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Top 50 Cities in the U.S. by Population and Rank

America's Big Cities

America's largest city is New York City, by far. The city itself has more than twice as many people as Los Angeles, and the New York-Newark urban area is the country's only megacity.

These numbers do not necessarily reflect the size of their different metro areas. Washington D.C., Boston, and Dallas-Fort Worth are three major instances where the city proper is ranked very differently from the urban area. DFW is usually clumped together for urban studies. Washington and Boston's urban areas are both usually in the top 10, rather than the low 20s. 

The table below lists the largest 50 cities in the United States based on population. While some cities have kept their ranking fairly stable, others showed large leaps. For example, Phoenix, Arizona, has grown from a city of 983,403 residents in 1990 to the country's fifth largest. Austin, Texas, nearly doubled its population, and it continues to see a large number of new residents each year.

Some cities, such as Detroit, have decreased in population. The Motor City, which once had 1.8 million residents in the 1950s, went down to a population of 1,027,974 in 1990 and has continued to decline.

Looking to get around some major cities? Maybe you can check out our list of the best electric skateboards for some locomotive assistance.

RANK CITYPopulation Estimate 7/1/192010 Census2000 Census1990 Census
1New York, New York8,336,8178,175,1338,008,2787,322,564
2Los Angeles, California3,979,5763,792,6213,694,8203,485,398
3Chicago, Illinois2,693,9762,695,5982,896,0162,783,726
4Houston, Texas2,320,2682,100,2631,953,6311,630,553
5Phoenix, Arizona1,680,9921,445,6321,321,045983,403
6Philadelphia, Pennsylvania1,584,0641,526,0061,517,5501,585,577
7San Antonio, Texas1,547,2531,327,4071,144,646935,933
8San Diego, California1,423,8511,307,4021,223,4001,110,549
9Dallas, Texas1,343,5731,197,8161,188,5801,006,877
10San Jose, California1,021,795945,942894,943782,248
11Austin, Texas978,908790,390656,562465,622
12Jacksonville, Florida911,507821,784735,617635,230
13Fort Worth, Texas909,585741,206534,694447,619
14Columbus, Ohio898,553787,033711,470632,910
15Charlotte, North Carolina885,708731,424540,828395,934
16San Francisco, California881,549805,235776,733723,959
17Indianapolis, Indiana876,384820,445781,870741,952
18Seattle, Washington753,675608,660563,374516,259
19Denver, Colorado727,211600,158554,636467,610
20Washington, DC705,749601,723572,059606,900
21Boston, Massachusetts692,600617,594589,141574,283
22El Paso, Texas681,728649,121563,662515,342
23Nashville-Davidson, Tennessee1670,820601,222545,524510,784
24Detroit, Michigan670,031713,777951,2701,027,974
25Oklahoma City, Oklahoma655,057579,999506,132444,719
26Portland, Oregon654,741583,776529,121437,319
27Las Vegas, Nevada651,319583,756478,434258,295
28Memphis, Tennessee651,073646,889650,100610,337
29Louisville-Jefferson County, Kentucky2617,638597,337256,231269,063
30Baltimore, Maryland593,490620,961651,154736,014
31Milwaukee, Wisconsin590,157594,833596,974628,088
32Albuquerque, N.M.560,513545,852448,607384,736
33Tucson, Arizona548,073520,116486,699405,390
34Fresno, California531,576494,665427,652354,202
35Mesa, Arizona518,012439,041396,375288,091
36Sacramento, California513,624466,488407,018369,365
37Atlanta, Georgia506,811420,003416,474394,017
38Kansas City, Missouri495,327459,787441,545435,146
39Colorado Springs, Colorado478,221416,427360,890281,140
40Omaha, Nebraska478,192408,958390,007335,795
41Raleigh, North Carolina474,069403,892276,093207,951
42Miami, Florida467,963399,457362,470358,548
43Long Beach, California462,628462,257461,522429,433
44Virginia Beach, Virginia449,974437,994425,257393,069
45Oakland, California433,031390,724399,484372,242
46Minneapolis, Minnesota429,606382,578382,618368,383
47Tulsa, Oklahoma401,190391,906393,049367,302
48Tampa, Florida399,700335,709303,447280,015
49Arlington, Texas398,854365,438332,969261,721
50New Orleans, Louisiana390,144343,829484,674495,080
1. Nashville-Davidson city is consolidated with Davidson County.
2. Louisville and Jefferson County merged in Jan. 2003. Figures prior to 2003 are for Louisville city only.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau. Web: www.census.gov . For 1900–2005 population estimates, see Population of the 20 Largest U.S. Cities, 1900–2010.

Biggest doesn't always mean best

Although in general America's biggest cities are major centers of global wealth and culture, that doesn't necessarily mean they're the best to live in for the average person. Major cities can experience a very high cost of living. If the cost of living outpaces wages in the city, then it can force people to move out to cheaper locations. America's three biggest tech markets-San Francisco, New York, and Boston-all have very high housing costs compared to cities in the Midwest. 

Or, depending on what your interests are, the best cities might be unrelated to their size or even affordability. Cultural attractions might play a big factor; Austin, Texas, for example, is often called America's live music capital. If you're someone who attends a lot of concerts, that may influence your judgement. Click here to see the list of America's most livable cities.

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