Our concern in this volume is with the politics of state–local relations. Yet it is difficult to understand these relations without understanding the other elements and interactions in the broader web of intergovernmental relations. How localities interact with the states depends, in part, on how they interact with the federal government and, as we detail in later chapters, other localities. In this chapter we examine the broad pattern of federal–state–local relations, focusing on the importance of the federal government in the system of vertical federalism and on the development of relations among governments at the three levels.