In the United States, the meaning of "village" varies by geographic area and legal jurisdiction. In many areas, "village" is a term, sometimes informal, for a type of administrative division at the local government level. Since the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution makes local government for the most part a matter for the states rather than the federal government, the states are free to have political subdivisions called "villages," or not to do so, and to define the word in many different ways. Typically, a village is a type of municipality, although it can also be a special district or an unincorporated area. It may or may not be recognized for governmental purposes.

Informal usage[edit | edit source]

In informal usage, a U.S. village may be simply a relatively small clustered human settlement without formal legal existence.

In colonial New England, a village typically formed around the church meetinghouses that was located in the center of each town.[1] Many of these colonial settlements still exist as town centers. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, industrial villages also sprang up around water-powered mills, mines, and factories.[1] Because most New England villages were contained within the boundaries of legally established towns, many such villages were never separately incorporated as municipalities.

A relatively small unincorporated community, similar to a hamlet in New York state, or even a relatively small community within an incorporated city or town, may be termed a village. This informal usage may be found even in states that have villages as an incorporated municipality and is similar to the usage of the term "unincorporated town" in states having town governments.

Formal usage[edit | edit source]

States that formally recognize villages vary widely in the definition of the term.[2] Most commonly, a village is either a special district or a municipality. As municipalities, a village may

  1. differ from a city or town in terms of population;
  2. differ from a city in terms of dependence on a township; or
  3. be virtually equivalent to a city or town.

Alaska[edit | edit source]

Under Article 10, Section 2 of the Alaska Constitution, as well as law enacted pursuant to the constitution, Alaska legally recognizes only cities and boroughs as municipal entities in Alaska.[3] In Alaska, "village" is a colloquial term used to refer to small communities, which are mostly located in the rural areas of the state, often unconnected to the contiguous North American road system. Many of these communities are populated predominately by Alaska Natives and are federally recognized as villages under the Indian Reorganization Act and/or the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. As voting membership in the Alaska Municipal League is on an equal footing, regardless of population, most villages are incorporated as second-class cities. In common usage, however, these communities are thought of more often as villages than as cities.

Delaware[edit | edit source]

Municipalities in Delaware are called cities, towns, or villages. There are no differences among them that would affect their classification for census purposes.

Florida[edit | edit source]

Municipalities in Florida are called cities, towns, or villages. They are not differentiated for census purposes.

Idaho[edit | edit source]

All municipalites in Idaho are called cities, although the terms "town" and "village" are sometimes used in statutes.

Illinois[edit | edit source]

Municipalities in Illinois are called cities, towns, or villages. Cities usually have aldermen elected from defined districts or wards. Villages usually have trustees elected at large. Towns are usually merged with the local township and may be of a Village or City style governance.

Louisiana[edit | edit source]

A village in Louisiana is a municipality having a population of 1,000 or fewer.

Maine[edit | edit source]

In Maine, village corporations or village improvement corporations are special districts established in towns for limited purposes.

Massachusetts[edit | edit source]

All of the land area in Massachusetts is allocated to incorporated municipalities called either a city or town. Some municipalities (such as Newton, Massachusetts) have villages, and where they exist they are the equivalent of neighborhoods, which usually have no corporate existence and no official boundaries or government recognition. Sometimes villages and neighborhoods are recognized incidentally, through declarative signs, parking districts, or names used by the United States Post Office.

Maryland[edit | edit source]

In Maryland, a locality designated "Village of ..." may be either an incorporated town or a special tax district. An example of the latter is the Village of Friendship Heights.

Michigan[edit | edit source]

In Michigan, villages differ from cities in that, whereas villages remain part of the townships in which they are formed, thereby reducing their home-rule powers, cities are not part of townships. Because of this, village governments are required to share some of the responsibilities to their residents with the township.[4]

Minnesota[edit | edit source]

Villages that existed in Minnesota as of January 1, 1974, became statutory cities, as opposed to charter cities. Cities may or may not exist within township areas.[5]

Mississippi[edit | edit source]

A village in Mississippi is a municipality of 100 to 299 inhabitants. They may no longer be created.

Missouri[edit | edit source]

The municipalities of Missouri are cities and villages. Unlike cities, villages have no minimum population requirement.

Nebraska[edit | edit source]

In Nebraska, a village is a municipality of 100 through 800 inhabitants, whereas a city must have at least 800 inhabitants. All villages, but only some cities, are within township areas. A city of the second class (800-4,999 inhabitants) may elect to revert to village status.

New Hampshire[edit | edit source]

In New Hampshire, a village district or precinct may be organized within a town. Such a village district or precinct is a special district with limited powers. The New Hampshire Association of Village Districts has a website at

New Jersey[edit | edit source]

A village in the context of New Jersey local government, refers to one of five types and one of eleven forms of municipal government. Villages, like other municipalities, are not part of a township.

New Mexico[edit | edit source]

The municipalities in New Mexico are cities, towns, and villages. There are no differences among them that would affect their classification for census purposes.

New York[edit | edit source]

In New York State, a village is an incorporated area that differs from a city in that a village is within the jurisdiction of one or more towns, whereas a city is independent of a town. Villages thus have less autonomy than cities.

A village is usually, but not always, within a single town. A village is a clearly defined municipality that provides the services closest to the residents, such as garbage collection, street and highway maintenance, street lighting and building codes. Some villages provide their own police and other optional services. Those municipal services not provided by the village are provided by the town or towns containing the village. As of the 2000 census, there are 553 villages in New York.

There is no limit to the population of a village in New York; Hempstead, the largest village in the state, has 55,000 residents, making it more populous than some of the state's cities. However, villages in the state may not exceed five square miles (13 km²) in area. Present law requires a minimum of 500 residents to incorporate as a village.

North Carolina[edit | edit source]

The municipalities in North Carolina are cities, towns, and villages. There are no differences among them that would affect their classification for census purposes.

Ohio[edit | edit source]

In Ohio, a village is an incorporated municipality with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants (not including residents of educational or correctional facilities).[6] The minimum population for incorporation as a village is 1,600 inhabitants, but this was not always the case, resulting in many very small villages.[7] If a village grows to 5,000 residents, it is automatically designated as a city. Cities or villages may be within township areas; however, if a city or village becomes coterminous with a township, the township ceases to exist as a separate government (see Paper township).[8]

Oklahoma[edit | edit source]

In Oklahoma, unincorporated communities are called villages and are not counted as governments.

Oregon[edit | edit source]

In Oregon, one county — Clackamas County — permits the organization of unincorporated areas into villages and hamlets. The boards of such entities are advisory to the county.[9]

Pennsylvania[edit | edit source]

In Pennsylvania, villages are unincorporated areas within townships. Villages are oftentimes census-designated places. The largest village in Pennsylvania is Upper Darby.

Texas[edit | edit source]

In Texas, villages may be Type B or Type C municipalities, but not Type A municipalities. The types differ in terms of population and in terms of the forms of government that they may adopt.

Vermont[edit | edit source]

In Vermont, villages are named communities located within the boundaries of a legally established town. Villages may be incorporated or unincorporated.

Washington[edit | edit source]

In Washington state, there is no legal definition of a village. Local municipalities are classified as first-class cities, second-class cities, and towns (also called fourth-class cities), with successively fewer governing powers, based on population at the time of incorporation. Colloquially, some areas are called villages, such as the Town of Beaux Arts Village.

West Virginia[edit | edit source]

In West Virginia, towns and villages are Class IV municipalities, i.e., having 2,000 or fewer inhabitants.

Wisconsin[edit | edit source]

In Wisconsin, cities and villages are both outside the area of any town. Cities and villages differ in terms of the population and population density required for incorporation.

References[edit | edit source]

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