The Major Urban Centres of California

California has 460 cities which come under the banner of five different metropolitan areas. They are Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento and the Riverside San-Bernardino Area. The Los Angeles metropolitan area is the second largest in America and in 2016 its estimated population was 13,310,447. It actually covers the largest area in the United States as it sprawls across 4,850 square miles. The city of Los Angeles has a population of 3,819,702 and within the metropolitan area there are another 23 cities with populations of over 100,000. Prior to the end of the Second World War it developed just as any other city.

Los Angeles no better example of urban sprawl

However, since then it has grown beyond the public transit boundaries and now the residents have to rely on their cars, the freeways and cheap petrol prices. However, the advantage is that their housing has space and the population do no live in cramped conditions. The area originally grew as a result of its relationship with the entertainments industry. Both music and films have centred their activity on the city, and the start of the 20th century saw the rapid growth of the city running parallel with the growth in these industries. However, at the same time there has been other successes in other areas of the city’s economies. The docks are the largest in the United States and their success has resulted in many associated industries and businesses being located in the city. The sea trade arriving from the Pacific Ocean has seen major steel industries and oil refineries being located in the area. Success has bred success, and this has resulted in huge volumes of money pouring in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Another major urbanized region is the San Francisco Bay area. The Bay area contains 7.68 million people within its 9 counties. However, if the figure takes into account the three counties that do not border San Francisco’s estuaries then the total is 8.75 million which makes it the 5th largest areas in the United States. It originally grew with the Gold Rush serving as a port for business coming in and out of the area, plus many prospectors were in the area panning the rivers and streams. As it grew as a port it was levelled in 1906 with the earthquake with 28,000 buildings being destroyed and 3000 lives were lost.

San Francisco. Urban growth around the estuaries

However, it quickly recovered and by the time the Panama Pacific Exposition arrived in 1915 it was back on its feet again. During the great depression during the 1930s not one of its banks failed and after the Second World War a huge influx of migrants saw its population double. During the 1960s the area became the centre for the hippie movement and this free-thinking ideology has never left the region. This time also saw the change from agricultural industries to high tech industries. The area has thrived as millions of dollars has been poured into the economy, and Silicon Valley has become a “cluster centre” in the development of these new industries.

The San Diego metropolitan area is on the southern tip of California. The county of San Diego has a population of 3,095,313 with San Diego itself having a population of 1,406,630 which makes it the eight largest cities in the States. It has a really warm Mediterranean climate, great beaches and has a real close relationship with the United States Navy. Being so close to the Mexican border it has close economic ties with its near neighbours.

The city really grew as its agricultural and fishing industries became more successful. The port was able to grow as its close proximity to Mexico, and South America made it easier to import and export goods.  The armed forces continue to be located in the area, newer high tech industries have been attracted into the region and tourism has grown rapidly over the last 30 years. California has huge urban centres with 72 cities having populations over 100,000. The size of the State has meant that there is enough room for everyone to settle.