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The American fondness for size, of which generations of visitors have declaimed, finds decennial expression in the national census. Bigness, as such, furnishes a goal to strive for, a competition open to the spawning aggregations of humanity called cities. That any particular merit attaches to sheer size has not been proven; nevertheless a community feels peculiar pride that its census takers had to count high.
Although understandable, the psychology behind the love of the stupendous would seem to deserve amused tolerance rather than active championship. The estimate of the Census Bureau which places Boston eighth among American cities, rather than seventh as in 1920, appears to be no vital calamity. Yet the Boston Evening Transcript editorially considers this demotion sufficient reason for uniting the city and its suburbs into a multiple municipality. The smoky sections of Somerville, the placid regions of Newton, the bustling parts of Cambridge, all would be taken under the maternal, Bostonian wing to swell the statistics of population.
Amalgamation, it is true, might bring certain conveniences of administration; or just as easily a greater opportunity for corruption. Certainly, integration simply for the sake of a larger total of humanity under a single name is scarcely desirable.
The lumping together of a greater number of individuals than a rival community can boast is not in itself a contribution to happiness. Not even as an aid to advertising is a high relative rank important, since every business man shrewd enough to be successful looks for facts behind the figures.
For one's home city to be seventh rather than eighth in the country by reason of a congestion of human beings is no particular asset. Save to the mythical western senator who travels through Europe in after dinner speeches, size is not an absolute measure of value. And Boston might indeed discover quiet achievements dedicated to the happiness of its citizens to be a suitable substitute for statistical boasting.
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