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A microtown is a municipality with less than 500 residents that is not part of the suburbia of a neighboring city. (Such towns might also be known as villages and hamlets.) Microtowns used to be prevalent in the West and Midwest United States in the 18th and 19th centuries as people moved for cheaper land and started their own municipality. Today, a microtown is usually a strong sign of a locality's decline, as people have moved away to seek more prosperous opportunities elsewhere, although many such places still exist today, always in rural America. The smallest documented microtown is in Maine with a population of exactly one (it is legally a town), although a town usually has some degree of independence. A population of zero is a ghost town.
The term microtown has also been used to describe the birth of a new town center, predominantly on the edge of an existing town in low rent buildings and warehouses where entrepreneurial businesses congregate. This is a growing phenomenon that is seen in towns where the conventional centers struggle to find retail tenants following the financial crisis of 2007-2008.
Examples of microtowns
- Homestead, Iowa, population 103
- Calvin, North Dakota, population 27
- Fredonia, Kentucky, population 425
- Hiseville, Kentucky, population 220
- Easton, New Hampshire, population 256
- Fortescue, Missouri, population 51
- Harmony, California, population 18
- Weeki Wachee, Florida, population 12
- Whiteface, Texas, population 465