What exactly is a metro area?

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I just watched a video that said new York city had a population of 8.8 million as of the 2020 census but had a metro population of over 26 million? I don’t really understand where they got that 26 million from. Another example, LA, had a population of around 3.8 million but a metro population of over 9 million. Where do they get those metro area figures from?

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Basically there’s the area that’s legally called part of the city, but if there’s skyscrapers on both sides of the city line it’s obviously still realistically part of the same city, even if it isn’t legally. So they call that whole part the metro area.

“Commuter belt” isn’t far off. So where there are transport corridors like highways and express trains metro areas can have strange shapes.

A metro area is s city+surrounding areas that share lots of things like culture, economy, and infrastructure, but are not the same political area. Dallas is a different city from Arlington, it has a different government, taxes, policies, and so on, but Arlington is part of the Dallas metro area.

Pretend your parents decide to throw a BBQ. Your mind might jump to ribs, burgers, brats, brisket, and whatnot that they need to buy. That’s the city. That’s the core concept.

The thing is, that’s not all you eat. You eat corn on the cob, collard greens, some bread, maybe some sauces. But it’s not just what you eat, you also need the grill, plates, charcoal/propane, etc. These are the other things that make your BBQ party a BBQ, and these are the metro areas.