Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Jun 28th 2007 at 9:46am UTC

New York Still #1; Phoenix overtakes Philly

New numbers on the largest cities in the U.S. from the Census Bureau.


New York continued to be the nation’s most populous city, with 8.2 million residents. This was more than twice the population of Los Angeles, which ranked second at 3.8 million.  The estimates reveal that Phoenix moved into fifth place ahead of Philadelphia, the latest evidence of a decades-long population shift. Nearly a century ago, in 1910, each of the 10 most populous cities was within roughly 500 miles of the Canadian border. The 2006 estimates show that seven of the top 10 — and three of the top five — are in states that border Mexico.  Only three of the top 10 from 1910 remained on the list in 2006: New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. Conversely, three of the current top 10 cities (Phoenix; San Jose, Calif.; and San Diego) were not even among the 100 most populous in 1910, while three more (Dallas, Houston and San Antonio) had populations of less than 100,000.  California had seven cities among the 25 fastest growing, leading all states.  Phoenix had the largest population increase of any city between 2005 and 2006, adding more than 43,000 residents to reach 1.5 million. However, Texas dominated the list of the 10 highest numerical gainers, with San Antonio, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and Dallas each making the top 10. North Las Vegas; Miami; Charlotte, N.C.; and San Jose, Calif., rounded out the list of the 10 biggest numerical gainers.  Overall, eight Texas cities were among the 25 biggest numerical gainers to lead all states.  (press release here)

posted by Kevin Stolarick

5 Responses to “New York Still #1; Phoenix overtakes Philly”

  1. DJM Says:

    Really interesting stuff Kevin. Interesting that San Jose is a gainer to given all the hype over loss of competitiveness visa via China and india and the cost of doing biz/living in the Bay Area….

  2. Stephen Downes Says:

    > seven of the top 10 — and three of the top five — are in states that border Mexico.

    eah, but global warming and drought will drive people back north again.

  3. Norris Says:

    Keep in mind that when we’re comparing the populations of various US cities we’re essentially comparing apples to oranges. Better to compare metropolitan areas to metropolitan areas due to the fact that city lines – more often than not – are drawn along arbitrary lines as opposed to population centers. Not only that, but a metropolitan population will probably fluctuate less over a given period of time than the population of a single city. Therefore, a city with a generous town line will have a disproportionately larger population than a city that has historically more conservative town lines, even though the “smaller” city has the larger metropolitan population.

    On this list, Jacksonville, FL ranks #12 at 794,000 while Boston, MA (my favorite city) comes in at #22 with 590,00. However, when I consult my trusty World Almanac, I see that (metropolitan wise) Boston is the 10th largest metro area in the country (at 4.4 mil) while Jacksonville is the 45th largest (at 1.1 mil). So to break this down into a baseball analogy, if Jacksonville is so big, why don’t they have a major league baseball team? And if Boston is so small, how are they able to field a competitive team year after year and win the World Series in 2004? The simple answer my dear friends, is that Boston has roughly four times the larger metropolitan population than Jacksonville.

    That and we’re the most dedicated baseball fans!


  4. Richard Says:

    Norris – Great comment. Of course the city populations reflect the different eras of development. Older cities can no longer annex their suburbs while younger, southern cities do. So, yes, metro population (and economic activity) is better. Still, there is great hype around this, so we need to report and discuss. In Who’s Your City, we have developed the first ever estimates of economic activity for metro and mega-regions world wide. This is a better calibration.

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