Page:1899 The Growth of Cities in the Nineteenth Century.djvu/41

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INTRODUCTION

dity is reached in the case of the "city" of Mullinville, Kiowa county, with 79 inhabitants! It is greatly to be regretted that the word "city" is thus degraded, for it is thus coming to lose its peculiar significance. In the East, however, the meaning has been preserved and no one calls a place a "city" unless it possesses claims to the superior influence that accompanies a large population. In Massachusetts, all communities and areas are under the town (township) government until they attain a population of 12,000, when they are incorporated as cities; that is to say, the town meeting is then replaced with a representative legislature and executive. In New York, there is no rigid limit, but in practice a population of about 10,000 is required for incorporation as a city. There are now six cities in New York that had a population of 8,000-10,000 in 1892. But taking the United States as a whole, it must be admitted that the legal city is much less populous than the statistical unit (8,000), for there are 1,623 incorporated cities in the United States, and only 448 towns exceeding 8,000 population.[1]

In England, the municipality corresponding to our city is the borough; the term "city," when used at all, referring by tradition to a borough that happens to be the residence of a bishop. But for the exercise of the important and numerous functions connected with sanitation the country is divided into urban and rural sanitary districts. When the local government board finds an unusually high death-rate prevailing in a country district, it may by order create an urban sanitary district, which is endowed with greater powers in regard to the preservation of health. And it is the urban sanitary districts that contain the urban population of England. There are few districts with a smaller population than

  1. Gannett, Building of a Nation, 32.