Cities in the United States


According to the Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, “Cities, unlike states, are not mentioned in the Constitution. Many other important collective institutions in our society, such as corporations, are not mentioned in the Constitution either. In its effort to determine the constitutional status of cities, the Supreme Court” decided about it in some cases.

Legal Materials

To look up the population of a city, look in the blue pages of Martindale-Hubbell or search U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Finder. To find out the county in which a U.S. city is located, you can also look in the blue pages of Martindale-Hubbell or search NACO’s City-County Search. You could also search the city as the “Feature Name” in the USGS Geographic Names Information System. The Information System will also tell you the city’s population, elevation, latitude and longitude.

To find the mayor of a particular city — or to get basic biographical info on a mayor — search the Meet the Mayors database posted by the United States Conference of Mayors. For more information, or if that doesn’t work, (a) try the city’s Web site and/or (b) search a database of articles from local newspapers.

For information on life in a particular major city, check out CitySearch or find other Internet sites using Yahoo! or another search engine. You can find out a lot about the major cities from the tourist guide books sold in bookstores.

To get local business news, check out a city specific business newspaper, such as the relevant Crain City Publication (e.g., Crain’s New York Business) or Business Journal(e.g., the Baltimore Business Journal); these publications are often included in online news databases.

To check out a city’s economy, see economic indicators posted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics .

Mergent’s Municipal and Government Manual gives a financial profile of larger cities. You can get annual financial reports filed by cities that issue bonds and their debt ratings through the MSRB’s EMMA database. You can also get debt ratings from the individual rating agency web sites listed in the “Debt Ratings” entry.

The tax laws of larger cities are published in the CCH State Tax Reporter for the relevant state. (Note: If you don’t have access to the looseleafs, online versions of the CCH State Tax Reporters are available on Westlaw.)

For more specific information, search for entries (in the Encyclopedia) on selected cities by name.

See Also

Judicial Districts
Local Laws
Metropolitan Areas
Municipal Bonds

Finding the law: Cities in the U.S. Code

A collection of general and permanent laws relating to cities, passed by the United States Congress, are organized by subject matter arrangements in the United States Code (U.S.C.; this label examines cities topics), to make them easy to use (usually, organized by legal areas into Titles, Chapters and Sections). The platform provides introductory material to the U.S. Code, and cross references to case law. View the U.S. Code’s table of contents here.

Cities: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Cities. This part provides references, in relation to Cities, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Cities by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Cities and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Cities or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Cities and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Cities. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Cities should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Cities when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

*This resource guide is updated frequently. However, if you notice something is wrong or not working, or any resources that should be added, please notify us in any of the "Leave a Comment" area.

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