"...one doesn't require Census statistics to know that something major has happened in the United States. Travelers on airplanes simply need to sit by the window and keep their eyes open. From the air, the signs are everywhere .... One is rarely out of sight of a primary highway or a freeway, with its interchangeable interchanges, and most of the interchanges come equipped with one or a cluster of low, flat, slablike buildings (a shopping center, a small factory, a warehouse, who knows which?). One sees the neat little subdivisions with their proper setbacks and curvilinear streets and big driveways and little swimming pools; some even come with their own lakes and marinas. Along the sides of what used to be called 'farm-to-market' roads is a predictable spattering of split-level ranchers and immobile mobile homes...." (Lewis, 1983, p. 24)

These days, of course, the galactic metropolis can be seen in so many places around the world. This is what Allen Scott (2001) diagnoses as "global city-regions" -- cities integrated into dynamic transnational networks that often produce urbanization that spills across not just the traditional jurisdictional boundaries within nation-states, but also often crosses the boundaries of nation-states themselves. I love looking out for signs of continuity and change in the spatiality of the galactic metropolis. It's a breathtaking phenomenon when seen from the air. I always ask for a window seat. Sometimes I get lucky.

This is one view of one metropolis, from edge to center -- from the outlying suburbs of Chicago to the bright, high, shining "Loop" of downtown, December, 2010.


Peirce F. Lewis (1983). "The Galactic Metropolis." In Rutherford Platt and George Macinko, eds., Beyond the Urban Fringe. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 23-49.

Allen J. Scott, ed. (2001). Global City-Regions: Trends, Theory, Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press." />

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