State Capitals and Largest Cities (& Some Common Questions)
What Is the Capital and Largest City in Each State?
Have you ever paused and wondered, “What is the state capital of our state?” It can be difficult to keep all the many US cities straight, particularly if you are an immigrant or move around often. And especially when the largest city and capital city might not be the same!
To help with that, we’ve compiled a list of all the state capitals and largest cities in the United States. This includes all the states and capitals in order, some fun facts about each capital, as well as some common questions that people have, so keep reading for geographical goodness!
What Was the First Capital of the United States of America?
While the nation’s capital might be Washington D.C. now, you might be wondering— which city was the first capital of the United States? The answer is, New York City!
After the Constitution was ratified by 13 states, George Washington stood on the balcony of City Hall in 1789 and was sworn in as the first President of the nation. But then, he had to select a new and permanent place for the government to reside in. In 1791, President Washington moved the capital of the US to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and from there, it was later transitioned to Washington, D.C., in June of 1800.
Having one location to govern from can facilitate the processes of providing government functions and rules. As such, state capitals are often centrally located in a state. But, as you can see below, the largest city is sometimes the capital city, but not always.
Looking to navigate some major cities? Check out Infoplease’s Map of US and State Capitals to visualize capital places and where they lie within the US States.
State Capital: Montgomery Largest City: Birmingham
Montgomery is the site of many landmark civil rights events, like the Montgomery bus boycotts throughout 1955 and 1956 and the Selma-to-Montgomery March for voting rights in 1965.
The nation’s oldest baseball field, Rickwood Field, which opened in 1910, is located in Birmingham.
State Capital: Juneau Largest City: Anchorage
If you're thinking of going on a road trip directly to Juneau, note you can't drive into the city. You can only fly or ferry in.
Forty-one percent of the state's population lives in Anchorage.
State Capital: Phoenix Largest City: Phoenix
Phoenix is the most populous state capital with approximately 1.5 million people living there. According to the National Climatic Data Center, the sun shines on Phoenix for 85 percent of its daylight hours.
State Capital: Little Rock Largest City: Little Rock
Little Rock became the capital of the territory of Arkansas in 1821. The name “little rock” comes from the French explorer Bernard de la Harpe. In 1722, he saw rock formations jutting out from the Ouachita Mountains and named one group the big rock and the other the little rock.
State Capital: Sacramento Largest City: Los Angeles
Sacramento is California's sixth capital since 1854.
You can visit the memorial of Senator Capitol Kitty, a stray cat that lived at the state capital for 13 years.
Los Angeles has more than 3.9 million residents.
State Capital: Denver Largest City: Denver
Denver became the territorial capital in 1867. Denver is 155 square miles and has a population of 663,862. Denver is exactly one mile above sea level, giving it the nickname, the Mile High City.
State Capital: Hartford Largest City: Bridgeport
Hartford became the sole capital of Connecticut in 1875. Originally, both New Haven and Hartford were capital cities, starting in 1701.
Bridgeport Harbor is one of three deep-water ports in the state. Bridgeport has just over 145,000 residents.
State Capital: Dover Largest City: Wilmington
In Dover, the old statehouse on the green (built in part in 1722 as the county courthouse) has been the capitol building since 1777.
Wilmington is located halfway between New York City and Washington, D.C. and has just over 71,000 residents.
State Capital: Tallahassee Largest City: Jacksonville
Tallahassee became the capital of Florida in 1823. The founder of Famous Amos Cookies, Wally Amos, was born and raised in Tallahassee.
Jacksonville is the largest city by area in the continental United States with over 840 square miles.
State Capital: Atlanta Largest City: Atlanta
In 1877, Atlanta became the capital of Georgia, succeeding Milledgeville, which was the state’s fourth capital. Approximately 17 Fortune 500 companies (including Coca-Cola) call Atlanta home.
State Capital: Honolulu Largest City: Honolulu
Honolulu has the only royal palace in the U.S. The Iolani Palace was the official residence for the Hawaiian monarchs who lived on the estate before Queen Lili'uokalani was overthrown in 1891. According to the 2010 Census, Honolulu has more than 337,000 residents.
State Capital: Boise Largest City: Boise
Boise became the capital of the territory of Idaho in 1864. Approximately 228,900 people live there. In Boise, it's a law that "Residents may not fish from a giraffe’s back."
State Capital: Springfield Largest City: Chicago
President Abraham Lincoln spent much of his life in Springfield and you can visit his house there.
Chicago was a small town when Springfield became the state capital in 1834 and now it boasts 2.7 million residents.
State Capital: Indianapolis Largest City: Indianapolis
Indianapolis became the state capital in 1825. Currently, it has more than 864,000 residents. Did you know that in Indiana, it's illegal to collect rags on Sundays? It's also illegal to ride over 10 miles per hour on your horse.
State Capital: Des Moines Largest City: Des Moines
Des Moines became the capital in 1857 -- the previous capital was Iowa City. Des Moines suffered several floods in the 1950s, and despite flood control measures constructed on the Des Moines River, was again inundated in 1993.
State Capital: Topeka Largest City: Wichita
Topeka has served as Kansas’s capital since it became a state in 1861. The Topeka Train Robbers is the city's official baseball team. The mascot's name is MacBurgular.
Wichita has almost 390,000 residents.
State Capital: Frankfort Largest City: Louisville
In 1792, the year Kentucky became the 15th state, Frankfort became its capital. Frankfort native, George Graham Vest, is best known for coining the phrase "dog is a man's best friend."
The Louisville Metro population is 1.2 million.
State Capital: Baton Rouge Largest City: New Orleans
The capital of Louisiana moved around quite a bit. New Orleans had the title twice before the title settled on Baton Rouge in 1879.
New Orleans has a population of more than 384,000 residents.
State Capital: Augusta Largest City: Portland
Augusta was named the state capital in 1827. Woodrow Wilson grew up in Augusta and you can still visit his boyhood home today.
Portland’s population is just under 67,000 residents.
State Capital: Annapolis Largest City: Baltimore
From November 26, 1783, to August 13, 1784, Annapolis was the location of the nation’s capital. The statehouse where George Washington resigned as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in 1783 (and where the treaty that ended the Revolutionary War was ratified in 1784) still stands in Annapolis.
Baltimore has a population of nearly 622,000 residents.
State Capital: Boston Largest City: Boston
There was once a flood of molasses in Boston that killed 21 people. Some claim that parts of Boston's North End still smell like molasses on a hot day.
State Capital: Lansing Largest City: Detroit
Lansing is the only state capital that is not the county seat.
Detroit had a population of just over 1 million residents in 1990 and now has just over 680,000 residents.
State Capital: St. Paul Largest City: Minneapolis
In 1849, St. Paul was named the capital of the Minnesota territory.
Minneapolis is one of the top 50 largest cities in the country, with 407,207 residents. The capitol building, completed in 1904 and designed by Cass Gilbert, was also modeled after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
State Capital: Jackson Largest City: Jackson
Jackson was named after President Andrew Jackson and was chosen as the capital in 1821. Jackson has a population of approximately 169,000 residents. The first Republican party convention was held in Jackson on July 6, 1854.
State Capital: Jefferson City Largest City: Kansas City
Jefferson City was specifically designed to be the state capital, and sits along the edge of both the Ozarks and Missouri River.
State Capital: Helena Largest City: Billings
Helena was founded after the discovery of gold (1864) in Last Chance Gulch (now Helena's main street) and grew rapidly. As the area's stores of gold and silver were depleted, other minerals, including copper, lead and zinc were discovered and exploited.
Billings boasts a population of more than 110,300 residents.
State Capital: Lincoln Largest City: Omaha
In 1867, the village of Lancaster (renamed Lincoln) became the state capital. Lincoln is the home of the National Museum of Roller Skating.
State Capital: Carson City Largest City: Las Vegas
Carson City became the capital of the Nevada Territory in 1861 and stayed its capital when it became a state.
Las Vegas has approximately 613,600 residents and the popular tourist destination is often thought to be the state capital.
29. New Hampshire
State Capital: Concord Largest City: Manchester
Concord has been the capital city of New Hampshire since 1808. Levi Hutchins of Concord invented the first alarm clock in 1787.
Manchester has approximately 110,506 residents.
30. New Jersey
State Capital: Trenton Largest City: Newark
Trenton became New Jersey's capital in November 1790. Trenton's pottery industry dates back to colonial times.
Newark has approximately 281,764 residents and celebrated its 350th birthday in 2016.
31. New Mexico
State Capital: Santa Fe Largest City: Albuquerque
Santa Fe became the capital of the Territory of New Mexico in 1851 and remained its capital when it achieved statehood in 1912.
Albuquerque has approximately 559,277 residents.
32. New York
State Capital: Albany Largest City: New York City
Kingston was the first capital in New York, until the British burned it down in 1777. The title then passed over the Albany 20 years later in 1797.
New York City, nicknamed “The Big Apple,” is home to more than 8.5 million residents and is the largest city in the United States.
33. North Carolina
State Capital: Raleigh Largest City: Charlotte
Like Jefferson City, Raleigh (designated the capital in 1792) was also planned and built to be the capital city.
Charlotte has approximately 842,051 residents.
34. North Dakota
State Capital: Bismarck Largest City: Fargo
Bismarck became the capital of the Dakota Territory in 1883 and stayed its capital when it became a state in 1889.
Fargo has approximately 120,762 residents.
State Capital: Columbus Largest City: Columbus
Columbus was laid out as the state capital in 1812 but did not take over the government from Chillicothe until 1816.
State Capital: Oklahoma City Largest City: Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City became the capital in 1910. Today, the city has a population of approximately 638,367 residents.
Oklahoma City was the first city to install parking meters.
State Capital: Salem Largest City: Portland
Salem was chosen as the capital of the territory of Oregon in 1851 and later designated the state capital in 1855. Salem's Waldo Park is only 12 by 20 feet and is one of the smallest parks in nation.
State Capital: Harrisburg Largest City: Philadelphia
Harrisburg was named the capital of Pennsylvania in 1812. The state capital building in Harrisburg is modeled after St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City.
In 2014, Philadelphia was the fifth largest city in the U.S., with more than 1.5 million residents.
39. Rhode Island
State Capital: Providence Largest City: Providence
Providence was founded in 1636, which makes it one of the oldest cities in the United States. Rhode Island originally had five capital cities, and then, eventually two--Newport and Providence. Providence became the sole capital of the state in 1900.
In Providence it is illegal to wear transparent clothing. It is also illegal to sell toothpaste and a toothbrush to the same person on a Sunday.
40. South Carolina
State Capital: Columbia Largest City: Columbia
Columbia became the capital in 1786. The World's Largest Fire Hydrant resides in Columbia.
41. South Dakota
State Capital: Pierre Largest City: Sioux Falls
Pierre became the permanent capital of South Dakota in 1890. Sioux Falls has just over 174,360 residents.
State Capital: Nashville Largest City: Memphis
Nashville -- nicknamed the City of Music -- was the capital of Tennessee twice. The city was first the capital from 1812 to 1817 and then in 1826, Nashville became the permanent capital of the state.
Currently, Memphis has nearly 653,000 residents.
State Capital: Austin Largest City: Houston
In 1839, Austin (once named Waterloo) became the capital of Texas. In 1842, the capital moved to Houston and then in 1844, Austin again became the capital.
Houston has 2.3 million residents.
State Capital: Salt Lake City Largest City: Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City was capital of the territory of Utah in 1856, and in 1896, it became the capital of the new state. Salt Lake City has 193,744 residents. The largest genealogical library in the world is in Salt Lake City. The Family History Library is open to the public and free of charge.
State Capital: Montpelier Largest City: Burlington
Montpelier became the state capital in 1805. It has the smallest population (7,535) of all the state capitals.
Burlington has just over 42,000 residents and is located on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain.
State Capital: Richmond Largest City: Virginia Beach
Richmond replaced Williamsburg as the state capital in 1779. In Richmond it is illegal to flip a coin in a restaurant to see who will pay for coffee. Virginia Beach has 452,602 residents.
State Capital: Olympia Largest City: Seattle
Olympia was the state capital before it was even a town. Olympia was named the provisional capital in 1853 and confirmed as the official capital in 1855. Olympia wasn't incorporated as a town until 1859.
Seattle has 704,352 residents and is known for being the headquarters of Starbucks, Microsoft and Amazon.
48. West Virginia
State Capital: Charleston Largest City: Charleston
Charleston became the state’s capital in 1877. The first capital building stood for 36 years before a fire destroyed it in 1921. There was also ammunition stored on the top floor of the building. The fire set off the ammunition, causing a panic from the the onlookers. During the event, two men were arrested for stealing a fire truck.
State Capital: Madison Largest City: Milwaukee
Madison became the capital of the state in 1838. The official bird of Madison is the plastic pink flamingo.
State Capital: Cheyenne Largest City: Cheyenne
In 1890, Wyoming was admitted to the union and Cheyenne became its capital. Every year since 1897, Cheyenne has hosted the Frontier Days Festival to celebrate the city's roots in the Old West. Cheyenne has just over 64,000 residents.
Other Capital Questions
What is the Largest City in All 50 States?
New York City is by far the largest city in terms of population, which now sits at 8,622,357 people. NYC is also the largest city in all 50 states by population density. However, Alaska has the largest city by area— Sitka, Alaska is 2,870.3 miles squared, and Anchorage, Alaska is 1,706.8 miles squared.
What is the Capital City of All 50 States?
The capital of the United States is Washington, D.C., with a population of 707,109 people. The capital was moved there in 1800 after the so-called “Federal City” was completed by French architect and engineer Pierre Charles L’Enfant.
What is the Smallest State Capital?
In Vermont, you will find the city of Montpelier which is the smallest state capital in the US. In terms of population, Montpelier, VT, only contains just over 8,100 people, making it pale in comparison to other capital cities.
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2010, 2014, 2016, 2020, and 2022 population figures and estimates.
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