Discussion in 'Alternate History Maps and Graphics' started by kodak, Jul 29, 2017.
That's the one!
They're not called towns because they're country. Towns are places with lots of buildings, and people live close together. Country is anywhere where people live far apart. In the Midwest, 2-4 farm houses in a square mile is quite common, and there are areas that are much more sparsely populated than that, and you can't call an area with 2-4 houses per square mile a town with a straight face.
City and town are legally synonymous in much of the US, with any incorporated town being called the city. When towns incorporate, they try to delineate borders that roughly correspond to where town ends and country begins, and humans don't tend to cluster together in neatly box-shaped areas; humans cluster together in blobs that stay close to major rivers and roads, so they are blotchy. Townships are the units for governing (or just marking off) areas where there is no town. There's often no reason to delineate them with complex shapes, and a 6-mile by 6-mile square township is an old English tradition that was favored by the Founding Fathers when they decided how to survey the northwest. A 6-mile township was practical because a country school and a township hall can be placed in the middle of it, and be a tolerable walk for a healthy child to get to the country school.
I agree with you about the little holes in the cities. Those needlessly complicate things. Those happen when cities expand their borders but leave some areas out of the expansion to appease people who don't want to be in the town.
How are things set up in New England?
Although some New England states have special municipalities (i.e. incorporated villages in Vermont), all of them share the same basic setup. Towns and cities are the main divisions of the land- we do have counties, but they're practically irrelevant and you'd never hear someone identify with their county; everyone identifies with their town, which usually has at least one rival. Counties are generally a bad way to indicate statistics, because most have a diverse array of municipalities whose differences get flushed away and skewed when judging them as a county. Also, a lot of times the towns of a county have limited association with each other if they're not close by; for example, I live in Norfolk County and I never venture out to towns on the western end like Bellingham, Franklin, and Wrentham simply because I have no reason to go there. The towns and cities do not overlap at all and have various shapes, although there are some that are relatively square. Square-shaped municipalities are a good indicator that you're in a more rural area, as more heavily-populated towns tend to have some kind of shape to them. However, these shapes are never really "crazy" and generally lack geographic anomalies, errors, and little enclaved holes. In Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, all the land is incorporated into either a city or a town; in New Hampshire and Vermont, the vast majority of land is incorporated and the only unincorporated areas are town-sized tracts that don't appear distinct on a map; leaving Maine as the only state with large tracts of unincorporated land. Every town and city has its own government, with towns typically having either open (everyone registered to vote can vote on matters) or representative (people vote on representatives to vote for their interests) town meetings, while cities have mayors and councils (not unlike other parts of the country). With the exception of the unincorporated tracts, even the smallest towns that only have a few people per square mile have town governments. You'd be hard-pressed to find places with absolutely nothing; almost every town has at least a few stores, a town hall, and an old church. In regards to territory, the towns vary greatly and most cases aren't the same. For example, my town has a mix of middle and working class neighborhoods, the town center, and a rural-ish western part with old expensive houses. The urban, suburban, and rural parts of a town do not have any legal distinction 95% of the time. Town centers are a staple of New England towns and are often a source of local pride, as they are often filled with historic buildings and local businesses (the number of chains in my town center can be counted with your fingers).
And in upstate New York, we get a mix of the two, with some towns looking like small New England towns, featuring local pride and a town center with old local businesses, and others lacking a town center and old buildings, instead being a collection of farms with chains and local businesses spread throughout.
I've heard about the direct democracy in several New England towns, and their nice town centers, and I find them both admirable. I'd like to see direct democracy in action in a town meeting someday.
In Minnesota where I'm from, you rarely see a farm inside of a town, and you'll rarely see a store in the country unless you're on a major highway, so the distinction between town and country is always quite plain to see. However, while most of our towns have town centers, they're rarely anything to brag about; a main street with a few stores, bars, and cafes, a post office, sometimes the library's there. The exceptions are tourist towns and some college towns, and maybe the Twin Cities but I'm not very familiar with that area.
We don't identify with our counties here either. The only place I've ever heard of people identifying with their counties is California. Do people do that in other places? In Minnesota, I don't think counties have any law-making power, but they have important roles in law enforcement and many other areas. Townships are administrative units of the areas where there's no incorporated city, and township boards consist of about 4 elected people who vote on road maintenance. I'm guessing they also have any authority on other things like floodwater mitigation and speed limits, but I moved to a city in another state when I was 18, so I never needed to learn the details. Since most (but not all) townships consist entirely of country, their councils usually consist of farmers. The buildings the the township boards meet in are legally called "town halls", possibly because of New England influence, but since most of them are distinctly in the country, nobody thinks of townships as towns. I always think it's silly to see a building that looks like a shed with the words "town hall" painted on it, on a country road 10 miles from a town, but I wasn't there when the lawyers decided to call them that.
People in the country don't identify with their township because they do their shopping and go to school in one of the nearest towns, so they generally identify with the town they or their kids go to school in. I grew up knowing the name of my township but I don't know if the other country kids in my class new their townships' names. Back when nearly every township had a grade school, I'm sure things were different.
There are unorganized areas that don't even have townships, usually swampy areas that have less than one person per square mile. The county is responsible for these areas. Even in the unorganized areas, there are often places known by township names, either because they used to be organized or because somebody once gave them names after the land was surveyed.
I've lived in North Dakota after that, and it seems that they have a similar arrangement, except the counties seem to matter even less.
Now I live in Washington, and am surprised to see that they don't have any townships here, any area that's unincorporated is governed directly by the county (which has a great deal of power), many towns with tens of thousands of people are unincorporated, most of the counties cover very large areas, and there are constant traffic jams. What this all amounts to is that many for many of Washington's people, if they have a pothole, they need to complain to somebody who's a two-hour drive away to discuss the possibility of fixing it. I also know of a couple interesting cases of towns-within-towns here, where one town was taken over by a larger town, but the smaller town still has its own "community council" that has the authority to decline to follow laws passed by the larger town's "city council". To me, that just sounds like one too many layers of local government, but it seems to work for them. Maybe they think it makes up for all the people here with one too few layers of local government; I don't know.
The Twin Cities is huge, so big that Hennepin and Ramsey counties don't even have townships, they're all just towns/cities. There's also the Met Council, which IIRC is a group of seven members selected by the governor to "rule over" the metro area, mostly deciding on transit improvements.
Townships were sort of a quasi-state between unincorporated and incorporated towns, but they are slowly disappearing near me, and counties are picking up more of the slack. Counties seems to have ordinances like most towns do, except fewer of them and they override any town ordinances, like the way state laws override them, or federal laws override state ones.
But yea, most people identify with the nearest town instead of township or county where I live. Either that or a further population center if it's more recognizable. (i.e. Glencoe if you live in Plato, Duluth if you live in Proctor, so forth and so on).
The Met Council only has 7 people in it? I always imagined it had like 40. I also didn't know that townships are disappearing in parts of Minnesota, but that's no surprise at all. Townships are an great governing system for a different time period. I suspect that the best solution to replacing townships would be for all the townships nearest the same town or within the same school district to merge. But the normal way of having counties pick up the slack has its simplicity. It could pose problem in a place like St. Louis County.
Pennsylvania has over 2500 towns, which is almost twice as many as New York and an order of magnitude more than Vermont. Alleghany County has 128!
128 in one county? Jeepers!
Awesome work, thank you :]
Can you make the ancestry map including NY and NJ?
A township-BAM featuring Pennsylvania, in all of its borough-filled beauty. The overly large size is required in order to have well-defined towns there.
Based off of this map.
I did notice while working with the source map that a couple of towns are missing in Pennsylvania, mostly ones that were enclaves inside larger cities.
That's good to know.
On closer inspection, there appear to be a few gaps in town borders as well.
this is amazing. *bump*
This will be great!
Hey, everyone. I'm ST15RM from the M-BAM thread. I'm interested in this map, and I want to help with it.
If you want me to help or do something like a state or county, please, just ask.
There are no townships in texas. Pick something else, I'm thinkin Delaware
We actually have a formal term for our disease in New Jersey, it is called "boroughitis"
It's symptoms are hair loss, stress and anxiety (from dealing with the hundreds of political peons) and bad eyesight, from trying to stare at maps like these and figure out what town is what.
Separate names with a comma.