Kristian Taketomo

Ph.D. Candidate
Center for Teaching and Learning Fellow

M.A. University of Pennsylvania (2015)
B.A. Carleton College (2011)


Megalopolis, U.S.A.: Regional Urbanization and the Invention of the Northeast Corridor, 1945-1973

My dissertation, “Megalopolis, U.S.A.,” traces the emergence and intellectual life of the concept of the urban mega-region in city and regional planning after 1945, concentrating on the advent of the Northeast Corridor—the 600-mile strip of densely-settled, heavily-developed land between southern New Hampshire and northern Virginia—as a geographic region and a cultural construction

The project describes how, in the mid-1950s, scholars across the academy began “discovering” American super-cities. In the decade after World War II, rampant industrial, retail, and residential development outside urban cores together with auto-oriented planning had transformed the American landscape. Metropolitan areas began to intersect, overlap, and fuse together. In other words, researchers noticed that entire regions had come to resemble giant cities. Scholars quickly zeroed in on the urbanized belt between Greater Boston and Greater Washington D.C. as the country’s most obvious, most impressive, and most important super-city, or Megalopolis. Today, we call this archetypal mega-region the Northeast Corridor.

In 2018, most Americans perceive the Northeast Corridor as the nation’s cultural, political, and economic center. But, as my dissertation demonstrates, from the vantage point of the mid- 1950s, the region’s continued primacy seemed neither inevitable nor secure. In addition to being both an origin story of the mega-region concept and an overview of the concept’s ideological influence, my dissertation is also an historical account of Megalopolitan ascendance and self- preservation after 1945.

CV (file): 
Research Interests: 

20th-century U.S. history, urban history, cultural history, the history of city and regional planning, the history of the social sciences.