FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2022
Will Jason (415) 475-9554
New Book Megaregions and America’s Future Provides a Framework for Large-Scale Public Investment
Cambridge, MA — Stretching from Portland, Maine, to Norfolk, Virginia, the Northeast megaregion is a powerhouse of the knowledge economy. Yet it struggles with grinding congestion, escalating climate change risks, and skyrocketing housing costs—problems that too often fall to the region’s more than 1,500 individual cities, towns, villages, and boroughs to solve.
The Northeast and a dozen other U.S. megaregions will shape the country’s future over the next century. Each one is a network of metropolitan areas united by history, culture, economics, and shared infrastructure and natural resource systems. They contain only 30 percent of the nation’s land, but most of its people. As as a new bookmakes clear, they face complex challenges that require planning, policy, and governance that cross traditional political boundaries.
Written by planning scholars Robert D. Yaro, Ming Zhang, and Frederick R. Steiner, Megaregions and America’s Future explains the concept of megaregions, provides updated economic, demographic, and environmental data, draws lessons from Europe and Asia, and shows how megaregions are an essential framework for governing the world’s largest economy.
Far from being a substitute for a strong national government, megaregions are, in the authors’ view, the perfect geographic unit for channeling federal investment and managing large systems such as interstate rail, multistate natural resource systems, climate mitigation or adaptation, and major economic development initiatives.
“Creating national, megaregional, and metropolitan governance systems will require a reinvention of the federal system and a nationwide program of innovation and experimentation unlike any that the country has undertaken since the New Deal almost a century ago,” the authors write.
The book pays particular attention to defenses against sea-level rise and storm surges, calling for regional alternatives to the “go-it-alone approach” of cities like Boston and New York, and to high-speed rail, which could open access to opportunity as it has in other highly industrialized countries. Building better rail networks within cities and regions is critical to the success of high-speed rail, the authors write.
Geared to urban and regional planners and policy analysts, staff and decision makers in transportation, environmental protection, and development agencies, faculty and students in related fields, as well as business leaders, Megaregions and America’s Future includes a case study of the Northeast—the nation’s oldest megaregion and the source of the concept—but delves deeply into every megaregion, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast to Southern California.
The book builds on two decades of Lincoln Institute scholarship on megaregions, including several books on the European model and Regional Planning in America: Practice and Prospect, a foundational text in the field of regional planning. Megaregions and America’s Future is available on the Lincoln Institute’s website: https://www.lincolninst.edu/publications/books/megaregions-americas-future.
Praise for Megaregions and America’s Future
“Written by the leading experts on regional planning at this scale, this timely book will become a go-to source.”
—Barbara Faga, Professor of Professional Practice in Urban Design, Rutgers University
“Megaregions are an essential framework for understanding the economic, environmental, social, and climate change challenges we now face. This is the seminal book on a concept critical to our future—from the authors who conceived and mapped its contemporary definition, challenges, and opportunities. Agglomeration effects on economic growth, new communication technologies, emerging transportation modes, and codependent environmental forces will shape the future of our cities into megaregions. This book gives us the understanding and tools to steer them toward equity, resilience, and sustainability.”
—Peter Calthorpe, Senior Vice President, HDR
“This ambitious book makes the case for recognizing American megaregions as a driver of policy, planning, and investment. It provides a road map for breaking down jurisdictional boundaries to address urgent needs in affordable housing, ecosystem vulnerability, and transportation-system connectedness—and it is essential reading for anyone hoping to broaden their thinking about our national trajectory.”
—Sara C. Bronin, Professor, Cornell University
“In Megaregions, authors Yaro, Zhang, and Steiner productively ‘rediscover’ the region as a category of political, ecological, and economic order particularly well suited to address contemporary challenges associated with ongoing urbanization. The volume presents a timely and provocative rereading of the region as an instrument of planning, combining equal parts empirical analysis and spatial proposition. Megaregions is painstakingly researched, exquisitely composed, and beautifully written. It offers a sober yet optimistic lens through which to project the future of the American city and its prospects in relation to the ongoing project of America.”
—Charles Waldheim, John E. Irving Professor of Landscape Architecture and Director, Harvard University Graduate School of Design
“Yaro, Zhang, and Steiner successfully present a coherent rationale for the “megaregion,” which is the next focus area for the planning profession. The authors correctly argue that it is the best scale for infrastructure investment. Advocacy for a new grassroots institutional structure is the key to success.”
—Michael Morris, P.E. Transportation Director, MPO for Dallas-Fort Worth region
About the Authors
Robert D. Yaro is professor of practice emeritus in city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania.
Ming Zhang is professor of community and regional planning at the University of Texas at Austin and director of the USDOT University Transportation Center: Cooperative Mobility for Competitive Megaregions.
Frederick R. Steiner is dean and Paley Professor of the Stuart Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania.
About the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy seeks to improve quality of life through the effective use, taxation, and stewardship of land. A nonprofit private operating foundation whose origins date to 1946, the Lincoln Institute researches and recommends creative approaches to land as a solution to economic, social, and environmental challenges. Through education, training, publications, and events, we integrate theory and practice to inform public policy decisions worldwide.