Second-largest Cities

Feb 18, 2009

Mark Dominus posted an article today about states’ second-largest cities and their relationship to the largest city. For cities he used Metropolitan Statistical Areas, though, which I felt made the results a little weird. In particular, many MSAs, especially those for large cities in the small eastern states, cross state lines, and it seemed weird to me to count those as belonging to a single state.

Because of that, I re-ran the analysis using the Census Bureau data for incorporated places instead. The table of results is below; I’ve left in the Census markers for what kind of entity is being considered. In particular, “balance” means that the named entity includes some smaller incorporated places inside it and those are being excluded from the population (ie, the population listed is the larger entity minus the smaller entities).

Under this definition, New York does in fact have the largest ratio between the largest and second-largest cities. Illinois, which previously occupied that spot, has dropped to second place; its previously-second-largest city of Peoria has been replaced with Aurora, which is near Chicago and thus was counted as part of it in the original analysis. Rhode Island, rather than having one city and thus no quotient, now has multiple cities and gets to have a quotient fairly close to the middle of 2.03. Hawaii, however, does not have any incorporated cities, and the only place included in the list is the City and County of Honolulu (as a Census-designated Place), so there is still an item with no quotient. As Mark did, I’ve placed it at the top and bottom of the list.

I haven’t really looked at much of the rest of the list, but it shuffled quite a bit. Pennsylvania, for instance, is now close to the top instead of being buried in the middle; it appears that about a quarter of Philidelphia’s MSA population is within Philly, whereas only 13% of Pittsburgh’s is in the city proper.

Here’s the full set of data:

State Largest city and
its Population
Second-largest city
and its population
Hawaii Honolulu (CDP) 375,571
New York New York (city) 8,274,527 Buffalo (city) 272,632 30.35
Illinois Chicago (city) 2,836,658 Aurora (city) 170,855 16.60
Maryland Baltimore (city) 637,455 Frederick (city) 59,220 10.76
Alaska Anchorage (municipality) 279,671 Fairbanks (city) 34,540 8.10
New Mexico Albuquerque (city) 518,271 Las Cruces (city) 89,722 5.78
Michigan Detroit (city) 916,952 Grand Rapids (city) 193,627 4.74
Pennsylvania Philadelphia (city) 1,449,634 Pittsburgh (city) 311,218 4.66
Oregon Portland (city) 550,396 Salem (city) 151,913 3.62
Massachusetts Boston (city) 599,351 Worcester (city) 173,966 3.45
Indiana Indianapolis (city, balance) 795,458 Fort Wayne (city) 251,247 3.17
California Los Angeles (city) 3,834,340 San Diego (city) 1,266,731 3.03
Washington Seattle (city) 594,210 Spokane (city) 200,975 2.96
Arizona Phoenix (city) 1,552,259 Tucson (city) 525,529 2.95
Georgia Atlanta (city) 519,145 Augusta-Richmond County (consolidated government, balance) 192,142 2.70
Mississippi Jackson (city) 175,710 Gulfport (city) 66,271 2.65
Wisconsin Milwaukee (city) 602,191 Madison (city) 228,775 2.63
Idaho Boise City (city) 202,832 Nampa (city) 79,249 2.56
South Dakota Sioux Falls (city) 151,505 Rapid City (city) 63,997 2.37
Nevada Las Vegas (city) 558,880 Henderson (city) 249,386 2.24
Arkansas Little Rock (city) 187,452 Fort Smith (city) 84,375 2.22
Vermont Burlington (city) 38,531 South Burlington (city) 17,445 2.21
Kansas Wichita (city) 361,420 Overland Park (city) 169,403 2.13
Delaware Wilmington (city) 72,868 Dover (city) 35,811 2.03
Rhode Island Providence (city) 172,459 Warwick (city) 85,097 2.03
Kentucky Louisville/Jefferson County (metro government, balance) 557,789 Lexington-Fayette (urban county) 279,044 1.00
Florida Jacksonville (city) 805,605 Miami (city) 409,719 1.97
Virginia Virginia Beach (city) 434,743 Norfolk (city) 235,747 1.84
North Carolina Charlotte (city) 671,588 Raleigh (city) 375,806 1.79
Maine Portland (city) 62,825 Lewiston (city) 35,234 1.78
Ohio Columbus (city) 747,755 Cleveland (city) 438,042 1.71
Nebraska Omaha (city) 424,482 Lincoln (city) 248,744 1.71
Texas Houston (city) 2,208,180 San Antonio (city) 1,328,984 1.66
Colorado Denver (city) 588,349 Colorado Springs (city) 376,427 1.56
Iowa Des Moines (city) 196,998 Cedar Rapids (city) 126,396 1.56
North Dakota Fargo (city) 92,660 Bismarck (city) 59,503 1.56
Montana Billings (city) 101,876 Missoula (city) 67,165 1.52
Utah Salt Lake City (city) 180,651 West Valley City (city) 122,374 1.48
Oklahoma Oklahoma City (city) 547,274 Tulsa (city) 384,037 1.43
Minnesota Minneapolis (city) 377,392 St. Paul (city) 277,251 1.36
Missouri Kansas City (city) 450,375 St. Louis (city) 350,759 1.28
New Hampshire Manchester (city) 108,874 Nashua (city) 86,837 1.25
New Jersey Newark (city) 280,135 Jersey City (city) 242,389 1.16
Tennessee Memphis (city) 674,028 Nashville-Davidson (metropolitan government, balance) 590,807 1.14
South Carolina Columbia (city) 124,818 Charleston (city) 110,015 1.13
Alabama Birmingham (city) 229,800 Montgomery (city) 204,086 1.13
Connecticut Bridgeport (city) 136,695 Hartford (city) 124,563 1.10
Louisiana New Orleans (city) 239,124 Baton Rouge (city) 227,071 1.05
Wyoming Cheyenne (city) 55,641 Casper (city) 53,003 1.05
West Virginia Charleston (city) 50,478 Huntington (city) 48,982 1.03
Hawaii Honolulu (CDP) 375,571 — </table>