Satellite cities: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A satellite town or satellite city is a concept in urban planning that refers essentially to miniature metropolitan areas on the fringe of larger ones.



Satellite cities are small or medium-sized cities near a large metropolis, that:

  • Predate that metropolis' suburban expansion;
  • Are at least partially independent from that metropolis economically and socially;
  • Are physically separated from the metropolis by rural territory; satellite cities should have their own independent urbanized area, or equivalent;
  • Have their own bedroom communities;
  • Have a traditional downtown surrounded by traditional "inner city" neighborhoods;
  • May or may not be counted as part of the large metropolis' Combined Statistical Area

Quick Reference

In the United States, the easiest way to tell if a community is a satellite city or some other type of development (see below) is to look up whether it has its own independent urbanized area or is considered to be part of the urbanized area of its larger neighbor. This rule has exceptions, but should generally be followed.

Satellite cities versus other types of settlement

Satellite cities are different from and are sometimes confused with the following related patterns of development.


Satellite cities differ from suburbs in that they have distinct employment bases, commutersheds, and cultural offerings from the central metropolis, as well as an independent municipal government. Satellite cities are not bedroom communities.

Edge cities

Satellite cities differ from edge cities, which are suburbs with large employment bases and cultural offerings, in that satellite cities must have a true historic downtown, a distinct independent municipal government, existed as a city prior to becoming interconnected with the larger metropolitan core, and are surrounded by both their own family of bedroom communities and a belt of rural land between themselves and the central city.

Conceptually, both satellite cities and some types of edge city could be (and once were) self-sufficient communities outside of their larger metropolitan areas, but have become interconnected due to the suburban expansion of the larger metropolis. However, while edge cities may have their own government and share many characteristics with satellite cities, they are much more physically integrated with the core city and would not exist in anything like their present form if not for the suburban expansion of their larger neighbor. Edge cities are activity nodes within a metro area, not miniature metro areas themselves.

Some satellite cities that are particularly close or well connected to their larger neighbors and/or have their own historic downtown may also qualify as the Uptown variety of edge cities, but the terms are not synonymous.

See the main article for edge cities for more information.

Multi-polar cities

In some cases large metropolitan areas have multiple centers of close to equal importance. These multi-polar cities are often referred to as twin cities. Multi-polar cities differ from satellite cities in two key ways:

  • Satellites are clearly much less important than the larger center around which they are located, while the various nodes of multi-polar cities are close to each other in importance.
  • Satellites are separated from the larger center by a substantial belt of rural territory, while twin cities may be fully integrated in physical form.

For example Fort Worth, Texas is a twin of Dallas, Texas because though Fort Worth is somewhat smaller, it is proportionally close enough and physically integrated enough with Dallas to be considered a twin rather than a satellite. Generally speaking, cities that are listed as being part of the same urbanized area should be considered twins, rather than one having a satellite relationship to the other.

Metropolitan areas

Conceptually, satellite cities are miniature metro areas on the fringe of larger ones. Satellite cities are sometimes listed as part of the larger metro area, and sometimes listed as totally independent. In the United States, satellite cities are often (but not always) listed as independent Metropolitan Statistical Areas within a single Combined Statistical Area that is unified with the larger metropolis.



United States

Some examples of satellite cities in the United States include: (This list is not comprehensive)

Other countries

United Kingdom
Hong Kong SAR

See also

Rural exodus, New Urbanism, Urban sprawl, Bedroom community, Edge city, urban area, United States urban area
Regional planning, Spatial planning

External articles

  • Graham Romeyn Taylor, Satellite Cities. A Study of Industrial Suburbs. ISBN 1402161883
  • Berger, A. S. (1978). The city: urban communities and their problems. Dubuque, Iowa: Brown.
  • Carpenter, N. (1931). The sociology of city life. Longmans' social science series. New York: Longmans, Green and Co.


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