The Origin, Evolution, and Application of the Megapolitan Area Concept

Robert E. Lang, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Jaewon Lic, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Karen A. Danielsen, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


The article explores the origin and evolution of the ‘megapolitan concept', the idea of a super-sized region that began in 1961 in Jean Gottmann's ‘megalopolis,' which he developed to explain large-scale urbanization in the Northeastern U.S. Jerome Picard, a researcher at the Urban Land Institute took up the megalopolis idea in 1967 and applied it to the entire U.S. and projected large-scale urban growth to 2000. The Regional Plan Association (RPA) also applied the megalopolis concept to The Second Regional Plan for New York in 1968. Lang in 2000s, then working with his colleagues at Virginia Tech developed the megapolitan concept and definition-in part to differential the concept from work being done by the University of Pennsylvania for RPA. Lang defined ‘megapolitan clusters’ as multiple megapolitan areas that are networked either by commuting, logistics, or dense air links, but where there is no more than three times the distance used to define a Megapolitan Area between anchor metropolitan areas at their furthest distance. The recent evolution of megapolitan area and megapolitan cluster concepts by Lang and the colleagues is applied to a series of projects, including ‘Sun Corridor’ in 2006 (Phoenix-Tucson) and the Southwest Triangle (SoCal-Sun Corridor-Las Vegas) in 2014. The article ends with the future application of megapolitan area concept in the rapidly growing Southwest Triangle megapolitan cluster.