Other people are looking for a different mix. They want some of the cultural and entertainment opportunities big cities offer — concerts, theatre, sporting events, etc. But don’t necessarily want to live side-by-side with 2 to 8 million other people.
For these individuals, what I’m calling satellite cities may be the answer. That is, small cities that are about 30 – 60 minutes drive beyond the last spots of sprawl from the bigger city. Satellite cities offer the atmosphere of the smaller city — downtown, work, school and friends are all in close proximity — and some of the benefits of the larger city such as driving into down for a concert or the big game.
For a city to be a satellite and not a suburb, it needs to have it’s own history and character as well as the majority of the population living and working in the area (and not the bigger city). That is, it needs to be relatively self-contained in terms of employment and residences. Population wise, I’m thinking that satellite cities as having about 150,000 – 300,000 people, +/-. They also could be part of a satelitte region of 2-3 such cities in close proximity, as with Guelph (see photo), Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo Ontario that serve as a satellite region to Toronto (one of North America’s largest cities).
Some satellite cities have siginifcant universities and may even be the university town of 50-100 years ago, now all grown up with a diversifed industrial and employment base. In some cases the university may offer a platform on which to support different economic clusters.
In Canada, besides the Guelph-Cambridge-Kitchener — Waterloo satellite, there are others to watch. Kingston Ontario; the townships southeast of Montreal; Red Deer and Lethbridge Alberta; and perhaps Squamish BC although the latter’s employment base is not keeping pace with residents who frequently commute to Vancouver or Whistler to work.
For the US, I’ll have to think about it. Everett might have been a satellite of Seattle, but the bigger city seems to have caught it and there is no break. At one time Ft. Worth offered a nice satellite to Dallas, but again infill development has largely merged the two together. A similar situation seems to exist for Phoenix or Los Angeles — at one time there were nice satellite cities, but they;ve become suburbs. Send me your suggestions of great US satellite cities to watch for as the new sites of subtle, “under the radar” economic development.
I have more ideas on this topic that I’ll post soon.