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Is small town America really metropolitan America?

Last week we told you about the four suburban Philadelphia communities named to Money magazine's 100 Best Places to Live in America list. The New Republic looks at those same four hotspots as evidence of a shift in the way we live in post-recession America.

But Money is still wedded to the notion that our best places are “small towns,” without acknowledging the regional metropolitan economies--with distinctive economic clusters and amenities, unified housing and labor markets, and modern transportation networks--that determine their economic prosperity and popular appeal.

The magazine does implicitly recognize these metropolitan connections. Take the four new communities in this year’s list within in the resilient Philadelphia metro: West Goshen “gives residents a rural feel, yet good access to jobs,” given its proximity to Philadelphia; Horsham “lies with easy commuting distance of Philadelphia,” Ardmore is “just a few minutes from the city by rail,” and commuters from West Norriton “appreciate that it is 25 miles southwest of Philadelphia.”

It is time to acknowledge that these “small towns,” really suburbs and exurbs, are part of highly-connected and seamlessly-integrated metropolitan economies. The notion promoted by these kinds of “best places” lists--that “small towns” or “small cities” are self-sufficient islands--is fundamentally misguided. Families and firms choose these communities precisely because they benefit from the assets, attributes, and advantages of their broader metros.


Original source: The New Republic
Read the full story here.
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