Cover image for Regionalism and realism : a study of governments in the New York metropolitan area
Regionalism and realism : a study of governments in the New York metropolitan area
Benjamin, Gerald.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, DC : Brookings Institution Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xviii, 308 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
General Note:
"A Century Foundation Book."
Part One, Understanding regionalism. The New York region : 2,179 governments -- The values of regionalism -- Part Two, Regionalism and the New York City experience. One grand and glorious city -- Creating real local government in New York City -- The limits of metropolitanism. Part Three, Functional regionalism. Across state lines : the Port Authority -- Single-state agencies : the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New Jersey Transit -- Part Four, The regional idea in subregional settings. The persistence of suburban localism -- Two approaches : bottom up and top down -- Part Five, The nation in the regional arena. The case of solid waste -- Part Six, Conclusion. Lessons for the future.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
JS1230 .B46 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
JS1230 .B46 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Drawing on the history of state and local government in the New York Tri-State metropolitan region, the authors present a pathbreaking new theory about the values reformers must understand and balance in order to tackle the hard challenges of reforming and regionalizing local governance in the complex, dynamic world of American politics and public policy. Their examination of the way 2,179 local governments in the Tri-State region have evolved over more than a century pays special attention to New York City, but is applicable to other metropolitan areas. It brings to life ideas that are crucial to a subject that in the academic literature is often treated in a way that is abstract and hard to grasp. This is a valuable book for scholars, political leaders, and students interested in regionalism in metropolitan America and in the fascinating history and governance of the nation¡¯s largest city and its vast metropolitan region.

Author Notes

Richard P. Nathan directs the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, the public policy research arm of the State University of New York.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This is a worthy successor to such early outstanding analyses of the New York region's governments as Robert C. Woods's 1400 Governments (Harvard, 1961). It is a valuable contribution even if it were just an excellent study of the nation's most populous metropolitan area--home to one out of every 15 Americans. But it moves well beyond a case study of a single metropolitan area to discuss, with sophistication and insight, how regionalism is affecting governance more generally within metropolitan areas, using New York as a lens for greater perspective on the remainder of the US. The final chapter, "Lessons for the Future," contains rich and pertinent advice and should be required reading for all those seeking to reform how metropolitan areas are governed. Highly recommended for all libraries. E. T. Jones University of Missouri--St. Louis

Table of Contents

Part 1 Understanding Regionalism
1 The New York Region: 2,179 Governmentsp. 3
New York City and the Regionp. 4
Web of Local Governments: Origins and Consequencesp. 8
Variations in Local Governmentp. 10
Special Burdens on Citiesp. 12
Costs of Fragmentation and Layeringp. 17
Special-Purpose Governmentsp. 22
Details and the Big Picturep. 26
Approaches to Realism in the Tri-State Regionp. 27
2 The Values of Regionalismp. 33
Persistence of Governmental Boundariesp. 35
Four Values of Regionalismp. 38
Redistributive Metropolitanism: Seeking Equityp. 40
Functional Regionalism: Achieving Efficiencyp. 44
Economic Regionalism: Assuring Competitivenessp. 47
Part 2 Regionalism and the New York City Experience
3 One Grand and Glorious Cityp. 53
The Vision: Development and Efficiencyp. 54
The Power: Development and Spoilsp. 56
The Loser: Smaller-Scale Governmentp. 58
Centralizers versus Decentralizers: Revolt of the Boroughsp. 60
Functional Regionalism and Recentralization of Powerp. 64
Recentralization of the Schoolsp. 67
Community, Equity, and Community Boardsp. 70
Conclusion: Metropolitanism Subsumes Localismp. 74
4 Creating Real Local Government in New York Cityp. 77
The "City" of Staten Islandp. 79
Business Improvement Districtsp. 81
Suggested Agenda for a New Charter Commissionp. 85
5 The Limits of Metropolitanismp. 91
Limits of Metropolises as Local Governmentsp. 92
Rigidity of Newly Created Metropolitan Boundariesp. 102
Interstate Metropolitan Government: An Orphan in the Federal Systemp. 105
Rivalries within and among Statesp. 107
Goals versus Realityp. 110
Part 3 Functional Regionalism
6 Across State Lines: The Port Authorityp. 115
A Regional or Two-State Agency?p. 118
A Bi-State, Not a Regional, Agencyp. 132
7 Single-State Agencies: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New Jersey Transitp. 135
Governmentalization of Mass Transitp. 137
Market Failure and the Evolution of Regional Mass Transitp. 139
MTA and the Politics of Geographical Equityp. 146
A Single Transportation Agency for the Tri-State Region?p. 152
Framework for a Single Regional Agencyp. 155
Part 4 The Regional Idea in Subregional Settings
8 The Persistence of Suburban Localismp. 161
Eliminating an Entire Class of Local Governmentsp. 166
State Incentives for Change: School Consolidationp. 168
The Issue of Racep. 173
Structural Change Does Not Workp. 175
9 Two Approaches: Bottom Up and Top Downp. 178
Bottom-Up Approachp. 179
Top-Down Approachp. 193
Conclusionsp. 221
Part 5 The Nation in the Regional Arena
10 The Case of Solid Wastep. 227
Flow Control, Federalism, and Privatizationp. 229
New Jersey: Relying on the Countiesp. 230
Connecticut: Creating a State Authority and Making Burning Workp. 234
Connecticut and New Jersey Compared: Structure Makes a Differencep. 239
National and Private Sector Responsibility for Solid Wastep. 241
Regionalism: To What End? For What Price?p. 248
The Trade-Off: Community versus Efficiencyp. 250
Part 6 Conclusion
11 Lessons for the Futurep. 255
Understanding the Values of Regionalismp. 256
Regionalism and State Governmentp. 259
Regionalism and Local Governmentp. 262
The Politics of Regionalismp. 265
Notesp. 269
Indexp. 301