Town (United States)

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Town ( English for "city") refers to differently defined forms of settlement in the United States depending on the state . So there is no single definition that applies across the United States. In some states, a town is a registered municipality with a state charter , similar to a city ; in other states, a town is an unregistered city.

The common forms of municipalities in the various states are cities, towns, boroughs , villages, and townships , although not all of these types occur in most states. Some states do not use the term town to refer to registered parishes. In some states town has the same meaning as township elsewhere. In some other states, such as Michigan , the name town has no official meaning and is therefore only the name for a settlement that, like a town or a market town, is more than a simple village.

The calculation of the United States Census Bureau for the year 2006 showed that the Town of Hempstead on Long Island , New York , with more than 760,000 inhabitants is the largest city constituted as a town in the United States. More people live in it than in the cities of San Francisco , Boston or Seattle .


In Arizona , the terms town and city ​​are largely interchangeable. A municipality can establish itself and organize itself either as a town or as a city according to the laws of the state, regardless of the number of inhabitants or other restrictions. A city has a slightly different function in terms of the possible division of the city into districts, but otherwise has the same competencies as a town. In Arizona, the law allows two neighboring towns or a town and a city to be merged, but does not allow two cities to be merged.


In California , the words town and city ​​are synonyms . There are two different types of cities in California: those with a charter and those based on general law. Cities governed by a charter derive their powers from this charter, which is registered by the state. This charter regulates, among other things, the official name, City of (Name) or Town of (Name) . Government Code Sections 34500–34504 regulate the functioning of cities, the organization of which is based on general law. This defines the powers precisely. These cities can also name themselves either as City or Town. At the same time, the name village is uncommon in California, both in colloquial language and in official use. Instead, all not as couched in Swiss settlements are also in California town called, although this in other states as village are called. In addition, town often as shorthand for township , used what is an administrative division of a county in California.


In Nevada a town has a city administration, but is not considered a incorporated . Such a city offers only a limited range of services, such as the issuing of building permits or the operation of leisure facilities; most community responsibilities remain with the county. This status is widespread in Nevada, there are only 20 statute cities in the state. Most of the county seats are also towns.

New England

In the six states in New England , a town is a municipality and a more important unit than a county . In Connecticut , Rhode Island and in seven of the fourteen Massachusetts counties , the county is practically only on the map and has no statutory function. In the rest of New England counties are primarily just judicial districts, with some other functions in New Hampshire and Vermont . In all New England states, a town fulfills functions that are taken over by the county in most other states. The difference between town and city in New England is in the way the city council is run. A town is governed by the community assembly and a board of local councils, while a city is presided over by a mayor with a city council.

new York

In New York similarly a Town is primarily a subdivision of the county, but has less importance than in New England. In general, a town covers administrative tasks that are closer to the citizen. A town provides almost all municipal services for the surrounding non-statute areas, which are called Hamlet in New York , while it provides only selected services for the surrounding settlements, known as New York Village . In New York a town receives a number of such hamlets and villages, whereby a village or hamlet can extend over the city limits of two different towns and even into another county. Every resident of New York who does not live on an Indian reservation or a city lives in a town. In some other states there is a similar concept with the townships. In New York, town is practically used as a short form instead of township .


There is only one parish in Pennsylvania that is constituted as a town, Bloomsburg . The rest of the state is mostly classified as a township, although there are also boroughs and cities. The function of the townships is similar to the function of the towns in New York or New England, although the form of their administration is different.


In Virginia , a town is a statutory municipality, similar to a city, but with a lower minimum population. In Virginia, however, a town belongs to a county, while cities are independent of counties.


In Wisconsin , the name town corresponds to a sub-unit of the respective county, so it is comparable to a township in many other states.