Which U.S. cities are the largest?
Of the 308.7 million Americans accounted for in the 2010 Census, more than 24.5 million (or 7.9%) of them make up the United States’ 10 largest cities. That’s a lot of people in just 10 cities! As you can probably guess, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are the top three. But you may be surprised by some of the others that rank. Whether you live in or are moving to one of the largest U.S. cities, or you’ just curious to learn more, this resource will provide some fun and informative facts about our country’s most populated areas.
The top 10 largest U.S. cities by population
Every 10 years, the United States Census Bureau conducts a national count called the Decennial Census. The goal is to “count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.” Because the Census Bureau reports the most accurate number of people, we’re using their data for our lists. The Bureau reports all areas according to the Census cartographic boundaries.
1. New York City, NY – 8,175,133
If you’ve ever visited the area, it’s no surprise that NYC is the most populated city in America. It’s so big that it’s more than twice the size of the next largest city! Along with being a global powerhouse 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. And who knows, you may end up living next door to a celebrity or becoming the star of an Academy Award-winning film!
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. It’s is also home to world-famous entrepreneur Walt Disney, the world’s longest continuous street (South Western Avenue, which is more than 23 miles long) and the largest free outdoor food festival, the Taste of Chicago. And if you decide to live in The City That Works, you’ll likely never be bored. Check it out: Chicago has over 5,000 restaurants, more than 250 theaters, 225 music venues, 200 dance companies, 56 museums, 580 parks, 26 beaches and much more!
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. It’s a major hub for industries like technology, aerospace, medical research and oil, and is home to NASA’s Johnson Space Center. You can also find the headquarters of more than 20 Fortune 500 companies. And if you’re looking for a city that is culturally diverse, you may be intrigued to learn 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. And fun fact: Philadelphians eat more pretzels per capita than anywhere else. The average U.S. citizen eats up to two pounds per year, while Philly residents eat up to 12 pounds each! After a good snack, explore historic landmarks like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.
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. You might be surprised to find out that San Diego has the most number of farms in the U.S., totaling 7,000. Even more surprising? Famous singer-songwriter Jason Mraz owns one of these farms — a 5.5-acre piece of land where he and his family grow avocados. If you’re craving sun, sand, adventure and have a desire to try farming, 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 remains a leading sports city with the Cowboys (NFL), Mavericks (NBA), Rangers (MLB), Stars (NHL), Wings (WNBA) and FC Dallas (MLS) calling the city home. If you move to Dallas, you can pick a favorite team or cheer for them all. Other fun activities include riding the Ferris wheel at the State Fair of Texas (the biggest fair in the country), walking through an indoor rainforest at the Dallas World Aquarium and appreciating the arts at dozens of galleries throughout the area.
10. San Jose, CA – 945,942
The Capital of Silicon Valley is the only city in the top 10 with fewer than 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 there. You can also enjoy touring the Winchester Mystery House, strolling through the breathtaking Alum Rock Park and eating authentic (and rumored as the best) Japanese cuisine in Japantown.
Moving to one of the largest U.S. cities?
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Looking ahead: The 2020 Census
The next Census begins April 1, 2020, and the U.S. Census Bureau will release an official count later that year. With a growing population of nearly 330 million Americans, it’ll be interesting to see where populations have increased and if any new cities have made it to the top 10 list. Learn more about the 2020 Census here.
Have additional fun facts about any of the biggest cities? We’d love to hear from you! Just leave a comment below.
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