My home town has a population of about 30,000. That's about the same as the city of Bangor, Maine, only about 10,000 less than the population of the city of Salem, Massachusetts. Nearby towns' populations include 10,000 (town), 34,000 (town, notably the fourth most populous region in the state) 11,000 (town), 47,000 (city), 60,000 (city) and 7,000 (town). In the middle of the night. During the day, the population rises to about 70,000, as people come to work, shop or visit.
I think my home town should be considered a city, but a lot of people in town disagree. So, I went to Google to see whether I was right:
So, I'm right by about half of those definitions. But I went to Wikipedia for more detail, and I found this list of 10 metrics by archaeologist V. Gordon Childe:
- Size and density of the population should be above normal. (Check)
- Differentiation of the population. Not all residents grow their own food, leading to specialists. (Check)
- Payment of taxes to a deity or king. (Uncheck -- but that's only a political difference)
- Monumental public buildings. (We have some nice buildings)
- Those not producing their own food are supported by the king. (Uncheck)
- Systems of recording and practical science. (Check)
- A system of writing. (Check)
- Development of symbolic art. (Check, despite the anti-artistic attitude of a lot of residents)
- Trade and import of raw materials. (Check)
- Specialist craftsmen from outside the kin-group. (Check)
But that's for ancient cities. Looking for something more recent, the same Wikipedia article lists the differences between towns and cities in various countries. In the US, particularly New England, the difference comes down to government:
In all of the New England states, city status is conferred by the form of government, not population. Town government has a board of selectmen or Town Council for the executive branch, and a town meeting for the legislative branch, but unlike the US Government, the executive acts only as an administrative body and cannot override the will of town meeting. New England cities, on the other hand, have a mayor for the executive, and a legislature referred to as either the city council or the board of aldermen.
The article on New England towns has more details:
Most cities are former towns that changed to a city form of government because they grew too large to be administered by a town meeting.
My home town is governed horribly -- it's clear we're far too unwieldy in size to be governed by a town meeting. But unfortunately, the local old people are obsessed with the fact that they used to have dirt roads and live on farms. So, a town we will remain, until they die.