city anywhere that has incorporated neighbouring communities would, broadly, be examples. If you limited it to bridges you might get more interesting answers.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 12:48 PM on January 24, 2010

Best answer: Cleveland, Ohio, annexed Ohio City, the smaller municipality on the other side of the Cuyahoga River, in 1854:


A couple decades before the annexation, the two cities almost got into a violent confrontation over the building of bridges on the river.
posted by chengjih at 12:51 PM on January 24, 2010

I don't think the residents of Cambridge and Boston would consider themselves one city. They have distinct governance and separate identities. Same goes for Boston and many of the "might as well be Boston" links above. I'd single out Newton as a striking example in that some parts of it are on the T's green line or the Mass Pike and might kind of be considered part of Boston, while other parts are definitely suburbs. By the time you're out to Route 128 near Wellesley, you're no longer remotely in Boston, but you're still in Newton.

Boston and surrounding cities have an identity that's more like "San Francisco Bay Area," which is strongly interconnected by bridge and tunnel and rail and ferry but with well known distinct cities (Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco).
posted by zippy at 12:56 PM on January 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Richmond, VA (north side of the James River) annexed the city of Manchester (south) in 1910.
posted by john m at 12:59 PM on January 24, 2010

Response by poster: Ethnomethodologist, I thought about keeping it just to bridges but I couldn't shake the feeling I'd leave out cities that were connected across land via roads. The Los Angeles answer from cjemmott is perfect in that regard.

On the other hand, zippy is right that strong transportation networks facilitate tight conurbations. I'd prefer answers that emphasize less a network and more a straight-line transportation route between cities.
posted by viewofdelft at 1:03 PM on January 24, 2010

Cities that are in different countries are an interesting example, such as Niagara Falls (NY and ON), Windsor/Detroit, Lewiston NY/Queenston ON and Sault Ste Marie (UP and ON).
posted by saucysault at 1:05 PM on January 24, 2010

Best answer: Pittsburgh and Allegheny City? Allegheny City existed as a concept as early as 1788, but didn't incorporate as a city until 1840. There were a few bridges across the Allegheny River in the early 1800s, and Pittsburgh didn't start eyeballing the land in Allegheny City until it became easy to get from one to the other. Allegheny City doesn't "exist" anymore, and I doubt most people in Pittsburgh remember that it used to be its own place. Most people call it the North Side now.
posted by arabelladragon at 1:17 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wiki has a list of border towns that you may find interesting. I originally was thinking of Derry, (Northern Ireland) and Bogside but I am not sure if Bogside was a separate town or just more of a neighbourhood that sprung up when Catholics were not welcome in Derry.
posted by saucysault at 1:22 PM on January 24, 2010

Best answer: You want bridges? Oh, we've got bridges. Here goes...

The north side of Pittsburgh used to be an independent town, Allegheny City, which was separated from Pittsburgh by the Allegheny river. The first wooden bridge between the two was built in 1875. In 1907, Pittsburgh annexed Allegheny City — rather forcefully; the Allegheny residents tried to prevent it but were outnumbered and outvoted by the Pittsburghers — and immediately tore the wooden bridge down to build a metal one.

Further upstream on the Allegheny are a number of small towns that were never formally annexed but that are socially and economically part of Pittsburgh. I'm not even talking about suburbs; these are densly populated old mill towns, and by now some of them are more industrial that Pittsburgh itself. But I'd lived in the area for years, for instance, before I realized that Millvale was an independent small town and not just another funny little neighborhood crammed off to one side between a few hills. It's connected to Pittsburgh proper by the 40th Street bridge, although I don't know the history around when that was built.

Similarly, Homestead to the south (across the Monongahela river, connected to the city by the Homestead and Glenwood bridges) and McKees Rocks to the west (across the Ohio, connected by the McKees Rocks bridge) are de jure independent, but de facto part of the city, and definitely urban rather than suburban.

Last but not least, there are a number of valleys and ravines within the city that are deep enough to need bridges spanning them. For instance, downtown Pittsburgh and the adjacent neighborhood of Oakland are cut off from the parts of the city further east by two huge ravines. These used to represent the eastern city limit, and even when the city expanded past them, the neighborhoods on the far side — Bloomfield on the one hand, Greenfield/Hazelwood and Squirrel Hill on the other — were apparently pretty isolated until bridges were built across them. Today, they're about as central and as tightly integrated with the rest of the city as it gets.

And then there's the funicular railroads (two of which are still in operation) that made it convenient to live on top of Mount Washington, and the tunnels under Mount Washington that connect downtown with the neighborhoods on the far side, and....

Well, anyway, the gist of it is that Pittsburgh is topologically weird as all hell, and come to think of it there's basically nowhere in the city that could have been developed without some kind of technological song-and-dance to connect it to the rest of the world.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:29 PM on January 24, 2010 [5 favorites]

Minneapolis/St. Paul?

On the flip side, I always thought is was weird that there are two separate Kansas Cities across the river from each other.
posted by minimii at 1:41 PM on January 24, 2010

Best answer: Bethlehem, PA merged with South Bethlehem (across the Lehigh River) in 1917.
posted by djb at 1:52 PM on January 24, 2010

Best answer: The Alberta (Canada) cities of Edmonton and Strathcona were connected by the Low Level Bridge, and construction of the High Level Bridge was under way, when the cities amalgamated in 1912.
posted by hangashore at 1:55 PM on January 24, 2010

posted by furtive at 4:10 PM on January 24, 2010

Cairo (Egypt) and the west bank city of Giza. They are not officially amalgamated but are treated as one (very large) city. It's why population estimates of Cairo vary so wildly (between 10 million and 18 million).
posted by scrute at 4:23 PM on January 24, 2010

That would be the west bank of the Nile, not THE West Bank.
posted by scrute at 4:23 PM on January 24, 2010

Clinton, Iowa and Fulton, Illinois.
Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA (not a great example).
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:51 PM on January 24, 2010

Best answer: Portland itself, however, is an example of this.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 5:31 PM on January 24, 2010

Forster-Tuncurry in NSW, Australia

Albury-Wodonga on the NSW/Victoria border in Australia. I don't think they are "officially" a merger city, because they are in two different states, but from the small time I've spent there they act as one.
posted by trialex at 7:00 PM on January 24, 2010

Best answer: Minneapolis/St. Paul?

More specifically, Minneapolis absorbed the original town of Saint Anthony, across what is now the Hennepin Avenue bridge, in the late 1800s.
posted by gimonca at 7:59 PM on January 24, 2010

Interesting to see what 'counts' or not. I don't think Liverpool and Birkenhead really work as a case of this, for example. I grew up in the northern suburbs of Liverpool, though boundary changes a few years before I was born had limited 'Liverpool' to the inner part of the conurbation. Still: roads, rail network, uninterrupted built-up areas, self-identification of myself and everyone I knew, and simple urban gravity all pointed to it being part of Liverpool, even if a different name was on our library cards, bins, schoolbooks. Birkenhead, on the other hand, although closer to Liverpool city centre (which it faces across the river Mersey--less than a mile, compared to four or five miles out to where I lived), always felt to me at least like a different town, nearby but separate. Like St Helens, a few miles inland: nearby, but separate, like a satellite with its own urban centre of gravity. And I have been to Birkenhead precisely twice in my life, as far as I can recall: we used the Mersey tunnels to get to the M53, occasionally to get to other places on the Wirral (relatives' house in Heswall, Helsby Hill, Red Rock Sands), but not to Birkenhead--because why would you go through a large city (Liverpool) and under a river estuary to get to a much smaller town centre (Birkenhead)?

Any Birkenhead-based MeFites might disagree with this analysis. But my grandma always referred to places on the Wirral as 'over the water', as if it were a foreign country (which, as a small child, I assumed it was).

More grandly, I think Giza, despite administrative separation, is definitely part of Cairo (certainly how I felt when I was living there, and I think this goes for most Egyptians too--I seem to recall that it's called Cairo Zoo despite being in Giza, for example). Istanbul is definitely all Istanbul despite being bisected, far more dramatically than Cairo and the Nile, by the Bosphorus. This was the case even before the bridge was built, or the soon-to-open metro line underneath. Manhattan, notwithstanding the views of some of its residents, is not the Island Of New York... but I don't know when the five boroughs were incorporated, and whether it predated the building of bridges (surely yes in the case of Staten Island, at least).

Meanwhile, in Paris, 'Paris' is a kernel of a couple of million people at the centre of a conurbation of nearly twelve million. But to most people who live inside the boulevard péripérique, and to quite a lot of the people in the rest of the agglomeration, that ring-road might as well be the Hudson or the East River.

So, er... what makes a town one town?

I've strayed off-topic--sorry! Thread got me thinking. (Again: living just inside the périph, with the bizarre sense that I was out near the rim of the earth's disc, used to have the same effect.)
posted by lapsangsouchong at 8:01 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

that ring-road might as well be the Hudson or the East River

Or, indeed, for some, a great burning trench many miles wide.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 8:03 PM on January 24, 2010

Eugene-Springfield, Oregon
El Paso-Juarez (interesting due to the international aspect) Downtown it is hard to tell what side of the border you are on
posted by bartonlong at 8:37 PM on January 24, 2010

Response by poster: Let me reiterate that I'm only interested in cities that became "incorporated after the completion of a transportation link (though not necessarily because of this new link; these things can be difficult to prove, after all).

lapsangsouchong: I like that your grandma called Wirral "over the water." If I understand correctly, all the Mersey crossings are tunnels. Might their being out-of-sight have something to do with her putting Wirral out-of-mind?
posted by viewofdelft at 11:16 PM on January 24, 2010

Good question. I was about to say that I think it was more because she was born before they were built: in 1917, so she'd have been 17 by the time the Queensway tunnel was opened (1934) and in her fifties by the time the Kingsway tunnel opened in 1971 (dates from Wikipedia, but I think they're reliable). However, I'd forgotten the railway tunnel, which is much older (1886). So there might well be something in it.

Other possibilities: first, the 'classic' way to cross the river is, famously, to take the ferry--very much travelling 'over the water'. And second, the Mersey estuary is actually quite a significant body of water: although it's only about half a mile wide near the mouth, where the centre of Liverpool faces Birkenhead, it curves inland for more than twenty miles and is something like three miles wide at its widest point--so the Wirral gets further away as you go inland (the first bridges, rail and road, being between Widnes and Runcorn, nearly fifteen miles upstream of Liverpool city centre. Also Liverpool has a very large tidal difference. So there's a 'real' gap between Liverpool and the Wirral--far more than between London north and south of the Thames, or the left and right banks of Paris. (But perhaps not more than between the European and Asian sides of the Bosphorus.) With it being such a large tidal estuary, you can see why it would be 'over the water' rather than 'across the river'.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 5:36 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Kamloops, BC is separated from North Kamloops by the Thompson River. The first bridge connecting the two was built in 1901 and the two communities were amalgamated in 1967.
posted by Mitheral at 7:21 AM on January 25, 2010

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