Monday, October 02, 2006

Mega Cities

Mega City One is the fictional city from the Judge Dredd comic book. It is a fictional megalopolis around the year 2100 AD which covers the area that today stretches from Boston to Washington, DC. In the comic, it is one of three main civilizations surviving a disastrous nuclear war in 2070; with a population of 400 million the city is far denser than any city today. People live in city blocks that are so large they become towns in themselves and the mega buildings that make up these blocks are much like the Sky City that has been proposed by some Japanese architects.

Judge Dredd is not the only fictional prediction of the rise of such mega cities. Other similar ideas are illustrated in a plethora of books, magazines and films that are part of pop culture today. For instance both the films, Blade Runner (1982) and Demolition Man (1993), take place several decades into the future and depict an enormous megalopolis on the west coast stretching from Seattle to Los Angeles. Again a similar image is created as Mega City One from the Judge Dredd comic.

When indulging ourselves into these forms of entertainment, our willing suspension of disbelief allows us to imagine a world as is described in these stories, but the reality is that our world today is rapidly approaching these visions. A mega city is defined as a city with over 10 million inhabitants. The first mega city ever was New York in 1960 when it broke the 10 million mark. Today, Tokyo is considered the larges mega city with a population of around 30 million and there are 25 other mega cities around the world (though this figure may change by the time I have posted this blog). The most amazing thing is the exponential addition of cities to the mega city list. The graph below illustrates the number of mega cities from 1960 through 2006 and predicts visually how many more cities will be added to the list in five and then fifteen years from now.

Many regions in the US are already being studied as the fictional mega cities from comic books. The following map is of the Judge Dredd world and illustrates four of the post nuclear war mega city civilizations. Overlaid are images of what are the true beginnings of these cities. Mega City One = Bosnywash also known as Boshington (area from Boston to Washington DC, population - 40 million), Mega City Two = San La San (area from San Francisco to San Diego, population – 35 million), Mega City Three - Ft. San Haustin (San Antonio, Huston, Dallas, Ft Worth, population - 14 million) and Chicago Mega City = St. Chitroit (Chicago-Detroit area, population – 27 million). Amazingly, the Judge Dredd world map is not at all far-fetched as the beginnings of cities like Mega City One can clearly be seen. Many other areas of the world, with their rapid growth, are showing similar developments; China and India for instance have seen massive population increases in the last decade as can be seen in the map above. At the current rate of city growth, it doesn’t seem that it will take much longer until the scenes of Blade Runner, Demolition Man and Judge Dredd become reality.

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