Comparing German Speaking City Footprints

In 2013 Matthew Hartzell drew the Map Infographic: Comparing Global City Footprints to compare the urban foot print of large cities of the world.

In the above infrographic the cities are arranged (roughly, in order to maximize space) by population. Clearly, size and population are not directly correlated. Some cities take up a lot more space for a smaller population. The relationship between the two, of course, is known as density (population density, urban density). And although I have not actually spelled out each city’s density here, the numbers and images on the poster above should give you a very strong idea.

Matt then continued to compare the urban foot print of Atlanta with a population of 5 million people to 8 other urban areas that fit within the footprint of Atlanta and had a total of more than 100 million.  Since 2013 Matt has drawn Urbanized Areas, California vs. Northeast Corridor and reddit user jesus_stalin drew this Size Comparison of the UK’s 30 Most Populous Urban Areas.

Missing on Matts Infographic and in the concious of most is a 11.5 million Metropolitan Area in the centre of Europe. No, not London or Paris. Amsterdam, Berlin, Milan, Kiev are no where near 11.5 million. It is the Metropolitan Region Rhine-Ruhr. Area wise it is roughly the size of London metro area and a third the size of Denver metro area. The polycentric city is consists of continuous urban landscape that includes Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Essen, Duisburg, Bochum, Wuppertal, and Bonn. Following the banks of the Rhine and Ruhr river is the centre of Europe’s Blue Banana.

Metropolitan Urban Area Footprints of German Speaking Cities 1.0


To give a comparison I also drew the urban footprint of other large German speaking cities Hamburg, Berlin, Zurich and Vienna (my apologies to Frankfurt-Rhine-Main).  As by Matt’s original the areas drawn reflect urban built up area, including suburbs, and do not reflect municipal boundaries.  It is also tough to decide where to stop, should Lübeck, Lüneburg and Bremen be included by Hamburg? Basel, Bern and Luzern could be included by Zurich. There is sometimes talk of the city agglomerate Vienna-Bratislava.

The population densities of all of these cities are similar and to get a feeling how they compare to other denser or more spread out cities one would need to combine the footprints with Matts graphic. Connecting neighbourhoods and city centres in these cities with a public transportation network is a lot easier than compared to Atlanta. One can interpret that the relatively flat geography of north Germany has enabled the growth of Hamburg and Berlin in all directions, whereas the geography of Zurich and Vienna with their mountains close by have impeded and channelled urban development around barriers.


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