Tuesday, August 20, 2013

City or Town?

Lately there has been some scuttlebutt about Norristown being referred to as a city. It appeared in a blog entry asking to stop calling Norristown a city. The term was brought up at a zoning meeting where the County's planning person called us a city and said we had an urban feel.  The author of the blog article insisted we are not a city and refers to the place as a town or by our old name "borough".  In her mind, the word "city" implies a feeling that she apparently does not feel in Norristown and probably furthermore implies a crime ridden area.

What is in a name? A rose is by any other name is still a rose. To me the words city, town, village, urban area, and borough are somewhat interchangeable.  Technically, the dividing line between those words generally revolve around population count and density.  Norristown is definitely not a suburb because we are not an area that has homes on larger sized lots with driveways and sidewalks.  Norristown has a population of over 35,000 people, has mostly densely built out areas and very little green space.  The word city is much more descriptive of how we are.  Webster's definition of a city is "a : an inhabited place of greater size, population, or importance than a town or village".  We are the county seat, so we have some importance.  That somewhat supports my claim.  Wikipedia says "city is a relatively large and permanent settlement. Although there is no agreement on how a city is distinguished from a town within general English language meanings..." This means to me that town or city are appropriate names for where we live.

The bottom line to me is there is no doubt in my mind from a planning perspective that we are an urban area. We have small amount of areas where development can occur, we have dense housing, and generally we have a large, diverse population.  That spells urban.  What we don't have is the businesses, shopping, and arts areas that give a hustle and bustle feel to a place whether it be town or city, and that is where I believe our efforts should strive to accomplish. Regardless of what you call Norristown I still call it home.

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