BosWash is a name coined by futurist Herman Kahn in a 1967 essay describing a theoretical United States megalopolis extending from the metropolitan area of Boston to that of Washington, D.C. The publication also coined ‘SanSan’ for the areas on the Pacific coast of California.

The general concept for the area described by BosWash was first identified in French geographer Jean Gottmann’s 1961 book ‘Megalopolis: The Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the United States.’ Kahn’s essay was the product of a study commissioned in 1965 by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Kahn discussing urbanization, began by writing: ‘The United States in the year 2000 will probably see at least three gargantuan megalopolises. We have labeled these—only half frivolously—’Boswash,’ ‘Chipitts,’ and ‘SanSan.”

Virginia Tech’s Metropolitan Institute outlined an area it labeled the ‘Northeast’ megapolitan area, which it views as extending beyond Boston and Washington – past Portland, Maine and Richmond, Virginia – and described it as one of ten such areas in the United States.

In the 2005 study, titled ‘Beyond Megalopolis,’ researchers analyzed Google search results to determine plausible names for the regions, rejecting terms such as BosWash, stating: ‘We decided that combined place names seemed contrived and offered little chance for eventual adoption. Therefore, labels such as ‘BosWash’ to refer to the Northeast or ‘SanSac’ in reference to the combined San Francisco and Sacramento metropolitan areas were not considered.’


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