How did the larger urban areas come to be?
The first individuals hunted and gathered. Both were based on chance and skill. Those who learned where the edible plants were that could sustain them, and animals that could nourish them, thrived. Since this was based upon the weather, season, and chance, some decided it was easier to feed certain animals, and grow those plants, rather than constantly move to different hunting and gathering grounds.
Individuals banded together into small farming communities for security from those predators who would take property or life. The agrarian society was limited by two main factors: carrying capacity and disease. As crowding occurred, individuals relocated further from the initial village, like the runners of a strawberry plant. Moving increased the carrying capacity as it decentralized. More plants could be grown, and more animals could be raised.
Some individuals grew tired of the agrarian life. They specialized their abilities, honing them into a better income generating occupation that would increase the number of goods and services and offer more stability. These individuals were sought out, especially by any centering force that brought cohesion to the collection of villages. The most powerful person, who could organize and control the other members, would gather these specialists into his immediate area. This generated value and income to that central village. Others, seeing that specialization brought more security and income, followed suit, especially young people. In many cases parents promoted the idea to increase the security of their children.
Chieftains and Kings arose. They needed specialists who could protect the leadership and extend it's power, or specialists who served the King. That group of specialists were considered more valuable than the others who did generalized labor. The latter was valuable and became a commodity. The former was considered more valuable and essential, the critical infrastructure of its day.
Populations shifted to the growing areas. The carrying capacity of that urban area though was greatly diminished. The only way that the urban area could exist at all was to ship in supplies from the outlying areas that were less densely populated and hence had greater carrying capacity. They were limited by the types of transportation, roads, ships, and the animals or people who could power them.
Some harnessed the wind, and these could transport the goods the furthest, but the cost was high in sailors. Many died due to weather, drowning, illness, nutritional deficiency, or hunger. A lack of wind to fill the sails could be disastrous. Most of these items were rare. They came from far away, and were priced accordingly.
Some grew tired of being in the second tier, and less valued. Their role was just as essential. In a sense it was more essential since the only way that the urban area existed, was through the cooperation of the villagers.
Threats though kept them quiet. Those threats didn't come very often. Most often the villagers were attacked since they had much of the wealth of essential supplies and since the power of the King and his soldiers was far away. Retribution occurred from the King, but rarely if ever did those goods return.
Some grew tired of this arrangement. Who was stealing from whom? Some dreamers wanted freedom from this kind of slavery. They moved further and further from the urban centers, away from the King and his control. The further away they moved, the more they became their own chieftains.
Income dropped off though. So did rare supplies. Loneliness set in. Communities allow goods and services to flow between its members.
Other came to the new areas seeking the same freedom. The same old patterns emerged. Specialization grew.
Kings saw the loss of income. The new areas could be new sources of power though. They declared that these new areas would be extensions of their kingdom. They couldn't easily impose their power though, not with the distance and transportation issues. The same issues of ship travel precluded the King from easily asserting his power.
There was only one solution: move the soldiers to the outlying areas. By doing so, the King could increase his income by imposing his power through military occupation.
Freedom is infectious. The taste of autonomy was far more powerful than any good or service that the King could tempt with. Chieftains and their followers resisted. Having lived and provided their own security for so long, and knowing the terrain, and being better supplied , they could fight more efficiently and successfully.
The King lost his battle with the Chieftains. It was expensive and unsustainable based upon logistics alone.
The Chieftains grew in power. They forgot why they came, seduced by power and greed. They redefined their role, and excused their behaviour. They imposed restrictions on freedom.
Those who loved freedom more than goods and services moved West across the great river that separated the new Kingdom. They were distant to the Chieftains. No threat to them. They helped the new urban areas by increasing the carrying capacity to stabilize. All was well.
The old King, inspired by the idea of colonies, started his own in Asia and Africa. It worked for a time.
The Pioneers in the West had difficulty. It was not unoccupied land. In fact, a separate group of Chieftains lived there in a stable way prospering. At first only minor skirmishes occurred. The population density was low, and hence the carrying capacity high.
More people got tired of the Chieftains and restrictions on Freedom. They knew that life out West could be prosperous. They lied to themselves that it was difficult. They ignored the fact that two-thirds of the people who traveled Westerward failed. Only a third stayed long enough to achieve land claims for five years. Disease, accidents, starvation, and boredom took the majority. Some dejected citizens returned to the new Kingdom's urban areas penniless.
Not only did the new Kingdom's citizens feel the pull of Freedom, people from other Kingdoms traveled to the New World, hungry for the promise of the West. Some lingered in the new Kingdom's urban areas, lured by its uniqueness and new found freedom. Much relocated Westward establishing their own villages, but banding together to be communities identifying with their former Kingdoms.
The Chieftains wised up. They were losing income. There were new markets that they could use to generate income. There were new modes of transportation that could safely move goods Westward, and purchase goods from those locations and bring them back East. These railroads allowed the movement of goods and people Westward.
Again a tiered society had been created. Western citizens were considered lesser than Eastern citizens. The Chieftains promised Statehood to the Western Chieftains. They were invited to send their own representatives to the East urban areas. By doing so, they could join with the Eastern Chieftains in determining the limits of Freedom. Sounds like an oxymoron to me.
Native Chieftain grew alarmed. Larger and larger influxes of migrating citizens encroached upon their hunting and gathering areas. Carrying capacity plummeted. Only by switching to agrarian villages or relocating to ever decreasing hunting grounds, could people cope, and most could not.
The income generated and the migrations served the Eastern Chieftains well. Imposing their power was difficult across the great River. The realized that sending military troops to occupy and support the Western States would be in their best interest. The railroads had a new function.
In the end, those with the most powerful goods that could project power won.