Quad County Towns, Crowdsourced

I knew I barely scratched the surface with Quad County Towns, a collection of municipalities that sprawled across the boundaries of four different counties. Examples were surprisingly difficult to find. I turned it over to the Twelve Mile Circle audience who quickly doubled my feeble efforts by appending comments. I hadn’t planned on writing a sequel, however, the crowdsourced contributions warranted further research, mapping and recognition.

Barrington Hills, Illinois

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Reader "MWD" offered Barrington Hills in Illinois. The village included territory in Cook, Lake, McHenry and Kane Counties. It also had a fascinating history, begun as a weekend getaway for wealthy Chicagoans who retreated to rural estates for genteel activities such as fox hunting across the open spaces and hobnobbing at the local Country Club. Chicago’s population continued marching westward for the first half of the Twentieth Century so Barrington Hills’ residents formed a village to block encroaching suburbanization. It remains an equestrian community that protects its rural character by strictly enforcing 5-acre minimum zoning.

Kansas City, Missouri

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Kansas City, MO seemed obvious once "KCJeff" pointed it out. The city, which is completely independent of its counterpart with the same name on the other side of the state line, crossed into Jackson, Cass, Clay and Platte counties. Kansas City included land rather convincingly within each of the counties except Cass.

I drilled-down into Kansas City’s minor incursion into Cass County and noticed an airport runway. The boundary jogged around the southern edge of the runway. A little sleuthing uncovered this as part of the former Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base that was shut in 1994 due to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) effort. Apparently Kansas City wanted the entirety of the Air Force Base within its boundaries. Annexing a tiny territory in Cass County was the only way to accomplish that. Today the former base is used for a variety of public and private purposes.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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"John Deeth" mentioned Oklahoma City’s borders extending into Oklahoma, Canadian, Cleveland, and Pottawatomie counties. I’ve always loved this location because the state is Oklahoma, the county is Oklahoma and the city is Oklahoma. However I need to amend that now, to recognize that there are parts of Oklahoma City that do not conform to the mantra, those parts in Canadian, Cleveland, and Pottawatomie.

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Only the tiniest sliver of Oklahoma City crossed into Pottawatomie County. The Google Street View car burrowed deep into the Pottawatomie nob, revealing the rustic image reproduced above. This is Oklahoma City? Indeed it is. I’ve examined the nob extensively in satellite mode and I cannot determine any intuitive reason for the city to annex this particular plot. Nothing seemed to distinguish it from any of the surrounding terrain.

Bellevue, Ohio

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I have bad news for "Greg" — I don’t think that Bellevue, Ohio crossed into Seneca County. We should count this as a near-miss. In all fairness to Greg, he acknowledged that as a distinct possibility. I tried to corroborate the assertion made in Wikipedia ("a city in Erie, Huron, Sandusky and Seneca counties") and could not find any evidence to support Seneca. Even the street map on the City of Bellevue website stopped directly on the Seneca County line but it did not cross it.

I believe the burden of proof is on Wikipedia to cite a proper reference for the four counties claim. There are many organizations and businesses in the area that are called "four county" this-and-that, and the Bellevue Public Library‘s district "is a rarity in Ohio with borders in four counties." Perhaps that’s how the confusion arose, or maybe there was a recent annexation not yet included on the city’s maps. I couldn’t find it.

I’d enjoy adding one more location to the quad towns list so I hope someone can prove me wrong, or at least update Wikipedia if the evidence isn’t forthcoming. Several Wikipedians subscribe to 12MC. Maybe someone can fix that.

Honorable Mentions

"Greg" also mentioned New York City, as did Ariel Dybner. The famous five boroughs are also counties: Brooklyn; Manhattan; Queens, Staten Island and The Bronx. I almost included NYC on the earlier article. It hit the cutting-room floor due to time and space constraints.

New York City is a wonderful anomaly however the counties are effectively non-functional. I talked about this in one of the earliest 12MC articles, Smallest County in the USA, Part 2. An 1898 city-consolidation created a unified New York City under a unique arrangement sometimes described as sui generis ("one that is of its own kind"). The minor, residual county governance that remained after consolidation was undone by a 1989 United States Supreme Court decision, Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris. NYC is a case of the tail wagging to the dog until the tail actually became the dog. I do believe it’s unique and therefore it doesn’t quite fit the category.

Then "Mike Lowe" offered the peculiar history of Broomfield, Colorado. Today it’s a combined city-county, however it was split between Adams, Boulder, Jefferson and Weld Counties until 2001. Broomfield is both one of the smallest and one of the newest counties in the United States. The City and County of Broomfield said:

To help alleviate the problems and confusion in accessing services with the City of Broomfield being the only city in the state to lie in portions of four counties, residents sought relief in a constitutional amendment creating a City and County of Broomfield.

In other words, Broomfield set itself up as a separate county specifically because it was tired of dealing with the peculiarities of sprawling across the boundaries of four separate counties.

Thank you everyone for the contributions!

12 Replies to “Quad County Towns, Crowdsourced”

  1. Re: NYC; “The minor, residual county governance that remained after consolidation was undone by a 1989…” isn’t quite right as there’s still “residual county governance”…at least when it comes to courts and jury duty. When I lived in Brooklyn in the late 1990s I was called up for King County jury duty. Pretty sure this is still the case. Very minor quibble!

    1. It sounds similar to Connecticut, Rhode Island, and parts of Massachusetts, where county government has been functionally eliminated but counties remain as administrative subdivisions of state-level governmental organizations, such as the judicial system.

  2. Allentown, Georgia is another one of those circular Georgia towns which includes an accessible quadripoint (Wilkinson/Laurens/Bleckley/Twiggs) within its limits. To find it I went to the city hall (closed), but called the listed telephone number of the mayor. He was out of town, but referred me to another resident, who, after I contacted him, drove me in his converted golf cart to the monument at the quadripoint. All in all a very interesting experience. (I just got back from a trip in which I was able to bag an additional 277 county lines – now 16,531 – including 9 quadripoints in Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa.)

  3. This talk about county quadripoints reminds me: I was surprised years ago, when looking at a county map of my home state of Ohio, that even though many of the counties are straight-liney and right-angle-y, there are only two county quadripoints in the state AFAIK. It makes me wonder how common it is to have boxlike counties that are based on so many different survey origins and/or metes and bounds that quadripoints are basically coincidental.

  4. I believe that one of the issues Broomfield had is that Boulder County has much more stringent development regulations than the other three (mostly championed by the City of Boulder). Broomfield was in the far corner of the county and much more closely tied to Denver, with relatively little interest in Boulder’s ideas of a growth boundary.

  5. I work around many librarians in Oklahoma and decided to ask one of them about the oddity of Oklahoma City in Pottawatomie county. I’ll let my helper remain nameless although he deserves the credit. That section was annexed to secure control over a railroad that served Tinker Air Force Base. Around here, Tinker means a lot to the local economy so they are constantly doing what they can to prevent any chances of losing it. The annexation occurred in 1961. It was pointed out to me that you can see the path that the railroad formerly took going West – East on that strip and then heading up to the NW towards Tinker AFB.

    1. I love it! Indeed, now that you’ve pointed it out, the former path becomes visible (map). One can even get a faint glimpse of it in Street View, mostly overgrown although a gap in the trees still visible (image). Much obliged hipsterdoofus, and please pass along my regards to the nameless librarian.

  6. Centralia, IL includes territory in Marion, Clinton, Washington, and Jefferson counties, although the Washington/Jefferson portions are admittedly pretty small. On a side note, the bordering town of Wamac is so named because it lies within three of those counties – “Wa” for Washington, “ma” for Marion, and “c” for Clinton.

  7. Not to be outdone by our “big brother” OKC, but Tulsa is also a quad-county town (Tulsa, Rogers, Wagoner & Osage counties).

  8. My current hometown of Aurora IL is in the 4 WIKADUKE counties: Will, Kane, DuPage, Kendall.

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