How did Americans become big city dwellers? The vast majority of our citizens live in “Metropolitan America.” In my home state of Colorado, our total population is 4,861,515. Out of that number, 4,175,239 live along the eastern slope of the Rockies in a somewhat narrow band known as the “Front Range Urban Corridor.” Also known as, “the place where Western Slope Coloradoan’s don’t go.”
Narrowing things down a bit further, the metro area known as the “Denver-Aurora-Boulder Combined Statistical Area,” is home to about 3,000,000 of our mile high population.
My state is comprised of some 104,100 square miles, yet the vast majority of the population lives in the confines of 8400 square miles! Why?
I have asked many people why they choose to live in the big cities, and the most common answer that I get is, “We have everything here.” On that account, I couldn’t agree more. They have congestion, crime, congestion, corruption, congestion, pollution, congestion, and whole lot of folks who are aspiring NASCAR drivers; yep, everything.
I just can’t get into the big city groove and it’s not because I haven’t been there. Back when I was a director for a large power and transmission company, I drove to Denver each and every month for several years to attend a two day board meeting.
On the afternoons that I would descend out of the mountains into the famous “brown cloud” of pollution, I would get a sick uneasy feeling that refused to go away. On the afternoon that I was returning home, I felt like I was escaping from a sort of imprisonment; similar to the feeling I had the day I was discharged from the Navy.
I would gas up the night before, pack my bags, position my car for a quick getaway and when the adjournment gavel hit the table, I was halfway out the door pulling off my tie and suit coat. Once I arrived at the Eisenhower Tunnel, whose exit would deposit me on the western side of the Continental Divide, I could breathe easy again and a sort of euphoria would come over me.
So why do I feel imprisoned by the city? Am I just whacky or is there some validity to my fears? And what critical issues do I see coming for city dwellers?