VILLAGE, The. The term village is pop ularly applied in the United States to any. small community with less than 500 popula tion. It is thus popularly and loosely dis tinguished from the town (not to be confused with the New England town) and the city. In a few of the older eastern States cPennsyl vania, Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia) the designation °borough° is used for one or more of these classes of small municipalities.
The incorporation laws of more than half the States do not provide for incorporated vil lages, but only for towns and cities. In gen eral the older States are the. more conservative in this inatter, New 'England incorporating only a very few of the many villages communities within her towns. Kansas knows only one class — the °city.° This legal practice seems to be the evidence of the urban ambitions of stnall communities in this rapidly growing nation.
These incorporation laws, moreover, are very liberal in allowing conununities, almost without restriction even as to number of peo ple, to incorporate either as villages, towns or cities. In some cases a minimum popula tion is required, but there is usually no limita tion on the form of incorporation adopted, al though• such are beginning to appear in some States. Consequently there are many ex tremely small incorporated municipalities of the village type, and even of the town and city classes. This again is indicative of an ambi tion for public improvements and services which only grants of power to the higher grades of municipality can effect.
There were no such small municipalities in the Colonial period, and reluctance even to incorporate communities which had every possibilty of becotning places of import ance. There were less than a score of incorporations down to the fime of the Revolution, but at that time and immedi ately after much greater liberality was shown, and the number of municipalities grew rapidly. But the villages and towns had still no local self-government, although special laws were frequently passed allowing powers as local improvement districts, for fire protection, drains and the like. Out of these and prob ably first in New York State came the prac tice of incorporating villages. Later general laws were enacted, but it is only within very recent years that a system of village law is beginning to take form.
Consequently, this country presents to-day the unique and characteristic phenomena of some 12,000 incorporated places under 2,500, largely towns and cities. Since the United States ccnsus considers only communities of more than 2,500 population as urban, these may be said to constitute the village proper. More than half of these are of less than 500 popula tion. Nor does this include the many hundreds of unincorporated villages and towns in New England where practically every town has one and usually several. Their total population is More than 8,000,000.
To these incorporated places should be added the many' thousands of hamlets, or as they are popularly called, villages, found in all parts of the United States. The best conunercial atlases designate 75,000 °places° of stated population (50 up). These are pretty villages, often in land from railroads. They are more frequently found, and are less populous, in general in the alder eastern and southern States. Conservatism as to incorporation is here greater than in newer sections, hence a considerable number of them are of quite large population (100 up). There are on the average, therefore, several of these for every incorporated place. Their total population is probably more than 5,000,000.
Thus this village sphere of community life includes about one in eight of the American people. It is neither urban nor rural in its characteristics. It is distinctly intermediate. In the past the village has turned toward the town and city-, but now more and more is related to the rural. Neither urban nor rural can be rightly judged until this large intermediate vil lage sphere is separated from them. Many characteristics attributed to rural life arc due to the inclusion in the rural of this class of communities, and the same is true of our judg ment of the urban sphere. Villages should not be included with the population of the open country, nor with the town and city proper. Indeed, many communities of several thousand population are often essentially country towns, whose population is recruited from the farm ing. population, and whose business and social interests are bound up with the surrounding farm district.