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Urban Studies: Define "city"

This is a library guide page to resources on Urban Studies topics

General Information

"central city a city that constitutes the densely populated center of a metropolitan area — called also core city." -- Merriam-Webster

"suburba smaller community adjacent to...a [central] city." -- Merriam-Webster


Example: Atlanta and its suburbs

Atlanta and its suburbs

"Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) have at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties." -- US Census Bureau 

"Combined Statistical Areas (CSA) consist of two or more [metro areas]." -- US Census Bureau

Example: Stanford University is in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara MSA and in the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland CSA.

2020 State-based Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas Maps




2017 American Housing Survey

What is your definition of city? How do you categorize where you live--urban, suburban, rural? 

The Census Bureau compared their classifications with those of the public. There was much overlap, but a small percent of people had a different sense of the type of place in which they lived. Why do you think categorizations might differ?