1800-2000: Largest U.S. Cities, The Westward Migration

Summary: The 10 largest cities in the United States from 1800 to 2000, showing the westward migration of the country that contributed to the disbursement of families.

The following table shows where the population was moving as the country expanded and families became disbursed. In 1800, the largest cities were all in the original 13 colonies. By 1850, some of the "gateway" cities to the west, like Cincinnati, St. Louis, and New Orleans, overtook the eastern cities. By 1900, many people had moved to the Midwest and early settlement of the West centered in San Francisco. By the mid- to late-1900's, many of the largest cities were in the West and the South.

Top 10 Most Populous Cities in the U.S.
1800-2000

13 COLONIES
City 1800 1850 1900 1950 2000
New York, NY 60,515 515,547 3,437,202 7,891,957 8,008,278
Brooklyn, NY* - 115,435 - - -
Philadelphia, PA 41,220 121,376 1,293,697 2,071,605 1,517,550
Northern Liberties, PA** 10,718 - - - -
Southwark, PA** 9,621 - - - -
Spring Garden, PA** - 58,894 - - -
Boston, MA 24,937 136,881 560,892 801,444 -
Charleston, SC 18,824 - - - -
Baltimore, MD 26,514 169,054 508,957 949,708 -
Washington, DC - - - 802,178 -
Providence, RI 7,614 - - - -
Salem, MA 9,457 - - - -
Norfolk, VA 6,926 - - - -
Albany, NY - 50,763 - - -
Buffalo, NY - - 352,387 - -
MIDWEST
1800 1850 1900 1950 2000
Cincinnati, OH - 115,435 325,902 - -
St. Louis, MO - 77,860 575,238 856,796 -
Chicago, IL - - 1,698,575 3,620,962 2,896,016
Cleveland, OH - - 381,768 914,808 -
Detroit, MI - - - 1,849,568 951,270
WEST
1800 1850 1900 1950 2000
San Francisco, CA - - 342,782 - -
Los Angeles, CA - - - 1,970,358 3,694,820
San Diego, CA - - - - 1,223,400
Phoenix, AZ - - - - 1,321,045
SOUTH
1800 1850 1900 1950 2000
New Orleans, LA - 116,375 - - -
Houston, TX - - - - 1,953,631
Dallas, TX - - - - 1,188,580
San Antonio, TX - - - - 1,144,646

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

* Annexed to New York in 1898
** Annexed to Philadelphia in 1854

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