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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 1:41 AM
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Why are many major cities at or near an extreme location in each state?

New York City is at the southernmost point of New York State. Chicago is in Northern Illinois. Detroit is in Southern Michigan. Boston is located in Eastern Massachusetts. LA and Miami are at the southernmost parts of their states as well and etc.

I know geographical features had something to do with many of these, but I’m curious to hear if there are other reasons for this being so.
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 1:44 AM
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Older states in the east often had state boundaries determined by rivers and other bodies of water, and cities really liked being near navigable water in the olden days, so the big cities were often found at the edges of the states. Out west, these issue weren't at play as much, so you ended up with cities like Denver and Phoenix smack dab in the middle of a relatively arbitrary rectangle.
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 1:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jd3189 View Post
New York City is at the southernmost point of New York State. Chicago is in Northern Illinois. Detroit is in Southern Michigan. Boston is located in Eastern Massachusetts. LA and Miami are at the southernmost parts of their states as well and etc.

I know geographical features had something to do with many of these, but I’m curious to hear if there are other reasons for this being so.
Many political boundaries exist because of politics, but that's not the only reason, of course geography plays a role as well.

But why do we have/need a Rhode Island/Delaware today when we have a California/Texas?
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 1:53 AM
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Many political boundaries exist because of politics, but that's not the only reason, of course geography plays a role as well.

But why do we have/need a Rhode Island/Delaware today when we have a California/Texas?
Rhode Island and Delaware were sovereign entities prior to the formation of the US with pre-established boundaries drawn up during the colonial era. Modern Texas was what was left over after the Republic of Texas split from Mexico and joined the US. California was carved out of the Mexican Cession.
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 2:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
Older states in the east often had state boundaries determined by rivers and other bodies of water, and cities really liked being near navigable water in the olden days, so the big cities were often found at the edges of the states. Out west, these issue weren't at play as much, so you ended up with cities like Denver and Phoenix smack dab in the middle of a relatively arbitrary rectangle.
Phoenix was founded along the Salt River in a fertile valley, a location that was pre-historically occupied by native peoples (they disappeared in the 1400s or so if I remember right). It was founded before Arizona was a state and the final state lines were set.
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 2:42 AM
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 2:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jd3189 View Post
New York City is at the southernmost point of New York State. Chicago is in Northern Illinois. Detroit is in Southern Michigan. Boston is located in Eastern Massachusetts. LA and Miami are at the southernmost parts of their states as well and etc.

I know geographical features had something to do with many of these, but I’m curious to hear if there are other reasons for this being so.
Isn't it obvious? Water is the reason for their existence, either for travel or as a drinking supply, or both.

Name the biggest city you can that is not its size because of water. Now that's a tough question.
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 2:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
Older states in the east often had state boundaries determined by rivers and other bodies of water, and cities really liked being near navigable water in the olden days, so the big cities were often found at the edges of the states. Out west, these issue weren't at play as much, so you ended up with cities like Denver and Phoenix smack dab in the middle of a relatively arbitrary rectangle.
Denver was founded at the confluence of two prairie rivers where gold was found. It grew as a city because of the gold mines in the nearby mountains and access to the railroads. When Colorado became a state in 1876 Denver just happened to be in a central location and as the largest city it made sense to be the state capitol.
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 3:04 AM
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It's common for cities to be on large bodies of water (lakes, oceans, big rivers). It is also common to use those natural boundaries as political boundaries.
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 4:18 AM
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Also political boundaries may reflect expansion over time. One side of a state may have been walled in by a more established neighbor, and the frontier border was more aspirational with less people living out that way.

The 13 colonies seem like a good example of this.
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 4:38 AM
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Originally Posted by xzmattzx View Post
Isn't it obvious? Water is the reason for their existence, either for travel or as a drinking supply, or both.

Name the biggest city you can that is not its size because of water. Now that's a tough question.
True, but that doesn’t explain fully why many of them are at an extreme location in their state.

For example, NYC would have easily been in a more central location within NYS had it combined with NJ with the Hudson not being a state boundary. Same could be said for Chicago if Illinois was able to gain more land from Wisconsin and Indiana. San Francisco seems to be the odd one out since it’s pretty centrally located in California.

And I’m curious about other countries that also have this characteristic. Many European major cities are far enough from the border between countries I assume (London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Moscow, Berlin, etc).
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 5:25 AM
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In Chicago's case it is in Illinois because Illinois was concerned that the original proposal for the state boundaries would deprive it of a port on the great lakes. So the boundary was drawn to include just a sliver of the Lake Michigan shoreline including what would eventually become Chicago. At one point Wisconsin territory would have encompassed Chicago as well which would have transformed Wisconsin into something of a "big 5" state with 17+ million residents. Talk about alternate history.

That that same time Wisconsin territory was to include Upper Michigan as well, but that was broken off and added to Michigan because they were concerned about a lack of mineral resources. If things had remained the way they were proposed Wisconsin would be THE Midwestern juggernaut.


Chicago, Wisconsin:

https://www-dnainfo-com.cdn.ampproje...order-illinois

Bow to your overlord, Mega Wisconsin:



In all seriousness, this is illustrative of how these cities end up situated where they do in states.
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 11:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BG918 View Post
Denver was founded at the confluence of two prairie rivers where gold was found. It grew as a city because of the gold mines in the nearby mountains and access to the railroads. When Colorado became a state in 1876 Denver just happened to be in a central location and as the largest city it made sense to be the state capitol.

kshs.org

here’s how kansas territory was when denver was founded (overlain state boundaries). if they had left kansas boundaries as such, denver would have been on the edge. the front range was a sort of “coast” in a way.
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by LouisVanDerWright View Post
In Chicago's case it is in Illinois because Illinois was concerned that the original proposal for the state boundaries would deprive it of a port on the great lakes. So the boundary was drawn to include just a sliver of the Lake Michigan shoreline including what would eventually become Chicago. At one point Wisconsin territory would have encompassed Chicago as well which would have transformed Wisconsin into something of a "big 5" state with 17+ million residents. Talk about alternate history.

That that same time Wisconsin territory was to include Upper Michigan as well, but that was broken off and added to Michigan because they were concerned about a lack of mineral resources. If things had remained the way they were proposed Wisconsin would be THE Midwestern juggernaut.


Chicago, Wisconsin:

https://www-dnainfo-com.cdn.ampproje...order-illinois

Bow to your overlord, Mega Wisconsin:

[IMG]https://wpr-public.s3.amazonaws[IMG][/IMG].com/wprorg/styles/resp_orig_custom_user_mobile_1x/s3/s3fs-public/field/image/map.jpg?itok=4khc9jPQ&timestamp=1448913960[/IMG]

In all seriousness, this is illustrative of how these cities end up situated where they do in states.
speaking of juggernaughts, heres missouri territory when st. louis had all of this to administer (slowly backhands mega-wisconsin against the ceiling as it strides into the room ):
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 1:10 PM
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New Mexico Territory [Arizona, Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Colorado]:



Like I said, political boundaries exist because of politics and at times physical geographical features, like rivers.
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 3:32 PM
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Are there any examples of cities being founded specifically based on their centrality within a state that have since become major cities because of it? In and of itself it's not really a compelling reason for a city to succeed. Most cities also pre-date the modern iteration of their state anyway.
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 4:08 PM
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Originally Posted by MonkeyRonin View Post
Are there any examples of cities being founded specifically based on their centrality within a state that have since become major cities because of it? In and of itself it's not really a compelling reason for a city to succeed. Most cities also pre-date the modern iteration of their state anyway.
Tallahassee. Picked as Midway point between St. Augustine and Pensacola. There wasn't much in South Florida at the time.
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 4:19 PM
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Are there any examples of cities being founded specifically based on their centrality within a state that have since become major cities because of it? In and of itself it's not really a compelling reason for a city to succeed. Most cities also pre-date the modern iteration of their state anyway.
both columbus and indianapolis were founded as state capitals specifically based on their centrality within their respective states, and both have since become major cities of their states.

illinois attempted the same thing with springfield, but the chicago juggernaut eventually proved to be far too powerful to overcome.
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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 4:22 PM
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the northwest is based off the columbia river. also the oregon trail, people saw paintings of the river and oregon and out east things werent going well so people headed west. or something like that. now its been almost 200 years and oregon the nw is still pretty, theres a bunch of problems but the whole world is kinda having trouble. anyways heres a pic.

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Old Posted Sep 12, 2019, 4:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jd3189 View Post
New York City is at the southernmost point of New York State. Chicago is in Northern Illinois. Detroit is in Southern Michigan. Boston is located in Eastern Massachusetts. LA and Miami are at the southernmost parts of their states as well and etc.

I know geographical features had something to do with many of these, but I’m curious to hear if there are other reasons for this being so.
Detroit's position to the Ohio border is incidental. Toledo's position relative to the Michigan/Ohio border is the more interesting story, and it was supposed to be part of Michigan. Michigan and Ohio went to "war" over control of Toledo. Michigan won...

The simple answer to why Detroit is directly on the U.S./Canadian border is because the Americans won the battles against the British that decided control of Fort Detroit, and Fort Detroit was located on the western side of the river.
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