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What Is A Satellite Town?

In urban planning, a satellite town is a smaller metropolitan area located close to a bigger metropolitan area.

What is a Satellite Town?

A satellite town can be understood by thinking of the concept of a satellite itself. A man-made satellite is launched into orbit. This object is within Earth's orbit. A satellite orbits the earth. However, it is not part of Earth itself. This is exactly how a satellite town comes to be, as it is a smaller city that is near a large(r) metropolis. It might even have small degree of influence from the nearby metropolis. However, it may not be part of that metropolis. Or, if it is part of that metropolitan area, it exists in such a way that it is unique from the rest of the metropolitan area.

What Makes a Town a Satellite Town?

Satellite towns differ from suburban areas and edge cities in several ways. Some satellite towns might be counted as part of a larger metropolitan area. However, those towns have characteristics that make them distinct from suburbs and edge cities.

A satellite town has more cultural autonomy than suburban areas. A satellite town might have some influences from a larger metropolitan area. Those influences, however, are not as strong as they would be for a suburban area. A satellite town will its own cultural amenities and attributes completely distinct from a larger metropolis nearby. Satellite towns are also distinct in having their own historic downtown areas. They are cities that have been established independent of the nearby large metropolitan areas. Their growth took place before the larger suburban growth took place. They have always existed as their own separate cities.

What is the Difference Between a Satellite Town and a Suburb?

Economically, a satellite town stands out from a suburban town. For one thing, satellite towns have a distinct employment base. A satellite town has less economic influence from a larger metropolitan area than a suburb would have. Satellite towns often have their own business districts. This is a product of satellite towns having their own downtown areas. While some people living in satellite towns might commute to a larger city for work, a satellite town will have its own commuter base separate from the metropolitan area nearby.

Satellite cities have stronger municipal governments than suburban areas. They will have its own urban cores. While some satellite cities are interconnected with larger metropolitan areas, they will be self-sufficient. Satellite towns will provide the same municipal services that larger cities provide. In this aspect, a satellite city is independent from a metropolitan area.

What is the Difference Between a Satellite Town and Bedroom Community?

Satellite towns cannot be bedroom communities. This is what distinguishes suburbs from satellite towns. Satellite towns often have their own bedroom communities. They will have suburban areas that people will commute to and from. Suburban areas will serve as bedroom communities for larger cities. A satellite city will function similarly to a larger city.

A satellite town will have a large geographic separation from a larger metropolis nearby. Very often, there is a sizable expanse of rural area between a satellite city and a larger metropolis. In other cases, different geography barriers exist, such as a wide river.

Examples of Satellite Towns

Satellite towns are found throughout the world. Wherever there is a large metropolis, a satellite town can be found nearby. Piraeus is a satellite city near Athens, Greece. Although it is considered part of the Athens metropolitan area, Piraeus has its own economic base. It is a port city with a strong maritime economy, set apart from Athens. It is an integral part of the Athens area. However, Piraeus has its own suburbs. Those suburbs are part of the Piraeus urban area. Piraeus does not serve as a bedroom community for Athens. Instead, Piraeus is its own metropolitan area.

Another example of a satellite town is Racine, Wisconsin. This city is counted as part of the Milwaukee metropolitan area. However, Racine's growth did not come from Milwaukee's suburban sprawl. Racine developed independently. Its economy, while rooted in industry like Milwaukee, developed separate from Milwaukee. Its culture is different from that of Milwaukee. Rather than being a bedroom community for Milwaukee, Racine has its own suburbs. Racine has its own neighborhoods and downtown area.

Importance Of Satellite Towns

In an era where suburban sprawl looms large, satellite cities could be viewed as a solution to the problem. In many cases, satellite towns are part of larger metropolitan areas, but still exist independently of the larger urban core. With suburban sprawl, the suburban areas and bedroom communities are less self-contained. Though not part of the city proper, they still fall within one commuter shed. Urban areas could exist with multiple nodes. Satellite cities can maintain self-contained economies and services, while still being interconnected with larger cities nearby. With better urban planning, satellite towns could play a role in reducing suburban sprawl. Regional planning would need to take place with satellite towns in mind.

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