Have you heard the term mega-regions? I hadn't until I stumbled into an article on the website Atlas Obscura that looked to examine how larger places, like major cities, are connected to smaller places like Sedalia or Warrensburg. While I hadn't heard the term I've been interested in this type of thing since I worked in Lansing, Michigan.

When I took the job in Lansing I assumed it'd be like most other places I lived in the Midwest. I mean Michigan is the Midwest, right? I found it very different. I characterized it as having more in common with the East Coast than Chicago. Ever since then I look for the connections the place I'm living shares with other larger places. If it has any.

For example, when I lived in Lubbock, it really was it's own thing. It was about five hours from anywhere, so there wasn't a lot in common with Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, or even Albuquerque. There wasn't the connection to the South you might find in East Texas. Or the connection to Dallas that permeates the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

The research Atlas Obscura cites is from Garrett Dash Nelson, a historical geographer from Dartmouth, and Alasdair Rae, an urban analyst from the University of Sheffield who used commuting data and an algorithm to show "how the country is divided into economically entwined regions that don’t conform to city or state boundaries."

Nelson ET AL via Atlas Obscura
Nelson ET AL via Atlas Obscura

Of course, I think many smaller places are more connected to larger places not only by the economy, but by other factors too. What teams people are fans of. What larger cities people connect with or have family roots in. What big cities people conduct business in. Shared geography. Where they get their media and television from.

So what about Sedalia? Warrensburg? Do you think we're more connected to St. Louis or Kansas City? Eyeballing the map, it seems the delineation between the St. Louis and Kansas City mega-regions is somewhere between Sedalia and Warrensburg, closer to Warrensburg.

And to me that makes sense. Sedalia and Warrensburg are very different places. Sedalia not only gets Kansas City TV stations, residents also get Columbia TV stations. If you're not going to a doctor in town, Sedalian's more likely will head to Columbia. Residents of the 'Burg will more likely head into Kansas City or it's suburbs. There's more of a mix of Cards and Royals fans in Sedalia, and dare I say people seem more passionate about the Cardinals. In Warrensburg it's all about the Royals.

Sedalia, bolstered through it's proximity to Columbia, has more of a connection to St. Louis. While Warrensburg seems to be solidly more connected to Kansas City. At least that's my impression. Of course, as Atlas Obscura points out an algorithm can't determine every connection, and our habits and perceptions may inform our perception of whether our home town is more connected to St. Louis, Kansas City, or someplace else.

So what do you think? What town do you live in, and do you think your town is more connected to the St. Louis or Kansas City mega-region? Or isn't connected to either one?

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