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Old October 8th, 2014, 02:08 AM   #1
Buffaboy
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Question Cities vs. towns vs. townships

One thing about certain regions in the U.S. is that these regions contain either more cities than towns, or more towns than cities.

So as an example, I observed this with the Buffalo-Niagara region and the Greater Cleveland region. Right off the bat I already knew the Buffalo area had many more towns than cities, and a complete list is given on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffal...an_area#Cities. From there you can see there are 7 cities and 37 towns.

In Cleveland however it is almost the opposite. In Cuyahoga County, there are 38 cities and 3 towns. The trend isn't exactly followed in Lake County, Geauga County or Medina County, but Lorain County seems to have almost a 1:2 ratio of municipalities defined as "cities" to municipalities defined as "townships." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greate...C_and_villages

Therefore, the question resulting from this is what exactly is a "city," and what is a "town" or "township?"

When we look at population, random cities in the Cleveland area such as Brook Park, have a population of only 20,000 residents. North Olmstead, a busy commercial area from what I recall, has a population of 32,000 residents.

Switching to Buffalo, the largest town in the area is the town of Amherst, with 122,000 residents.

Another large town, Hamburg, has a population of almost 60,000 residents, but it is classified as a "town."

Here is the definition of a city, according to Webster's dictionary:

city noun, often attributive \ˈsi-tē\
: a place where people live that is larger or more important than a town
: an area where many people live and work

So if a city is "larger or more important than a town," then why are large towns that should be cities often classified as towns while small cities that should be towns are often classified as "cities?"

EDIT: One of my favorite Buffalo comparisons, Nashville, has a similar setup to Cleveland even though the metro area is somewhat similar to Buffalo in terms of size.

Edit 2: Another close comparison, Tulsa, shares the same setup as Cleveland and Nashville. I've yet to see a setup like Buffalo's. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulsa_...Largest_Cities
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Last edited by Buffaboy; October 8th, 2014 at 02:21 AM.
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Old October 8th, 2014, 03:30 AM   #2
Otto Racecar
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My understanding is that in Ohio the designation works like this:

Town is just an informal name for a village or city. As an example: My hometown is Columbus or Granville is a great town.

A city in ohio must have 5,000 or more residents within the city limits.

A village has less then 5,000 residents but must have at least 1,600 in population. While this is the current minimum,villages that were incorporated prior to the law still remain designated as villages. If a village reaches 5,000 or more in population their designation changes to that of a city and vice versa.

Townships in Ohio are unincorporated areas with residents located within their boundaries. Often times they are located in rural or suburban areas of the state. In ohio the township's jurisdiction dissolves if it becomes completely encompassed by a village or city.If it is only partially encompassed then it still functions along with the village or city. You often see joint fire departments in small towns or agreements that the township fire department will take care of the village issues or vice versa for a fee. There are certain townships that have been completely encompassed and remain in name only. It sometimes works as a way to designate local representation for different areas of a village or city.

It should be noted that these designations effect state funding as well as other issues such as collective bargaining. Hopefully this helps.
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Old October 8th, 2014, 04:15 AM   #3
xzmattzx
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Townships (called Towns in New York, and maybe elsewhere) are subsections of county government. They are kind of like the counties of counties, like how counties subdivide states. It's the next level down from county. Cities and villages (boroughs in Pennsylvania, maybe elsewhere) are incorporated, which is slightly different than townships.

Maybe Buffalo doesn't have many cities and villages because everyone in the area lived in Buffalo in the early 1900s. The other industrial areas, Niagara Falls, Lackawanna, Tonawanda, North Tonawanda, and Lockport, incorporated. Most other places were too small to be more than villages. There's some streetcar suburbs on that list of villages: Kenmore and Sloan, and maybe Williamsville.

The big thing to look at are state laws. State laws differ in incorporation. For instance, in New England states, you're either a city or a town (/township). The cities are towns/townships that have incorporated. There are no villages, or anything smaller than cities but incorporated like cities.
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Old October 8th, 2014, 05:54 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto Racecar View Post
My understanding is that in Ohio the designation works like this:

Town is just an informal name for a village or city. As an example: My hometown is Columbus or Granville is a great town.

A city in ohio must have 5,000 or more residents within the city limits.

A village has less then 5,000 residents but must have at least 1,600 in population. While this is the current minimum,villages that were incorporated prior to the law still remain designated as villages. If a village reaches 5,000 or more in population their designation changes to that of a city and vice versa.

Townships in Ohio are unincorporated areas with residents located within their boundaries. Often times they are located in rural or suburban areas of the state. In ohio the township's jurisdiction dissolves if it becomes completely encompassed by a village or city.If it is only partially encompassed then it still functions along with the village or city. You often see joint fire departments in small towns or agreements that the township fire department will take care of the village issues or vice versa for a fee. There are certain townships that have been completely encompassed and remain in name only. It sometimes works as a way to designate local representation for different areas of a village or city.

It should be noted that these designations effect state funding as well as other issues such as collective bargaining. Hopefully this helps.
Quote:
Originally Posted by xzmattzx View Post
Townships (called Towns in New York, and maybe elsewhere) are subsections of county government. They are kind of like the counties of counties, like how counties subdivide states. It's the next level down from county. Cities and villages (boroughs in Pennsylvania, maybe elsewhere) are incorporated, which is slightly different than townships.

Maybe Buffalo doesn't have many cities and villages because everyone in the area lived in Buffalo in the early 1900s. The other industrial areas, Niagara Falls, Lackawanna, Tonawanda, North Tonawanda, and Lockport, incorporated. Most other places were too small to be more than villages. There's some streetcar suburbs on that list of villages: Kenmore and Sloan, and maybe Williamsville.

The big thing to look at are state laws. State laws differ in incorporation. For instance, in New England states, you're either a city or a town (/township). The cities are towns/townships that have incorporated. There are no villages, or anything smaller than cities but incorporated like cities.
This makes a lot of sense. Cleveland seems to have had large sizable suburbs back then and Buffalo seemed to be concentrated around the cities aforementioned. I bet that was the case in Nashville too.

The federal funds thing seems interesting too.
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Old October 10th, 2014, 05:24 AM   #5
hudkina
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In Michigan there are two types of townships, a regular civil township which is basically a sub-unit of county government with a certain, limited number of rights. Then you have a charter township, which is basically a city in everything but name. A charter township has essentially all the rights and privileges of a city, but never incorporated as such.

The entire state of Michigan is divided into either cities or townships. There is nothing that dictates what a city is. You have cities with barely more than a dozen people and you have townships with 100,000 people. Many former townships have incorporated into cities. For example, the City of Livonia started out as Livonia Township. What's funny is that there is a city called Novi in Michigan that basically incorporated from Novi TWP, however a tiny section in the center of the township voted against incorporating into the City of Novi, so you have a tiny little node called Novi Township surrounded by the massive City of Novi.
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