25 Largest Cities in US, 1911 and 2011

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, July 7, 1911: Nothing much at all to write about.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Four days ago, I posted the high temperature in 25 cities for July 3, 1911. At that time I wondered which cities were the largest cities in the US in 1911. Since Grandma didn’t have much to say a hundred years ago today, I’ll tell you what I found.

The 25 largest cities in 1911 were:largest cities, 1911

And, then I wondered which cities are the largest now—and what their rank had been in 1911:

largest cities, 2011

One thing that really surprised me about these lists is that the rank of Detroit was about the same in both 1911 and 2011 (9th in 1911 and 11th in 2011), so I looked at the rank in some of the intervening years. Detroit apparently grew rapidly as the auto industry took off—and it was the 4th largest city in the US by 1920.

For those who care about the details: I used US Census Bureau data for the ranks. The 1911 numbers are based on the 1910 census; the 2011 ranks are based on 2009 estimates. There may be some minor changes in the rank when detailed data become available from the 2010 census.

8 thoughts on “25 Largest Cities in US, 1911 and 2011

    1. Thanks for the good catch. I double checked all of the numbers in the tables and fixed it. For 2011, Cleveland was 43 and Cincinnati really was 57.

      If you’d like to dig deeper into the data for the cities, here are the links:

      1911 (I used 1910 data and assumed the ranks didn’t change between 1910 and 1911.)


      US Census Bureau document with links to data from 1790 to 1990


      2011 (I used 2009 estimates because that was the most recent year available at the time I wrote this post.)


      An aside–There is now more recent data available on the US Census website.

        1. And, than you for letting me know about the problem. It took someone with more local knowledge of Ohio than me to catch it. I try to very accurate, but occasionally mistakes slip through.

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