Most researchers trace the origin of the concept of megaregions to French geographer Jean Gottman's 1961 study Megalopolis: The Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the United States. Gottman used the term megalopolis to describe a continuous string of economically linked metropolitan areas spanning from the northern suburbs of Boston to the southern suburbs of Washington, D.C.
Since the identification of the Northeast Megalopolis in 1961, the concept of megaregions has been slowly moving from planning theory into planning practice. The megaregion provides an empirically grounded concept for addressing both challenges and opportunities related to the systems that directly impact both regions and local communities, but which span across larger geographic scales. The Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development (CQGRD) at the Georgia Institute of Technology now identifies nine megaregions across the United States.
The Multimodal Planning at the Megaregional Scale project team developed a regional planning framework that looks at areas where regional planning agencies can engage and presents recommendations based on the defined scope of the long-range transportation planning process.