Fair enough. Growing up in semi-rural southeastern Connecticut, I always hated Hartford. (Not really.) But, this map built by Reddit user Alexandr Trubetskoy shows -- in stark terms -- how much of the country's economic activity (as measured by the gross domestic product) is focused in a remarkably small number of major cities.
In a 2011 analysis by the Brookings Institution, the think tank put hard data to just how critical big cities are to the state -- and national -- economy. Wrote Alan Berube and Carey Anne Nadeau:
In 15 states, one large metropolitan area alone accounts for the bulk of economic output. These states are located in every region of the country, from Massachusetts (Boston) and New York (New York) in the Northeast, to Georgia (Atlanta) in the South, to Illinois (Chicago) and Minnesota (Minneapolis-St. Paul) in the Midwest, to Colorado (Denver) and Washington (Seattle) in the West. In a further 16 states, just two metropolitan areas generate the majority of GDP, including California (Los Angeles and San Francisco), Michigan (Detroit and Grand Rapids), Oklahoma (Oklahoma City and Tulsa), and Texas (Dallas and Houston).
Consider that. In 31 states, one or two metro areas account for the vast majority of economic output in the state. Those numbers make clear that while you may like to hate on big cities, you -- and we -- need them.