List of most populous city in each U.S. state in 1950

List of most populous city in each U.S. state in 1950

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[I have cross-posted this question on the opendata.stackexchange (see here) but would like to benefit from your expertise as historians as well.]

I am looking for a list with the most populous cities in each state in 1950 including information on their population. Where could I find such a list?

Note, I have found several lists of say, the 100 largest cities in the US as of that time, but it is important for me to know the single-most populous city for every state (some of which were quite small and do not appear on any top 100 list).

Edit: I just realized that cross-posting is not received very well on stackexchange (see this meta post). If this makes my question on this site inappropriate, please close it.

Census information from 1950 can be read in Census of Population: 1950: Number of inhabitants, By United States. Bureau of the Census

Table 24, pages 1-48 thru 1-64 contains the populations of each city in each state, alphabetical by state. Whatever you need is in there.

On a guess at what you don't have, here's some excerpts:

- ALASKA Anchorage 11,254 - ARKANSAS Little Rock 102,213 - HAWAII Honolulu 248,034 - IDAHO Boise 34,393 - MAINE Portland 77,634 - MISSISSIPPI Jackson 98,271 - MONTANA Great Falls 39,214 - NEVADA Reno 32,497 - NEW HAMPSHIRE Manchester 82,732 - NEW MEXICO Albuquerque 96,815 - NORTH DAKOTA Fargo 38,256 - SOUTH CAROLINA Columbia 86,914 - SOUTH DAKOTA Sioux Falls 32,695 - VERMONT Burlington 33,155 - WEST VIRGINIA Charleston 73,501 - WYOMING Cheyenne 31,935

Any other states you need, should be in the linked table.

The Largest Cities In The World By Population

Earth is constantly evolving, changing from day-to-day. As its population continues to grow, cities are getting more crowded and resources are becoming increasingly scarce. Looking back to ancient times, researchers estimate that the worlds’ population in the year 1,000 AD was anywhere from 275,000,000 to 300,000,000. Today, it is thought to be in the neighborhood of 7,787,190,943 five years ago, it was thought to be around 7.2 billion.

Out of all the countries on the globe, China has the largest population, which exceeds 1.4 billion. India comes in a close second with 1.355 billion, and the United States comes in third at around 328 million. It makes sense that some of the largest cities in the world are in Asia since these and other countries are so highly populous.

The World's Most Populous Countries

This table provides figures about the 50 most populous nations in the world as of 2021. China is the most populous country with nearly 1.4 billion residents. Since India's population is less than 50 million behind China there could be a time when India surpasses its neighbor country in population, although it is hard to gauge the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic on population growth around the world. The estimated world population is 7.8 billion as of 2021.

The majority of the population is located in the eastern half of the country. Its dependency Hong Kong would, by itself, rank around 100 in a list of countries.

A very high population density exists throughout the country, apart from the deserts in the northwest and the mountains in the north.

Very densely populated urban areas are clustered along the east and the west coasts. California and Texas, the two most populous states, account for about one quarter of the population.

Java is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

The Punjab province is the most densely populated area in Pakistan.

Most residents live along the Atlantic coast in the eastern part of the nation.

Nigeria isthe most populous country in Africa. It recently became the continent's largest economy as well.

Bangladesh is not just one of the most populous countries but is also one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

Siberia has a population density of approximately three people per kilometer. Siberia has one-twelfth of the world's land mass.

Approximately a quarter of the population lives in and around Mexico City.

The population is most dense along the coasts, due in part to the islands' mountains and the distribution of arable land.

The Philippines population finally surpassed 100 million in 2014.

Approximately 95 percentof the population lives within 20 kilometers of the Nile River and its delta.

The median age in Ethiopia is just under 18 years, making it one of the youngest countries (despite the country itself being very old).

Kinh people, or "ethnic vietnamese" account for about 85% of Vietnam's population, but are concentrated in only half of the country. There are 53 other recognized ethnic groups in Vietnam.

The country is the world's largest francophone country. French might be the most common, as it's taught in schools, but it shares the stage with more than 200 other local languages.

Azerbaijanis constitute almost a quarter of the population. The nation's population is concentrated in the north, northwest, and west.

The population is densest around Istanbul, but the largest share of the population actually lives on the south coast.

Germany is the most populous country in Europe, with especially high concentration along the Rhine.

The largest concentrations of population in France are located in the north and the southeast, clustered around a few major historic cities.

The United Kingdom's population density is one of the highest in the world, centered in the capital city of London.

Thailand has actually lost ranking on the list due to a highly successful government effort to reduce the growth rate.

Unlike a lot of other countries, the population of Italy is pretty evenly distributed throughout the country.

South Africa has received a steady rate of immigration for the past two decades, mainly from other African countries.

The population of Tanzania is highly concentrated at the edges of the country, on the northern border or the coast. Dar es Salaam houses over 10% of the population.

The population of Myanmar is actually a bit difficult to pin down, due to various problems with the census-taking. Official estimates in the early 2010s placed the population much higher.

More than 70 percent of the country is mountainous so most of the populated is located in lowland areas.

Most Colombians live in the mountainous western region of the countryor on the northern coastline.

Kenya did not reach the top 50 of the of most populated countries until the 1970s.

The largest urban populations are found near the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts--aside from the populous areas of Madrid, Sevilla and Zaragoza.

Roughly one third of the Argentinianpopulation lives in Buenos Aires.

Most of the population is located along the Mediterranean Coast in the north, with very sparse population in the desert south.

Northern Sudan is sparsely populated aside from an area near the banks of the Nile.

Ukraine actually used to rank higher on the list, prior to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Uganda hosts over 1 million refugees, making up

If one were to include Iraqis who were displaced or moved since the 2003 invasion, Iraq would rank up to ten spots higher.

Nearly two thirds of Poland lives in urban areas, making it one of the most urbanized countries on the list.

The most populated province in Canada is Ontario, followed by Quebec and British Columbia.

Roughly half a million people live in the disputed area of Western Sahara.

The population in Saudi Arabia has changed incredibly rapidly in the past 60 years, the country went from being a majority nomadic to having 80% of the population live in just ten cities.

Uzbekistan, aside from having a large Uzbek population, has a major historic Korean community. Many Koreans were relocated by the Soviets in the 1930s, and have lived in Uzbekistan ever since.

Eighty percent of the population resides on the Malay Peninsula.

Afghanistan has the highest fertility rate of any country outside of Africa.

The official figure here has actually been revised in some reports to a much lower figure as a result of recent troubles in Venezuela.

Over a quarter of the Peruvian population is identified as Amerindian, mainly Quechua.

The capital Luanda houses about 10% of the country's population, and is ten times larger than the next largest city.

The coastal areas, the Ashanti region, and the two principal cities, Accra and Kumasi are among the most densely populated parts of the country.

Less than half of Mozambique speaks their official language, Portuguese, as a first or second language.

Nepal's overall population density is low. The two areas of concentrated population include the southern plains of the Tarai region and hillycentral part of the country.

The majority of the population is found in the Asir Mountains in the west.

Source: CIA World Factbook and United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

You May Also Be Searching For

You can learn about these countries and more on our Countries of the World page.

To see which countries have the most people per square mile, check out our list of most densely populated countries.

1800 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_section_1

See also: 1800 United States Census § City rankings List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_sentence_18

List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_table_general_1

Rank List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_header_cell_1_0_0 City List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_header_cell_1_0_1 State List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_header_cell_1_0_2 Population List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_header_cell_1_0_3 Notes List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_header_cell_1_0_4
1 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_header_cell_1_1_0 New York List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_1_1 New York List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_1_2 60,514 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_1_3 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_1_4
2 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_header_cell_1_2_0 Philadelphia List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_2_1 Pennsylvania List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_2_2 41,220 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_2_3 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_2_4
3 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_header_cell_1_3_0 Baltimore List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_3_1 Maryland List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_3_2 26,514 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_3_3 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_3_4
4 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_header_cell_1_4_0 Boston List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_4_1 Massachusetts List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_4_2 24,937 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_4_3 Listed as a town. List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_4_4
5 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_header_cell_1_5_0 Charleston List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_5_1 South Carolina List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_5_2 18,824 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_5_3 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_5_4
6 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_header_cell_1_6_0 Northern Liberties List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_6_1 Pennsylvania List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_6_2 10,718 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_6_3 A neighborhood of Philadelphia annexed in 1854. List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_6_4
7 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_header_cell_1_7_0 Southwark List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_7_1 Pennsylvania List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_7_2 9,621 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_7_3 A neighborhood of Philadelphia annexed in 1854. List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_7_4
8 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_header_cell_1_8_0 Salem List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_8_1 Massachusetts List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_8_2 9,457 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_8_3 Listed as a town. Today, Salem is a city. List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_8_4
9 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_header_cell_1_9_0 Providence List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_9_1 Rhode Island List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_9_2 7,614 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_9_3 Listed as a town. Last appearance in the top 10. List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_9_4
10 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_header_cell_1_10_0 Norfolk List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_10_1 Virginia List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_10_2 6,926 List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_10_3 Only appearance in the top 10, and only appearance of a city in Virginia in the top 10. Listed as a borough. Now an independent city. List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_cell_1_10_4

The total population of these 10 cities was 216,346. List of most populous cities in the United States by decade_sentence_19

Most Democratic States

1. Hawaii

With a PVI of D+18, Hawaii is the most democratic state in the United States. Hawaii joined the United States in 1959 and first participated in the presidential election in 1960. Hawaii has voted Democratic in every election except in 1972 and 1984. Hawaii native President Barack Obama won Hawaii in 2008 and 2012, earning over 70% of the vote in both elections.

2. Vermont

Vermont is the second-most Democratic state in the U.S. with a PVI of D+15. Vermont joined the Union in 1971 and has participated in every presidential election since 1792. Vermont was primarily Republican from 1854, when the party was founded, through 1988 except for the 1964 election. Vermont has been blue (Democratic) since 1992. Vermont is home to the 2020 presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders.

3. California

California is the third-most Democratic state in the U.S. and by far the largest. California has 55 electoral votes, the most of any state and more than 10% of all available electoral votes. California’s Partisan Voting Index is D+12. California was not always Democratic and voted Republican in every election from 1952 to 1988 except for 1964. The state has consistently been Democratic since 1992 and is projected to vote Democratic in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

4. Maryland

With a PVI of D+12, Maryland is tied with California as the third-most Democratic state in the U.S. Being one of the original 13 colonies, Maryland entered the Union in 1788 and has participated in all 58 presidential elections. Maryland has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992, including in the most recent 2016 election where Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton beat Republican Donald Trump 60% to 34%. Maryland is expected to vote Democratic in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

5. Massachusetts

Massachusetts is also tied with California and Maryland for the number three spot in the most Democratic states with a PVI of D+12. Like Maryland, Massachusetts was one of the 13 colonies and joined the Union in 1788. Massachusetts has participated in every presidential election since then and has voted Democratic every election since 1928 except for four. In the most recent 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton easily beat Donald Trump 60% to 33%.

6. New York

New York is tied with California, Maryland, and Massachusetts as the third-most Democratic state in the U.S. with a PVI of D+12. New York has the third-highest number of electoral votes of 29, behind California (55) and Texas (38). New York has voted Democratic since 1988. New York, especially New York City, is known as one of the most progressive states in the nation, with very strict gun laws, a push towards legalizing recreational marijuana, and NYC being one of the nation’s most LGBTQ-friendly cities.

7. Rhode Island

With a PVI of D+10, Rhode Island is the seventh-most Democratic state in the United States. Rhode Island was the last of the 13 colonies to enter the Union in 1790. Rhode Island has also voted reliably Democratic in every election since 1928 except for four. Rhode Island is expected to vote Democratic again in the 2020 presidential election.

8. Illinois

Illinois is tied as the eighth-most Democratic state in the U.S. with a PVI of D+7. After becoming a state in 1818, Illinois voted mostly Republican until the 1920s and then voted primarily Democratic through the Great Depression and World War II. Illinois began voting Republican again until 1992 and has voted Democratic in every election since then. Illinois is the largest electoral state in the Midwest with 20 electoral votes and is expected to vote Democratic again in the 2020 election.

9. New Jersey

New Jersey also has a PVI of D+7, tying it with Illinois as the nation's eighth-most Democratic state. New Jersey is also one of the original 13 colonies and joined the Union in 1787. New Jersey has participated in all 58 presidential elections, going through periods of consistent Republican voting and consistent Democratic voting. Since 1992, New Jersey has voted consistently Democratic and is projected to vote Democratic in the upcoming 2020 election.

10. Washington

Washington’s PVI of D+7 ties it with both New Jersey and Illinois has the seventh-most Democratic state. Washington has voted in every election since joining the Union in 1889, with periods of voting Republican and periods of voting Democratic, including during the Great Depression and World War II. Since 1988, Washington has voted Democratic in every presidential election and is expected to vote Democratic in the upcoming 2020 election.

World City Populations 2021

What are the most populated cities in the world? Here is a list of the top ten most populated cities in the world:

    (Population: 37,435,191) (Population: 29,399,141) (Population: 26,317,104) (Population: 21,846,507) (Population: 21,671,908) (Population: 20,484,965) (Population: 20,283,552) (Population: 20,185,064) (Population: 20,035,455) (Population: 19,222,665)

It is perhaps unsurprising that the majority of the most populous cities in the world are in the two most populated countries in the world, China and India. Among these are Shanghai and Beijing, with populations of 25 and 22 million respectively, Delhi (27 million), and Mumbai (over 21.5 million).

However, Tokyo is the largest city in the world if the entire Tokyo metro area is included, with a total of more than 38 million residents. Another Japanese city, Osaka, also has a very large population of almost 20.5 million. There are also a number of non-Asian cities with high populations, including Mexico City (over 21 million), Cairo (almost 19.5 million), and Buenos Aires (almost 15.5 million).

Of the European cities, Istanbul is the most populous, with more than 14.5 million residents. This is followed by Moscow (over 12 million) and Paris (11 million including the Paris metro area). These cities are of course also culturally significant and between them welcome millions of tourists each year.

There are quite a number of popular and culturally rich cities that have smaller populations, often making for higher living standards for their residents. Barcelona, Sydney, Berlin and Vancouver all have fewer than five million residents, but are very popular choices for city living. There are also some comparatively very small cities with big cultural, historical or political reputations, such as Sarajevo (314,000), Edinburgh (502,000), and Venice (631,000), demonstrating that small cities can be highly significant regardless of the size of their population.

The 50 most miserable cities in America, based on census data

We've identified the 50 most miserable cities in the US, using census data from 1,000 cities, taking into consideration population change (because if people are leaving it's usually for a good reason), the percentage of people working, median household incomes, the percentage of people without healthcare, median commute times, and the number of people living in poverty. (See the data and how we weighted it here.)

Often, these cities have been devastated by natural disasters. They've had to deal with blight and with high crime rates. Economies have struggled after industry has collapsed. These cities also tend to have high rates of addiction.

The state with the most miserable cities was California, with 10 in the top 50. New Jersey was second, with nine, and Florida had six.

Here are the 50 most miserable cities in the US, based on US census data.

Editor's Note: We have updated the story headline to make clear that the ranking was based on US census data, and included a link to the data in the story.

Most Populous Cities of the World

For the first time in human history, a majority of people live in urban environments. The world's largest cities today fall under a class that researchers call "megacities," with a population of over 10 million people.Tokyo, the largest city in the world, has a population of 38,140,000. nearly four times that number. Of the nearly 8billion people on Earth, 7% of them live in megacities. Learn a bit more about these massive settlements, how they compare, and how we got our rankings.

Note: Population figures given are in millions

Despite its huge prominence today, Tokyo (then Edo) only began its growth after the beginning of the Tokugawa Shogunate. It grew from a few thousand around 1500, to 1,000,000 by the early 1700s.

Delhi, the heart of numerous kingdoms and empires, has been inhabited continuously since at least the 600s BC it is mentioned in the epic Mahabharata, which takes place a few centuries before that.

Shanghai may be China's largest city following 1990's economic reforms, but its resident speak their own minority language. Shanghainese uses its own rules for writing, and when spoken is mutually unintelligible with Mandarin.

Although Delhi is listed with a higher population, Mumbai's city proper is the most populous in India. Not only that, but Mumbai is the wealthiest city in India. Bollywood is located in Mumbai.

So Paulo isn't just populous, it's one of the most diverse cities in the world with 196 significant national populations. At one point the city had a majority immigrant population.

Beijing is one of the oldest cities in China, with plenty of history to show. Among its many historic sites, the first Peking Duck restaurant (which opened in the 1400s) still operates in the city today.

Mexico City, identified as the Federal District (Distrito Federal) until 2016, is the oldest capital and largest city in the Americas. The city is also one of only two capitals to be founded by Amerindians, the other being Quito, Ecuador.

On top of its feudal history and powerful economy, Osaka's most prominent facet is its food culture. Osaka has historically been an important trade region for crops, and the foods from Osaka are some of the best loved in all of Japan. This metropolitan area also encompasses the historic cities of Kobe and Kyoto.

Cairo has led two very different lives, and led much of the world with it. The Ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis is contained in the modern city, which itself was the capital of the Fatimids and Ayyubids from the 900s-1200s.

New York's reputation and reach are outsize for its age. People have lived around New York for a long time, but the city (thenNew Amsterdam) wasn't founded until the 1600s, making it one of the youngest on the list. Newark, New Jersey is technically in a different state, but the two cities are very closely linked. And, depending on the metrics, New York-Newark is the only U.S. cities close to megacity status. Los Angeles and Chicago are both much smaller by population.

Although different estimates will rank them differently, Dhaka is the largest Muslim city on our list outside of the Middle East. Under the Mughals, Dhaka was widely known as the City of Mosques.

Perhaps coming as a surprise due to the region's ancient history and importance to the Mughals, the city of Karachi is the youngest city on this list. It was founded in 1723 to protect Omani interests.

Buenos Aires is one of the wealthiest, most vibrant, and most diverse cities in the world. It might rank even higher on our list if it didn't share the banks of the Rio de la Plata with Montevideo, another beautiful city right across the bay.

Kolkata is yet another beautiful city in India, home to artists and intellectuals. One crowd you're more likely to find here than elsewhere, though, is fans of India's top two Association Football teams, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.

Most people know that Istanbul was Constantinople, but many people aren't aware of the name's origin. From the Greek eis tan polin, "to the city," the name marks the city's history and importance in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Chongqing may not be as large as Beijing or Shanghai, but during the Second Sino-Japanese War it was at the heart of Chinese resistance against the Japanese occupation, earning its nickname as the City of Heroes.

Lagos was once a small port, and an infamous center in the slave trade. Despite not being a singularly administered city, and not the capital of Nigeria, Lagos has grown to become the largest and wealthiest city in Africa.

Manila, from the start, has been intercultural the city was chartered by Spain after taking it from Brunei, who seized it from China. These influences have led to Manila having some of the world's most beautiful and unique architecture.

Another wartime capital of China, in this instance Guangzhou was the final mainland bastion of the Republic of China against the PLA. This connection to Taiwan helped the city greatly when China opened up trade.

Among former colonies, Rio de Janeiro has a very unique claim to fame. This coastal city became the capital of the governing Portuguese Empire, when the court relocated. It was then the capital of the Empire of Brazil.

Source:United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2016).

What's a City?

While people will generally agree that a city is a close area with a lot of buildings and people, defining what counts as a city for demographic purposes can be tricky. PerWorld Urbanization Prospects, there are three basic ways to determine a city: there's the city proper, which is just the legal bounds of the city itself there's the urban agglomeration, which includes all connected urban area or densely settled areas around the city and then there's the metropolitan area, which includes the range of suburbs and communities wherein much of the population regularly commutes into the city.Mostof these numbers are urban agglomerations, but some are not, either due to tradition or due to particular characteristics about that city. The city with the widest disparity between these figures isJakarta, with about 10,000,000 in the city proper and 30,000,000 in the agglomeration.

The Urban World

According to the most recent figures from the United Nations, over 50 percent ofthe world's populationlives in an urban environment. That number is expected to reach 60 percent by 2030. Today, 23 percent of the population lives in cities exceeding one million in population, and 7 percent of the population specifically lives in megacities of more than ten million. There are 512 cities with at least 1 million people, but only 31 megacities.

Of megacities, a substantial majority are inthe Global South. China is home to six megacities, and India has five. China and India collectively account for 7 of the 20 cities on our list. Japan, Brazil, and the United States are the next best represented with two megacities apiece, and 5 on our list.

What's Changing?

The most substantial changes in urban populations have been in China and sub-Saharan Africa. China has been undergoing rapid urbanization since the restructuring of their economy in the latter portion of the twentieth century. By 2030 China is expected to attainyet another megacity, marking a clear departure from its agrarian past. 20 major cities in China are currently growing at double the global average rate, such as Hong Kong, which has doubled in size in the past six decades.

In Africa, due to rapid population growth and urbanization, three new countries will host megacities within the next decade and a half:JohannesburginSouth Africa,LuandainAngola, andDar-es-SalaaminTanzania. Additionally, the cities of Lagos,Nigeriaand Kinshasa,DRCare projected to continue their meteoric rise, going from 17th and 23rd place to 9th and 12th, respectively. This can likely be attested to improved access to health services, and the nations' increasing shares of global GDP.


The map below shows the 100 largest cities in the United States by population.

The table below lists these 100 largest cities, their 2013 populations, their current mayors, when mayors took office, when current mayoral terms expire, the approximate total expenditures of the city budget, and whether each city held municipal elections in 2020.

Although a majority of these cities hold nonpartisan elections, the table below states the partisan affiliation of most of their mayors. Ballotpedia determined the partisan affiliation of each mayor in one of three ways: by cross-checking multiple media outlets that identified someone as affiliated with one political party by verifying that a mayor previously ran in a partisan election for another office or by contacting the mayors directly.

The table also describes the types of government used by America's largest cities. Each type has a different distribution of power and responsibilities between the mayor and the city council. The types of government are:

  • Strong mayor: The city council serves as the city's primary legislative body, and the mayor serves as the city's chief executive.
  • Council-manager: An elected city council—which includes the mayor and serves as the city's primary legislative body—appoints a chief executive called a city manager to oversee day-to-day municipal operations and to implement the council's policy and legislative initiatives.
  • City commission: A city council, composed of an elected mayor and a board of elected commissioners, serves as the city's primary legislative and administrative body.
  • Hybrid: The city council serves as the city's primary legislative body, and the mayor serves as the city's chief executive. The mayor, however, appoints a city manager to oversee the city's day-to-day operations and to implement city policies.

Largest cities in North America by population

Mexico City, Mexico

The single most populous city in North America is quite expectedly Mexico City. The capital of the country of Mexico, its enormous metropolitan area contains 21.2 million people. Not only does this incredible figure make it the most populated city of North America, but also in the western hemisphere. Almost 9 million people live in the capital itself and they are spread across 1,485 square kilometres. Having done the math, or letting us do it for you, you’ll realise that there are 6,000 people per square kilometre.

‘City of Hope’, as some call it, is continuously sinking, much like Venice but with far more people attached. Founded next to a lovely lake called Texcoco, this city has had an amazing and rich history. Today, it is not only the richest country of Latin America but also the cultural and educational centre for many people. It’s one of the top travelling destinations, a fact hampered only by its worrying crime rate. In spite of that, throngs of tourists descend upon Mexico City each year to have the time of their lives. More and more people report that the crime has gone down in the past couple of years and that Mexico City is getting increasingly safer.

New York City, USA

The next entry on our list is the one that was probably the easiest to foresee. ‘The Big Apple’, Times Square and Manhattan are names and titles most people in the world have heard of. New York City has the largest metropolitan area of all North American cities, amounting to stunning 34,490 square kilometres. About 20.3 million people live in this combined area that includes New Jersey, the surrounding islands and places such as Bridgeport and New Haven. The capital itself has almost 8,623,000 citizens living in 1,213 square kilometres.

New York City was originally the first capital of the United States of America. It became so in 1789 but was moved to Philadelphia one year later. Being such a huge city that it is, New York is the cultural and urban centre of the US, and some extend that honour to the rest of North America. Considering its worldwide reputation and cultural significance, it would be unwise to assume anything else. Many people of different ethnic groups call it their home, making it a global metropolis, not just North American. Another proof to support that claim is the fact that it’s where the United Nations headquarters are. Also, the Statue of Liberty!

Los Angeles, USA

Where to start with this one? Let’s get the numbers out of the way first and then we’ll get to details. Los Angeles is the third largest city in North America, with the metropolitan population of 13.3 million people. The inner core is 1,302 square kilometres large, with about 4 million people living there. The total population includes counties of Riverside, Ventura and San Bernardino.

The City of Los Angeles is known worldwide by its iconic abbreviation – L.A. It presides over the western part of the United States, serving as an economic and cultural centre. When you take Hollywood and its global recognition into consideration, it seems to be a cultural powerhouse of the entire Earth. Its constant representation in movies puts it on par with New York in terms of popularity. Despite its cultural significance, it is no less important industrially. It used to be one of the biggest oil producers in the early 20th century and still is one of the best, at least in the US. Among other things, this has led to the economic power it enjoys today, making it wealthier than some of the richest countries in the world.

Chicago, USA

Metropolitan area of this, one of the largest cities of North America, amounts to 9.5 million people. Known as Chicagoland, Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metropolitan area is among the largest cities in North America. While the core of Chicago, Illinois takes up ‘only’ 606 square kilometres, it still has a decent population of 2.6 million people.

Just like all the other urban centres on this list, Chicago also boasts a multitude of cultures combined in one place. Besides multiculturalism, it also exhibits high-brow culture in its many museums and art galleries. Since the incorporation of Chicago as a city in 1837, it has been a place of great importance both industrially and economically. One of the most amazing engineering feats took place here when the flow of the Chicago River was reversed, stopping its flow into Lake Michigan. It’s also home to the world’s first skyscraper built in 1885. American politics are deeply intertwined with Chicago as it hosted the first televised presidential debate in history! The list goes on and on, making the reasons for Chicago’s contemporary status more transparent.

Dallas – Fort Worth, USA

More than 7.2 million people live in Dallas – Fort Worth metroplex – and yes, metroplex is a word! It is most commonly associated with this particular instance, a metropolis complex consisting of two cities. Together, they take up a massive 24,059 square kilometres chunk of land, making it nearly as big as New York City. All that land really does allow for larger groups of people to live here, making this area one of the biggest in North America.

Dallas definitely has the lead when it comes to United States culture. Although most of the things coming from Dallas aren’t that valuable to foreigners, Americans sure know how to appreciate them. We’re, of course, talking about 7-Eleven, cheerleaders and Superbowl. Its economic history is deeply rooted in marketing and selling of products resulting in the Dallas Market Center Complex that we know today. The population of this city exploded after World War II, making Dallas one of the most populated cities in North America.

Houston, USA

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area comprises a place that is much better known as Greater Houston. It boasts 6.6 million people living in an area of 26,061 square kilometres. Greater Houston has seen one of the fastest population increases in all of the United States – it grew by a quarter in just 10 years during the 90s. It is also the second biggest area in Texas, after Dallas – Forth Worth metropolitan complex. Houston, when left on its own, has got only 2.3 million people that settle 1,623 square kilometres.

Houston, Texas is quite an amazing city really. It has got a very rich culinary scene, prompting more people than anywhere else in the United States to eat out. Whether it’s fast food joints or classy, modern restaurants – Houston has it all. Above that, there are some of the largest and most advanced hospitals in the world. Much like other cities on this list, it blends different cultures and brings them all together. A proof to that claim is that Houston was the first city in the US to have a Hindu Mandir!

Toronto, Canada

Greater Toronto Area is home to at least 6.4 million people living in a metropolis that encompasses Halton, Peel, York and Durham. Together, they take up 7,124 square kilometres of land, while individually, Toronto covers only 630 square kilometres. It is the capital of the most populous province of Ontario and subsequently the most populous city in Canada. The city itself has got a population of 2.7 million people.

Toronto is the seat of Toronto Stock Exchange which serves as headquarters of five largest banks in Canada. Moreover, it is the seat of culture, inviting people to come and visit its rich tapestry of art. All major broadcast networks are in Toronto, doing their best to showcase the city’s various cultural offerings. These include a great selection of movies, music and large numbers of art galleries. Much like in Houston, the culinary scene of Toronto is nothing short of incredible. There are so many restaurants and bars that it’s quite natural to get lost in all the options.

Washington, USA

Washington metropolitan area is almost the same size as that of Toronto. Today, it has got about 6.3 million people covering the area of 14,412 square kilometres. Washington area is the sixth largest metropolis of the United States and eighth largest and among the most populated cities in North America.

Besides being the modern capital of the United States, Washington is also one of the most popular tourist destinations. There is quite a lot to be seen and even more to be done in Washington D.C: take a ride on a ferry and visit one of the many islands surrounding it, see its glorious waterfalls, volcanoes and mountain peaks.

You can also visit the great political and historical monuments of the US, as you’re literally at the heart of the establishment! If we’re judging cities by population then Washington is of no relevance to us. However, if we’re discussing its cultural and societal merits, it simply begs a visit.

Philadelphia, USA

With 6.1 million people and more than enough territory at its disposal, Philly, as it’s colloquially called, made it on our list of largest cities in North America by population. Even though Philadelphia itself harbours about 1.7 million people, its metropolitan area is significantly larger.

Philly has got quite a lot to its name – United States Marine Corps was founded here, the first zoo and even the Philadelphia Mint. Moreover, its historical importance is not to be shunned. The city has amazing 67 historical heritage sites that really show how cultured and important Philly is. One of the places that hold great importance in the history of the United States is Independence Hall where the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence have both been signed. It doesn’t come as a surprise then that this is also the city where the first US flag came to be.

Miami, USA

The largest metropolitan area in Florida goes by a couple of names – call it Miami metro, Greater Miami Area or even South Florida. It encompasses 15,890 square kilometres and about the same number of people as in Philly call it home – 6.1 million.

What’s interesting about Miami is that it is the only city in the US founded by a woman – Julia Tuttle. It also boasts the highest quality nightlife and some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. A good follow up to that piece of information is that tan lotion was invented in this city for obvious purposes. Lovely, deep waters hide many shipwrecks so diving is also a big thing here. There are many art and culture centres just so you know, lest you think that Miami is all about beaches and zero culture! When everything else fails, tourists can go on one of the luxurious cruise ships and enjoy themselves.

Atlanta, USA

About 5.8 million people live in Metro Atlanta, or as it’s otherwise recognised by the US government as Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell area. Metro Atlanta, Georgia covers 21,694 square kilometres, which comes close to the size of the state of Massachusetts.

Have you ever wondered why the symbol of this spectacular city is a phoenix? The reason for that is because it has risen from the ashes and established itself as one of the biggest cities in the United States. General Sherman burned it to the ground, almost completely destroying it. Only a couple of hundred buildings remained, making it the only city in the United States to be destroyed during a war. Atlanta is also renowned in the world of sports, even hosting Olympics in 1996.

If you decided to travel around the United States by plane, you’ll soon find out that Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the busiest one in the world. The terminal needed to be continuously expanded in order to successfully manage all the traffic. Today, it’s bigger than 40 football fields! The reason for all this air traffic is Atlanta’s proximity to every other airport in the US.

Guadalajara, Mexico

The last entry on our list and also the twelveth most populated city in this region of the world is Guadalajara in Mexico. Its metropolitan area now includes a bit over 5 million people, which is significantly less than other megalopolises of North America. It is definitely not even possible to compare it to Mexico City, but it’s large and highly populated nonetheless.

The city of Guadalajara has come a long way, considering the fact that it was founded by a cruel, unforgiving tyrant. Not only has the city moved away from its past, but it has also become the Silicon Valley of Mexico. The startup culture has really taken of these, attracting talent (and investors) from all over the country. Don’t worry if the technology is not your cup of tea! There is also more than little culture to be had in this adorable Mexican city. You might get an opportunity to take part in the International Film Festival. You may also look forward to one of the biggest book fairs that peddle books written in Spanish. Obviously, there is much more to learn about Guadalajara, it’s one of the undiscovered gemstones of Mexico.

Honourable Mentions

There are many other great cities and metropolitan areas in North America. However, they don’t come close or compare to any others on this list and they’re also less influential. Moreover, they are not as populated, making them less valuable for this particular compilation of cities. Nonetheless, they deserve a spot in honourable mentions: