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(mĕgəlŏp`lĭs) [Gr.,=great city], a group of densely populated metropolitan areas that combine to form an urban complex. It was first used in its modern sense by Jean Gottman (1957) to describe the huge urban area along the eastern seaboard of the United States from Boston to Washington, D.C. According to Gottman, it resulted from changes in work and social habits.
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A single vast urban area formed by the expansion and merging of adjacent cities and their suburbs.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a term signifying a group of conurbations; derived from the name of the ancient Greek city of Megalopolis, which arose as a result of the merger of more than 35 settlements of Arcadia.

The megalopolis is a highly urbanized, spontaneously evolving form of urban settlement in a number of highly developed capitalist countries; it has resulted from a high concentration of population. (Population density in megalopolises of the United States is 2.7 persons per hectare and in Japan, Great Britain, and the Federal Republic of Germany, 8-10 persons per hectare.) Basic features of the megalopolis are linear nature of construction, extended mainly along transport highways; general polycentric structure, caused by the interaction of large cities situated relatively close to one another; and disruption of the ecological balance between the activity of man and the environment. The term was first used to signify a continuous urban sprawl (more than 1,000 km long and in places up to 200 km wide) along the Atlantic coast of the USA—the conurbations of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington (population, 40 million). Some of the largest megalopolises that are now being formed are Southern California (12 million), Tokyo-Osaka in Japan (55 million), Rhine-Ruhr in the Federal Republic of Germany (10 million), and London-Liverpool in Great Britain (30 million).


Gottmann, J. “Megalopolis ili urbanizatsiia severo-vostochnogo poberezh’ia SShA.” Geografiia gorodov. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from English.)
Pokshishevskii, V. V., and V. M. Gokhman. “Problema giperurbanizatsii v razvitykh kapitalisticheskikh stranakh i ee geograficheskie aspekty.” Nauchnye problemy geografii naseleniia. Moscow, 1967.
Cutler, J. “Megalopolis: Intermetropolitan Coalescence.” Journal of Geography, 1969, vol. 68, no. 8.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

megalopolis, megapolis

A thickly populated urban region usually consisting of one or more large cities and surrounding suburbs.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.