Great Lakes Megalopolis

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Great Lakes Megalopolis
Megaregion of the U.S. and Canada
Country  United States,
Flag of Canada.svg Canada
Population 59,144,461

The Great Lakes Megalopolis consists of the group of North American metropolitan areas which surround the Great Lakes region and Saint Lawrence Seaway. It is mainly within the Midwestern United States, the Southern Ontario area of Canada, along with large parts of Pennsylvania, New York, and Quebec. It is the largest and most populated megalopolis in North America.

The region cuts a wide swath from Minneapolis to Pittsburgh and extends from the Duluth-Superior corridor, through the Green Bay-Kewaunee-Oconto corridor, the Milwaukee-Chicago corridor through the South Bend-Lansing-Kalamazoo corridor to the DetroitToledo corridor, and the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor and includes Cleveland, Akron, Erie, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Ottawa, and Buffalo, reaching as far east as Rochester and Johnstown, and as far west as the Twin Cities. The region had an estimated population of 59,144,461 as of 2011. It is projected to reach a population of approximately 65 million by 2025.

There is substantial overlap between the megalopolis and the once-heavily industrial region known as the Rust Belt; however, the megalopolis and the Rust Belt are not entirely coextensive, and some metropolitan areas may be considered part of one region but not the other.

History of the concept

Map of the emerging American-Canadian megaregions.

The region was partially outlined as an emergent megalopolis in the 1961 book Megalopolis: The Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the United States by French geographer Jean Gottmann. Gottmann envisaged the development of other megalopolies in the U.S.: BosWash, from Boston to Washington, D.C., Chipitts from Chicago to Pittsburgh, and SanSan, from San Francisco to San Diego. In 1965, Herman Kahn speculated about the future of the three megalopoleis in the year 2000,[1] referring to their names as "half-frivolous" and not mentioning Gottman. In the 1960s and 1970s, urban planner and architect Constantinos Doxiadis authored books, studies, and reports including those regarding the growth potential of the Great Lakes Megalopolis.[2] Doxiadis envisioned Detroit as the central urban area in the Great Lakes Megalopolis. According to him, the megalopolis extended "from Milwaukee and Chicago to Detroit, Pittsburgh and Buffalo and into Canada from Windsor to Montreal and Quebec."[2][3]

The Virginia Tech Metropolitan Institute's Beyond Megalopolis, an attempt to update Gottmann's work, outlined a similar "Midwest" megapolitan area as one of ten such areas in the United States (Canada is discussed tangentially).[4] Over 200 million tons of cargo are shipped annually through the Great Lakes.[5][6][7] Half the nation's population growth and two-thirds of its economic growth is expected to occur within the megaregions over the next four decades. The America 2050 project has identified eleven Megaregions of the United States, including the Great Lakes Megalopolis.[8][A] In Canada, parts of the region are also referred to as the Quebec City–Windsor Corridor.


According to the Brookings Institution, if it stood alone as a country, the economy of the Great Lakes region which includes most of the Great Lakes Megalopolis, would be one of the largest economic units on earth (with a $4.5-trillion gross regional product). The Great Lakes contain one-fifth of the world's surface fresh water and have a combined shoreline of 10,210 miles (17,017 km). About 200 million tons of cargo are shipped by way of the Great Lakes each year.[6][9][10]

Tourism is an important economic factor in and around the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Cruising Coalition supports passenger ship cruises through a joint U.S-Canadian venture to Great Lakes Ports and the Saint Lawrence Seaway.[11][12]

Population centers

Rank Area State/
2009 population
2025 population
Projected increase
Projected % increase
1 Chicago Illinois
2009-09-18 3060x2040 chicago skyline.jpg 9,804,845 10,746,109 941,264 9.6
2 Toronto Ontario Skyline of Toronto viewed from Harbour.jpg 5,741,400 7,787,000 2,045,600 35.6
3 Detroit Michigan DowntownDetroit.jpg 5,318,744 5,199,608 -119,136 -2.2
4 Montreal Quebec VuedeMontreal.jpg 3,859,300 4,246,931 387,631 10.1
5 Minneapolis – Saint Paul Minnesota
Minn.jpg 3,604,460 4,031,000 426,540 11.8
6 Cleveland – Akron Ohio ClevelandSkyline.jpg 3,515,646 3,795,658 280,012 6.5
7 St. Louis Missouri
St Louis night expblend.jpg 2,892,874 3,049,000 156,126 5.4
8 Pittsburgh Pennsylvania PittsburghNightSkylineCrop.jpg 2,445,117 2,868,818 367,299 15.0
9 Cincinnati Ohio
Cincinnati-scripps-center.jpg 2,214,954 2,448,000 233,046 10.5
10 Indianapolis Indiana Downtown indy from parking garage zoom.JPG 1,928,982 2,270,112 341,130 16.5
11 Kansas City Missouri
Kcsky.jpg 2,038,724 2,293,564 254,840 12.5
12 Columbus Ohio ColumbusNightSkyline2.jpg 2,031,229 2,446,450 415,221 20.4
13 Milwaukee Wisconsin Milwaukee skyline.jpg 2,025,898 2,129,949 103,706 5.1
14 Ottawa – Gatineau Ontario
Downtown ottawa night.jpg 1,451,415 1,596,556 145,141 10.0
15 Louisville Kentucky
Louisville skyline night.jpg 1,395,634 1,602,456 206,822 14.8
16 Grand Rapids Michigan Grdowntown.jpg 1,327,366 1,530,000 202,634 15.3
17 Buffalo New York BuffaloSkyline.jpg 1,203,493 1,040,400 -163,093 -13.5
18 Rochester New York Skyline Rochester, NY.jpg 1,149,653 1,078,600 -71,053 -6.2
19 Dayton Ohio Dayton Skyline.jpg 1,066,261 1,066,261 0 0
20 Hamilton Ontario HamiltonOntarioSkylineC.JPG 740,200 954,858 214,658 29.1
21 Toledo Ohio
Skyline of Toledo, Ohio.jpg 672,220 672,220 0 0
22 Madison Wisconsin Madisonwisconsin20060813p001.jpg 628,947 820,483 191,563 30.5
23 Youngstown-Warren-Boardman Ohio
Youngstown2 036.jpg 602,964 N/A N/A N/A
24 South Bend-Mishawaka-Elkhart Indiana
City of South Bend, downtown skyline.jpg 564,943 NA NA NA
25 Lansing Michigan Lansing skyline brobb 11 2009.jpg 523,609 547,325 23,716 4.6
26 Kitchener – Waterloo Ontario Arial photo of downtown Kitchener Ontario.JPG 492,400 635,196 142,796 29.1
27 London Ontario London, Ontario, Canada- The Forest City from above.jpg 492,200 634,938 142,738 29.1
28 Rockford Illinois Rockford, IL Rockford Register Star 01.JPG 455,595 499,400 43,805 9.9
29 Fort Wayne Indiana Downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana Skyline from Old Fort, May 2014.jpg 414,315 455,623 39,366 9.9
30 St. Catharines – Niagara Ontario SkylineNiagaraFalls.jpg 404,400 521,676 117,276 29.0
31 Davenport-Rock Island-Moline Iowa
Downtown Davenport.jpg 379,690 452,565 72,875 26.1
32 Fox Cities Wisconsin Appleton Skyline, December 2012.JPG 360,000 NA NA NA
33 Oshawa Ontario Oshawa ON.JPG 356,177 419,067 62,890 17.7
34 Windsor Ontario Windsor Ontario skyline.jpg 330,900 426,861 95,961 29
35 Green Bay Wisconsin Downtown Green Bay 2.JPG 304,783 NA NA NA
36 Erie Pennsylvania Flagship-Niagara-Dobbins-Landing-Erie-July4-2009.jpg 280,985 N/A N/A N/A
37 Duluth-Superior Minnesota
Duluth Skyline.jpg 279,771 N/A N/A N/A
Total CSA/CMA of major metro areas Great Lakes from space.jpg 59,781,623 65,735,336 6,234,698 10.0


A. ^ a Various sources include Montreal and Ottawa in the megalopolis, while excluding Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville, and Columbus.[16]


See also


  1. Bell, Daniel; Stephen Richards Graubard (1997). Toward the year 2000: work in progress. MIT Press. p. 87. ISBN 0-262-52237-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cities: Capital for the New Megalopolis.Time magazine, November 4, 1966. Retrieved on July 16, 2010.
  3. Doxiadis, Constantinos. (1970) The Great Lakes Megalopolis. Doxiadis Assoc.
  4. MegaCensusReport.indd
  5. "About Our Great Lakes -Great Lakes Basin Facts- NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab (GLERL)". Retrieved 2012-04-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Economy of the Great Lakes Region". 2012-04-13. Retrieved 2012-04-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. U.S Army Corps of Engineers (January 2009).Great Lakes Navigation System: Economic Strength to the Nation. Retrieved on April 11, 2011.
  8. America 2050: Megaregions: Great Lakes. Regional Plan Association.
  9. Our lakes facts. NOAA. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  10. U.S Army Corps of Engineers (January 2009).Great Lakes Navigation System: Economic Strength to the Nation. Retrieved on July 25, 2011.
  11. Great Lakes Cruising Coalition Retrieved on July 25, 2011.
  13. Federation for American Immigration Reform
  14. Ontario Population Projections Update
  15. Institut de la statistique Quebec
  16. Example: Great Lakes Megalopolis (PDF) (Map). The Center for Urban and Regional Studies, Youngstown State University. 2005.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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