Chapter 9: Towards a megaregional future: analysing progress, assessing priorities in the US megaregion project
For the first time in recorded history the majority of the planet’s population resides in cities. In the United States alone, nearly two-thirds of Americans are projected to live in urbanized areas by the year 2050 (Yaro, 2005). This will not just be in urban centres, for ‘most of the nation’s population growth and an even larger share of its economic expansion will occur in ten or more emerging megaregions’ (Regional Plan Association, 2006, p. 12). As the US population migrates towards these urban regions, the 21st century is poised to become the ‘century of the city’ on both a national and a global scale (Peirce et al., 2008). The implications for this (re)inhabitation of the city are profound. Water resources will become increasingly stretched and denuded while aging and under-built infrastructural systems will need to be reconsidered in entirely new and innovative configurations. Meanwhile, the American promise of social mobility – seen by many to be dependent on access to quality education and high-wage employment – will become more and more difficult to fulfill. Complicating matters is what Rybczynski (2010) recently referred to as the ‘makeshift metropolis’, a term which can be considered in this context as a description for the fractious, often ad-hoc, nature of highly localized planning in the US.
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