In previous posts, this blog discussed cities situated in interesting geographical and geological places including those:
- Aside and along straits like Detroit and Istanbul.
- On meteor craters like Sudbury and Hampton Roads.
- On or near active/dormant volcanoes like Edinburgh and Honolulu.
- Along linear river and mountain valleys like Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
- On an isthmus such as Madison, Seattle, and St. Petersburg, Russia.
This new post reviews those cities that are situated on an island or an archipelago of islands. Since many people recognize the former 1960s situation comedy, Gilligan’s Island, I thought an appropriate term to use would be “Gilligan cities.” Not to say these cities are lost at sea, but more that cities established on islands have unique challenges they face because of their geographic location. I also thought the title sounded fun. : )
While there are numerous villages, towns, and small cities located on islands, to make this post manageable here’s a list of those larger cities around the world that are primarily situated on an island or islands. I have not included cities located on an island nation unless the city occupies all or the vast majority of the island as Singapore does.
- Abu Dhabi, UAE
- Atlantic City, New Jersey
- Bainbridge Island, Washington
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Galveston, Texas
- Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
- Hong Kong, China
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Key West, Florida
- Laval, Quebec, Canada
- Lagos, Nigeria
- Male’, Maldives
- Manama, Bahrain
- Marco Island, Florida
- Merritt Island, Florida
- Mercer Island, Washington
- Miami Beach, Florida
- Mombasa, Kenya
- Montreal, Quebec, Canada
- Mumbai, India
- Newport, Rhode Island
- New York City, New York
- Singapore, Singapore
- Stockholm, Sweden
- Venice, Italy
While being proximate to shipping channels and major water bodies is a definitive advantage that many Gilligan cities have over their mainland counterparts, due to their offshore location these cities also face some unique issues and challenges that mainland cities do not. These issues include, but are not limited to:
- Infrastructure costs associated with providing and maintaining transportation access to and from the island either by bridge, ferry, or tunnel.
- Potential for such access to be cut off from the mainland.
- Confined space, unless the city can expand onto the mainland – finding adequate land for airports, sewage treatment plants, landfills, stadiums, and other large land uses can be daunting and expensive.
- Potential for severe traffic congestion due to the confined space. On the plus side, there is also the potential for greater usage of mass transit for the same reason.
- Potential for greater building densities and higher land prices/construction costs due to confined space.
- Potential lack of easily accessible fresh water sources and other natural resources.
- Environmental hazards from rising sea levels, coastal storms, and tsunamis.
- Difficulty evacuating the island in an emergency.
Needless to say, urban planning takes on whole new dimensions when dealing with an island location. I would interested in hearing from any planners who work in island cities about other unique planning issues they encounter. Any additions to this list would also be appreciated. I was quite surprised to find that wikipedia does not have a category for this topic.