Most Populous cities in the U.S. – 1790/2020

What are the cities with the most people in the United States? How have they changed from 1790 to the present? In today’s article we will delve into the demographics of the United States. First, we’re going to learn about which cities have the most population from 1790 to today. Next we will go over which states have the most inhabitants. To make this article and the videos I used sources from the Census. Every 10 years, since 1790, a census has been taken that, even with some limitations, allows us to have memory and knowledge of the population data of the last 230 years. Most Populous cities in the U.S. – 1790/2020.

The Largest U.S. Cities by Population from 1790 to 2020

What were and are the cities with the most residents in the United States? Let’s start with an initial figure. The top 20 nations by population in 1790. First, it must be said that the population of the United States in 1790 was about 3 million 900 thousand inhabitants. Nothing to do, of course, with the current more than 331 million inhabitants. But this figure was influenced not only by the fact that in general, in the world, the inhabitants were fewer. But also by the fact that the United States had, in 1790 had only 16 states. The city with the most inhabitants in 1790 was New York, in the state of New York, with about 33 thousand inhabitants. In second place was Philadelphia with 28,522 and in third place was Boston with 18,320. A completely different figure from today. In fact they are in the Bronx, a district of New York, today there are about 1.4 million inhabitants.

In 2020, in fact, the situation is decidedly different. The first city remains New York, but the population of this area is 8 million 622 thousand inhabitants. This is followed by Los Angeles, in California, with over 4 million inhabitants and in third place Chicago with 2,670,406. To understand how the situation has changed in the 230 years examined, the city that is in 20th place in 2020, Washington has 724,342 inhabitants. More than three times the sum of the top 20 cities in 1790.

To find out about the top 50 cities in the United States, I made this table from Wikipedia. The table shows the top 50 cities by population, 2020 data, and 2010 data. It also shows the change from 2010 to 2020 in percentage and the population density. Among the top 50 cities in the U.S. by population, the one that grew the most from 2010 to 2020 is Seattle, in the state of Washington. It grew from 608,000 inhabitants to 769,000. It was followed by Austin and Fort Worth in Texas, which grew by 25.16% and 25.95% respectively.

Among the top 50 cities in the U.S. by population, 45 increased their population from 2010 to 2020. Only five had a negative change. Of these, the one with the largest decrease is Detroit, with a variation of -6.78%. Detroit went from 713,777 inhabitants in 2010 to 665,369 in 2020. Baltimore followed with -5.61%. Among the cities with a negative variation are also Long Beach, Milwaukee and Chicago.

The first U.S. Census in 1790

The first census covering the United States was taken in 1790. Although some data – from the period 1790/1830 – have been lost, this is still a very useful tool. In fact, thanks to this collection of data, it was finally possible to calculate the number of inhabitants of the United States. Below – you can find here the deepening on Wikipedia – you can see some interesting data.

State or territoryEnslavedΒ % of state populationTotal% of U.S. population
Vermont0.0%85.5392.2%
New Hampshire0.1%141.8853.6%
Maine0.0%96.542.5%
Massachusetts0.0%378.7879.7%
Rhode Island1.4%68.8251.5%
Connecticut1.2%237.9466.1%
New York6.3%340.128.7%
New Jersey6.2%184.1394.7%
Pennsylvania0.9%434.37311.2%
Delaware15.0%59.0941.5%
Maryland32.2%319.7288.2%
Virginia39.1%747.6119.2%
Kentucky16.9%73.6771.9%
North Carolina25.5%393.75110.1%
South Carolina43.0%249.0736.4%
Georgia35.5%82.5482.1%
Total17.8%3,893,6351

First, it is striking how among the data is the % of the population enslaved. In South Carolina and Virginia were present the highest data with 43.0% of the population for South Carolina and 39.1% for Virginia. In general the state with the highest population in 1790 was the state of Virginia with almost 750,000 inhabitants followed by North Carolina with about 393 million inhabitants.

The number of inhabitants in the U.S. states from 1800 to the present day

If in the Youtube video above you can see the trend of the city, below I want to show some data about the states. As mentioned in 1800 the first state by number of inhabitants was not New York but Virginia. In fact for some years this state was the first in the United States with over 800 thousand bitters on a total that has varied from 5 to 6 million. In the first decade of 1800, New York has in fact surpassed Virginia in first place. First place that was held until the 1960s. In fact, it was only during this period that California became the first state. In 2020 California is the first State for inhabitants of the United States with a population that has reached almost 40 million. In second place we find Texas with 29.5 million inhabitants and in third place Florida with almost 22 million. New York is “only” in fourth place with about 19.5 million inhabitants. The growth of this state since the 60s has not been very strong.

Thanks to the data made in the table above, it is also possible to see the evolution of the population of the United States over the last 200 years. If in 1800 the inhabitants were 5 million and 300 thousand approximately, in 1900 these had become approximately 75 million. A growth of +1500% in a period of time all things considered not so wide. The population of the United States has continued to grow, arriving at the new millennium with about 282 million inhabitants throughout the United States. Currently the figure for residents is about 330 million. In just 20 years the population has grown by another 48 million reaching its peak.

Sources and useful links

I used data in the Census database to make this video.

If you want to see the full video: The Top 20 Largest U.S. Cities by Population 1790 – 2020: https://youtu.be/jUyRKjtuZBU

To read another interesting article: USA – Poverty rate by State – 1980/2019: https://statisticsanddata.org/data/usa-poverty-rate-by-state-1980-2019/

To read: Population of each US State – (1790/2020): https://statisticsanddata.org/data/population-of-each-us-state-1790-2020/

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