Cities have been pivotal role to improved living standards, because of the opportunities they facilitate. This is particularly evident over the past two centuries, as world urbanization has risen from 3 percent to over 50 percent, and to more than 80 percent in the United States.
There have been frequent press reports that baby boomers, those born between 1945 and 1964, are abandoning the suburbs and moving “back” to the urban cores (actually most suburban residents did not move from urban cores). Virtually without exception such stories are based on anecdotes, often gathered by reporters stationed in Manhattan, downtown San Francisco or Washington or elsewhere in urban cores around the nation. Clearly, the anecdotes about boomers who move to suburbs, exurbs, or to outside major metropolitan areas are not readily accessible (and perhaps not as interesting) to the downtown media.
The term “Greater New York” was applied, unofficially, to the 1898 consolidation that produced the present city of New York, which brought together the present five boroughs (counties). When consolidated, much of the city of New York was agricultural. As time went on, the term “Greater” came to apply to virtually any large city and its environs, not just New York. By 2010, Greater New York had expanded to somewhere between 19 million and 23 million residents, depending on the definition.