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25 METROPOLITAN DISTRICTS Cities of 200,000 or more, including territory lying within ten miles of city limits_
One-Fourth of the population in the United States liveson of the total land area
THE PROBLEM OF THE CITY
T requires a fool or a philosopher to prophesy what
a generation may bring forth, and one may be about
as trustworthy as the other in the matter of venturing an opinion as to the future of the city. It was a titled statistician who reasoned that a city's food supply could not be brought from a greater distance than thirtyfive miles, because this was the travelling limit of cattle, and that this fact would set the bounds of a city's growth. Sir William Petty argued that if London continued to double its population every forty years, while England doubled its population only once in three hundred and sixty years, obviously the men on the farms could not possibly supply the city with provisions, as, in his day, it required one man on the farm for every man in the city. The trouble with Petty was that he based his conclusions upon the supposition that all the factors involved would remain as they were. This is a common
fault with many another sociologist.
Malthus, the great economist, said that the time would undoubtedly come when it would not be possible to supply the world with sufficient food, because while the population was growing in geometrical proportions food could be produced only in arithmetical ratios. But how was he to know that a famous President of the United States would one day seriously discuss the question of race suicide, while another man, whose name has become almost equally famous, would manufacture a wonderful
harvesting machine which has revolutionized agricultural life and practice? At one time it required two-thirds of the population of the United States to produce enough food for this country. To-day it requires only one-third. But if present available means were employed, one man could produce enough food to feed forty.
Aristotle limited the ideal city to 10,000 inhabitants. Plutarch and Cicero sought by persuasion to turn back the current of emigration which came from the country. Justinian tried to stop it by legal measures. The Tudors and the Stuarts issued proclamations forbidding the erection of new houses in London, enjoining the country people to return to their homes. The extension of Paris beyond certain limits was prohibited by law at various periods from 1549 to 1672.1 But persuasion and legislation were both in vain. The city has developed in spite of the wisdom of philosophers and the edicts of rulers, because the growth of populations and their manner of making a living are determined by certain forces over which neither kings nor philosophers have ultimate control.
While the problem of the city is by no means a modern one, nevertheless the factors which make the great cities of the twentieth century possible are of recent origin. The same causes which account for the rapidly growing American cities are responsible for the growth of the cities in foreign lands. For the problem of the city is world-wide. The modern city is the product of the newer civilization. It is the outgrowth of economic and social conditions from which there is no turning back.
At the beginning of the sixteenth century Europe had only seven cities with a population of 100,000 and over. At its end there were not more than fourteen. During the seventeenth century practically no progress was made
1 "The Growth of Cities," Weber, page 454.