10 Largest U.S. Cities by Population
What is the largest city in the United States?
With a population of more than 8.1 million people, New York City is the largest in the United States. But which other cities make the top 10? To find out, we looked at the populations of U.S. cities as defined by the 2010 Census. Check out the video below to learn which cities are the largest and what metropolitan areas have the most residents.
10 largest U.S. cities by population
U.S. Census Bureau data is reported from a national count and post-count survey, which are conducted every 10 years. The last Census data is from 2010, so those official counts were used for this list. All areas reported are according to the Census cartographic boundaries.
1. New York City, NY – 8,175,133
If you’ve ever visited the area, it’s likely no surprise that NYC is the most populated city in America. In fact, New York is so big that it’s over twice the size of the next largest city! Along with being a global power city leading the way in finance, it’s also a forerunner in media, fashion, technology and entertainment. Whether they refer to it as the Big Apple, the Capital of the World, or the Empire City, 8.1 million residents call it home.
2. Los Angeles, CA – 3,792,621
While the 2010 Census shows more people moving out of California than into the state (about 100,000 more), L.A. is still the second largest city in the country. If you’re into warm weather, entertainment, and sharing the city with 3.8 million people, the “Creative Capital of the World” might be the city for you!
3. Chicago, IL – 2,695,598
The Windy City’s downtown area is one of the fastest growing in the nation — more than 48,000 people moved to downtown Chicago between 2000 and 2010. Chicago is also home to the world’s longest continuous street (South Western Avenue, which is over 23 miles long) and the largest free outdoor food festival, the Taste of Chicago.
4. Houston, TX – 2,099,451
Texas is the biggest state (by land area) in the contiguous U.S., and Houston is the largest city in the state. If you’re looking for a city that is culturally diverse, you may be intrigued to know that there are more than 90 languages spoken among the nearly 2.1 million residents.
5. Philadelphia, PA – 1,526,006
Philadelphia is the second largest city on the East Coast (behind NYC), and the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. With historical landmarks such as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, it’s easy to see why so many people find this city such a fascinating place to live.
6. Phoenix, AZ – 1,445,632
Because the city has a total area of 517.9 square miles (about 2,797 people per square mile), the residents of Phoenix have plenty of room to move around! Perhaps a move to the Valley of the Sun will provide the city life you’re looking for without all the crowding. In contrast, New York residents have 27,012 people per square mile.
7. San Antonio, TX – 1,327,407
The second Texan city on the list draws visitors with attractions like SeaWorld, Six Flags, the Alamo, and its downtown River Walk. The 1.3 million San Antonio residents have plenty to enjoy! The area also has a strong military presence — Fort Sam Houston, Randolph AFB and Lackland AFB make up the Joint Base San Antonio.
8. San Diego, CA – 1,307,402
As the second largest city in California (behind L.A.), San Diego is known for balmy weather, beautiful beaches, and its U.S. Navy presence. If you’re craving sun, sand and adventure, San Diego may be for you.
9. Dallas, TX – 1,197,816
You have Dallas to thank for the Super Bowl. Dallas man (and owner of the Kansas City Chiefs) Lamar Hunt, called the 1966 NFL Championship the “Super Bowl” and the name stuck. Dallas is still a leading sports city with the Cowboys (NFL), Mavericks (NBA), Rangers (MLB), Stars (NHL), Wings (WNBA) and FC Dallas (MLS) soccer calling the city home. If you move to Dallas, you can pick a favorite team or cheer for them all.
10. San Jose, CA – 945,942
The “Capital of Silicon Valley” is the only city on the list with under one million residents. But those residents get to enjoy San Jose's 301 days of sunshine per year on average, which is why more and more people are moving to the city.
Check out the infographic below to learn more:
U.S. cities with over 500,000 residents
Now that you know the top 10 largest cities in the U.S., check out which cities come in next on the list. Here are the cities with 500,000 residents or more:
- Jacksonville, FL – 821,784
- Indianapolis, IN – 820,445
- San Francisco, CA – 805,235
- Austin, TX – 790,390
- Columbus, OH – 787,033
- Fort Worth, TX – 741,206
- Charlotte, NC – 731,424
- Detroit, MI – 713,777
- El Paso, TX – 649,121
- Memphis, TN – 646,889
- Baltimore, MD – 620,961
- Boston, MA – 617,594
- Seattle, WA – 608,660
- Washington, D.C. – 601,723
- Nashville, TN – 601,222
- Denver, CO – 600,158
- Louisville, KY – 597,337
- Milwaukee, WI – 594,833
- Portland, OR – 583,776
- Las Vegas, NV – 583,756
- Oklahoma City, OK – 579,999
- Albuquerque, NM – 545,852
- Tucson, AZ – 520,116
10 largest metropolitan areas by population
What is a metropolitan area? People sometimes assume it’s an urban hub and surrounding areas, but the Census Bureau has an official definition. They call them Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), and they are actually defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget as areas with an urban core of at least 50,000 people (including one or more neighboring counties). There are 366 defined MSAs, but these are the largest:
1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA – 19,566,471
Since New York was so much bigger than any city, it’s natural that the New York Metropolitan area is the largest by far. It takes a lot of public transportation to serve all those people. In fact, if the tracks of the NYC Transit trains were laid end to end, they would reach from New York to Chicago!
2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA – 12,828,961
With the beautiful weather, it’s no mystery why so many people call the Southland, or Metropolitan Los Angeles, home. Fun fact: nearly 14% of LA’s energy comes from renewable resources and 80% of the city’s trash trucks run on natural gas.
3. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI – 9,461,550
The Chicago metro, or Chicagoland, holds about 75% of Illinois’ population, but only 3% of its land mass. This means the population density is 1,318 people per square mile. The area is also home to the largest public library in the world, the Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago.
4. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX – 6,426,241
This area is commonly called DFW or the Metroplex. It spans an area bigger than Rhode Island and Connecticut combined. The Metroplex is also home to the DFW airport, which is the second largest airport in the world, with 64 million passengers each year.
5. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD – 5,965,662
Residents call this area the Delaware Valley or “Greater Philadelphia,” depending on who you ask. It borders the New York metro area, giving residents many of options for careers and entertainment. There's always a game to watch, as this is the home of five professional sports leagues.
6. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX – 5,920,499
Greater Houston is one of the fastest growing regions in the country. When you combine this area with DFW, Austin and San Antonio, you get the giant Texas Triangle, or Texaplex, which is home to 70% of all Texans.
7. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV – 5,636,416
This is the largest metro area in the Southeast region, and it has a rich history. The Department of Homeland Security calls it the National Capital Region, while many locals call it the D.C. Area or DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia). There are over 140,000 government employees living in this area.
8. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL – 5,566,298
This region, called South Florida, includes the three largest counties in the state. If you want to move here, the market is tight, so shop around. In 2016, average home sales prices increased 39% from the previous 12 months.
9. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA – 5,286,725
Metro Atlanta spans over 30 counties and is home to over half of the population of Georgia. With the world’s largest fiber-optic bundles, it’s the most wired city in the U.S. It’s also home to several TV stations, with CNN, Turner Broadcasting, and The Weather Channel calling this area home.
10. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH – 4,552,595
Most people call the area surrounding the city as Metro Boston, but the entire MSA covers most of the eastern third of Massachusetts. Many “firsts” happened here — the first public beach, the first subway and the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth.
Check out the heat map of the 10 largest metro areas below. This graphic gives an insight into these 10 largest cities.
Do you live in one of the largest cities in the U.S.?
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