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Annexation is a procedure that enables a city to grow by expanding its boundaries to include neighboring territory. It is closely related to the idea of consolidation, a process that enables two or more cities to merge into one larger government. Virtually every major American city has grown either through annexation or consolidation.

Annexation has had a long history in the United States. In the nineteenth century, annexation and consolidation produced America's largest cities. New York, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia— along with many others—grew enormously. New York City expanded from approximately 44 to 300 square miles, and Chicago from 10 to 185 square miles. Boston grew to almost 30 times its original size. Philadelphia increased even more dramatically: from 2 to 130 square miles. Although suburbanization ...

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