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Globalization’s New Urban Form?

Edited by John Harrison and Michael Hoyler

By critically assessing the opportunities and challenges posed by planning and governing at the megaregional scale, this innovative book examines the latest conceptualizations of trans-metropolitan landscapes. In doing so, it seeks to uncover whether megaregions are a meaningful new spatial framework for the analysis of cities in globalization. Situated within the broader contours of global urban analysis, the book draws together a range of thought-provoking contributions from scholars engaged in the study of trans-metropolitan regions. It thereby provides multiple paths of access for those wishing to familiarize themselves with this topical area of global urban studies.
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Chapter 6: Conflicting spaces of governance in the imagined Great Lakes megaregion

Michael R. Glass


Almost no one favors metropolitan area government except a few political scientists and intellectuals. Proposals to replace suburban governments completely are therefore doomed. That is why fewer than a dozen or so metropolitan areas have regional governments. (Downs, 1994, p. 170) The megaregion concept provides a compelling vision for the way that spatial relations in the US are structured, with advocates proposing that they could form the basis for cooperative integrated planning (Hagler, 2009). Interest in megaregions has grown in recent years and not only in the US, as the other contributions to this volume make clear. The megaregion is thus deserving of considerable scrutiny: especially if proponents like Sudjic (1992), Ross (2009), Lang and Knox (2009) are correct in suggesting that the era of the 100 mile metroplex is close at hand. Characterized by polycentricity, interconnectivity and other tangible and intangible forms of cohesion, the megaregion is considered as a planning framework and as a conceptual device to understand the reassertion of a new type of modernity (Lang and Knox, 2009). Despite the growing interest in categorizing the megaregion concept, the notion of the megaregion as a space for coordinated planning shares much in common with other utopic planning visions like Howard’s Garden City model, or the 1927 Regional Plan for a metropolitan ‘greater’ New York – both of which proposed broader spatial units for urban management under the premise that modern urbanism involves problems which are resistant to management at more fragmented scales.

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