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Population concentration in United States city-systems from 1790 to 2000: historical trends and current phases


  • Samuel M. Otterstrom


Among the industrialised nations of the world, the USA has a relatively short history of urbanisation. This fact and the ready availability of reliable historical data have made the USA a fertile place for studying the nature of urban and regional growth from its earliest beginnings. This paper analyses the patterns of city and hinterland, or city-system, population concentration in the United States from 1790 to 2000. The Hoover index is employed to calculate population concentration in 46 city-systems for each federal census. A model showing three phases in city-system population concentration is proposed. Recent population trends are then used to map the current concentration phases of the US city-systems. Much of the central part of the country and the mountain west should concentrate in population during the next decade while many of the Northeastern, Florida, and Californian city-systems are more likely to experience population deconcentration. Copyright (c) 2003 by the Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG.

Suggested Citation

  • Samuel M. Otterstrom, 2003. "Population concentration in United States city-systems from 1790 to 2000: historical trends and current phases," Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG, vol. 94(4), pages 477-495, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:tvecsg:v:94:y:2003:i:4:p:477-495

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. L Long & A Nucci, 1997. "The 'clean break' revisited: is US population again deconcentrating?," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 29(8), pages 1355-1366, August.
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