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French geographer Jean Gottmann (1915-1994) studied the northeastern United States during the 1950s and published a book in 1961 that described the region as a vast metropolitan area over 300 miles long stretching from Boston in the north to Washington, D.C. in the south.
This area (and the title of Gottmann's book) is "Megalopolis."
Gottmann's Megalopolis (sometimes referred to as BosWash for the northern and southern tips of the area) is a very large functional urban region that "provides the whole of America with so many essential services, of the sort a community used to obtain in its 'downtown' section, that it may well deserve the nickname of 'Main Street of the nation.'" (Gottmann, 8)
The Megalopolitan area of BosWash is a governmental center, banking center, media center, academic center, and until recently, an immigration center (a position usurped by Los Angeles in recent years).
The 1950 Census defined many Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs contains a core city of at least 50.000 and at least on eadjoining county meeting the appropriate functional criteria ) in Megalopolis and, in fact, MSAs formed an unbroken entity from southern New Hampshire to northern Virginia. Since the 1950 Census, the Census Bureau's designation of individual counties as metropolitan has expanded as has the population of the region. In 1950, Megalopolis had a population of 32 million, today the metropolitan area includes more than 44 million people, approximately 16% of the entire U.S. population. Four of the seven largest CMSAs (Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Areas) in the U.S. are part of Megalopolis and are responsible for over 38 million of Megalopolis' population (the four are New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, Washington-Baltimore, Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City, and Boston-Worcester-Lawrence). New york (1990) recorded as City (7.3 million); PMSA (17million); CMSA (19.3 million).