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Biggest US Cities by Decade

Can you name the 10 most populous U.S. cities in each decennial census?
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: October 18, 2021
First submittedOctober 17, 2011
Times taken113,292
Average score53.1%
Rating4.92
5:00
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0
 / 32 guessed
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2020
8,804,190
New York City
3,898,747
Los Angeles
2,746,388
Chicago
2,304,580
Houston
1,608,139
Phoenix
1,603,797
Philadelphia
1,434,625
San Antonio
1,386,932
San Diego
1,304,379
Dallas
1,013,240
San Jose
 
 
1980
7,071,639
New York City
3,005,072
Chicago
2,966,850
Los Angeles
1,688,210
Philadelphia
1,595,138
Houston
1,203,339
Detroit
904,078
Dallas
875,538
San Diego
789,704
Phoenix
786,775
Baltimore
 
 
1940
7,454,995
New York City
3,396,808
Chicago
1,931,334
Philadelphia
1,623,452
Detroit
1,504,277
Los Angeles
878,336
Cleveland
859,100
Baltimore
816,048
St. Louis
770,816
Boston
671,659
Pittsburgh
 
 
1900
3,437,202
New York City
1,698,575
Chicago
1,293,697
Philadelphia
575,238
St. Louis
560,892
Boston
508,957
Baltimore
381,768
Cleveland
352,387
Buffalo
342,782
San Francisco
325,902
Cincinnati
 
 
1860
813,669
New York City
565,529
Philadelphia
266,661
Brooklyn
212,418
Baltimore
177,840
Boston
168,675
New Orleans
161,044
Cincinnati
160,773
St. Louis
112,172
Chicago
81,129
Buffalo
 
 
1820
123,706
New York City
63,802
Philadelphia
62,738
Baltimore
43,298
Boston
27,176
New Orleans
24,780
Charleston
19,678
Northern Liberties
14,713
Southwark
13,247
Washington, DC
12,731
Salem
2010
8,175,133
New York City
3,792,621
Los Angeles
2,695,598
Chicago
2,099,451
Houston
1,526,006
Philadelphia
1,445,632
Phoenix
1,327,407
San Antonio
1,307,402
San Diego
1,197,816
Dallas
945,942
San Jose
 
 
1970
7,894,862
New York City
3,366,957
Chicago
2,816,061
Los Angeles
1,948,609
Philadelphia
1,511,482
Detroit
1,232,802
Houston
905,759
Baltimore
844,401
Dallas
756,510
Washington, DC
750,903
Cleveland
 
 
1930
6,930,446
New York City
3,376,438
Chicago
1,950,961
Philadelphia
1,568,662
Detroit
1,238,048
Los Angeles
900,429
Cleveland
821,960
St. Louis
804,874
Baltimore
781,188
Boston
669,817
Pittsburgh
 
 
1890
1,515,301
New York City
1,099,850
Chicago
1,046,964
Philadelphia
806,343
Brooklyn
451,770
St. Louis
448,477
Boston
434,439
Baltimore
298,997
San Francisco
296,908
Cincinnati
261,353
Cleveland
 
 
1850
515,547
New York City
169,054
Baltimore
136,881
Boston
121,376
Philadelphia
116,375
New Orleans
115,435
Cincinnati
96,838
Brooklyn
77,860
St. Louis
58,894
Spring Garden
50,763
Albany
 
 
1810
96,373
New York City
53,722
Philadelphia
46,555
Baltimore
33,787
Boston
24,711
Charleston
19,874
Northern Liberties
17,242
New Orleans
13,707
Southwark
12,613
Salem
10,762
Albany
2000
8,008,278
New York City
3,694,820
Los Angeles
2,896,016
Chicago
1,953,631
Houston
1,517,550
Philadelphia
1,321,045
Phoenix
1,223,400
San Diego
1,188,580
Dallas
1,144,646
San Antonio
951,270
Detroit
 
 
1960
7,781,984
New York City
3,550,404
Chicago
2,479,015
Los Angeles
2,002,512
Philadelphia
1,670,144
Detroit
939,024
Baltimore
938,219
Houston
876,050
Cleveland
763,956
Washington, DC
750,026
St. Louis
 
 
1920
5,620,048
New York City
2,701,705
Chicago
1,823,779
Philadelphia
993,078
Detroit
796,841
Cleveland
772,897
St. Louis
748,060
Boston
733,826
Baltimore
588,343
Pittsburgh
576,673
Los Angeles
 
 
1880
1,206,299
New York City
847,170
Philadelphia
566,663
Brooklyn
503,185
Chicago
362,839
Boston
350,518
St. Louis
332,313
Baltimore
255,139
Cincinnati
233,959
San Francisco
216,090
New Orleans
 
 
1840
312,710
New York City
102,313
Baltimore
102,193
New Orleans
93,665
Philadelphia
93,383
Boston
46,338
Cincinnati
36,233
Brooklyn
34,474
Northern Liberties
33,721
Albany
29,261
Charleston
 
 
1800
60,515
New York City
41,220
Philadelphia
26,514
Baltimore
24,937
Boston
18,824
Charleston
10,718
Northern Liberties
9,621
Southwark
9,457
Salem
7,614
Providence
6,926
Norfolk
1990
7,322,564
New York City
3,485,398
Los Angeles
2,783,726
Chicago
1,630,553
Houston
1,585,577
Philadelphia
1,110,549
San Diego
1,027,974
Detroit
1,006,877
Dallas
983,403
Phoenix
935,933
San Antonio
 
 
1950
7,891,957
New York City
3,620,962
Chicago
2,071,605
Philadelphia
1,970,358
Los Angeles
1,849,568
Detroit
949,708
Baltimore
914,808
Cleveland
856,796
St. Louis
802,178
Washington, DC
801,444
Boston
 
 
1910
4,766,883
New York City
2,185,283
Chicago
1,549,008
Philadelphia
687,029
St. Louis
670,585
Boston
560,663
Cleveland
558,485
Baltimore
533,905
Pittsburgh
465,766
Detroit
423,715
Buffalo
 
 
1870
942,292
New York City
674,022
Philadelphia
396,099
Brooklyn
310,864
St. Louis
298,977
Chicago
267,354
Baltimore
250,526
Boston
216,239
Cincinnati
191,418
New Orleans
149,473
San Francisco
 
 
1830
202,589
New York City
80,620
Baltimore
80,462
Philadelphia
61,392
Boston
46,082
New Orleans
30,289
Charleston
28,872
Northern Liberties
24,831
Cincinnati
24,209
Albany
20,581
Southwark
 
 
1790
33,131
New York City
28,522
Philadelphia
18,320
Boston
16,359
Charleston
13,503
Baltimore
9,913
Northern Liberties
7,921
Salem
6,716
Newport
6,380
Providence
5,661
Marblehead
5,661
Southwark
+12
Level 33
Oct 17, 2011
Real good, Quizmaster!
+7
Level 84
Sep 21, 2013
agreed. One of the best quizzes on the site. I finally got 32/32, too.
+2
Level 63
Oct 17, 2011
why is New Orleans listed twice in 1840?
+3
Level ∞
Oct 17, 2011
Should have been Brooklyn. Fixed now. Thanks!
+1
Level 32
Aug 29, 2013
northern liberties should just be like that, instead of adding a PA
+27
Level 57
May 14, 2015
Brooklyn was its own city until it joined with NYC in 1898
+4
Level 53
Jul 28, 2015
I think it should say PA since most people no longer know where it is.
+1
Level 50
Jun 11, 2020
Its no5
+1
Level 59
Oct 17, 2011
great quiz
+1
Level 47
Oct 17, 2011
Nice quiz!!!
+12
Level 55
Oct 17, 2011
Spring Garden, Southwark, Marblehead and Northern Liberties I have never heard of therefore I did not get those ones. Brooklyn, interesting.
+1
Level 73
Oct 23, 2021
Gets a little tough starting in 1850.
+6
Level 76
Oct 18, 2011
@xolkan fyi - brooklyn, the bronx, queens and staten island did not join together with manhattan fully until almost 1900 (I think it's 1898, will have to check) up until that time they were separate entities with Manhattan and the southern part of what is now the bronx making up "new york city" and brooklyn it's second largest neighbor. it's why the poem "the new colossus" (give me your tired your poor) talks about twin cities spanning the harbor - its talking about new york city and brooklyn
+17
Level 59
Oct 22, 2011
It's funny that if you were standing in Northern Liberties today and didn't realize it that you would think you were still in downtown Philadelphia. Also you would be checking your billfold frequently.
+2
Level 88
Apr 26, 2013
Best comment ever.
+1
Level 49
Jun 15, 2022
this is perhaps even funnier now because Northern Liberties is so gentrified 10 years later that you likely wouldn't be concerned about your billfold at all -- it's arguably safer than true downtown!
+3
Level 23
Dec 8, 2011
Great quiz! I'm from Philly and forgot that Northern Liberties and Southwark became part of the city in 1854.
+1
Level 84
Jan 20, 2013
I guess that explains why Phillly jumps up to the #2 spot in 1860.
+1
Level 84
Jan 20, 2013
Same thing must have happened to Brooklyn getting absorbed by NYC sometime between 1890 and 1900.
+1
Level 54
Jan 8, 2012
wow times have changed
+2
Level 67
Aug 14, 2022
except for new york
+1
Level 22
Feb 16, 2012
24/32 that was hard
+2
Level 39
Apr 26, 2012
cincinnati!
+4
Level 49
Jan 31, 2015
it was a bustling city during the 1800s
+1
Level 28
Dec 28, 2012
51 out of 52, missed Newport RD. Still a good score! WOOT!
+3
Level 84
Jan 20, 2013
interesting quiz but the time limit is harsh considering how many different time periods you have to consider, though of course some carry over across many time periods. I remember when Northern Liberties was quite the happening place, an up-and-coming metropolis. Actually, where the hell is Northern Liberties? Does that even exist anymore? I was surprised Williamsburg didn't crack the top 10 in 1790 but I got 5/10 that year and 7/10 in 1800, including Norfolk. Also thought Richmond would have been top 10 around the middle of the 19th century, it was the capital of the confederacy after all, but I guess not. It's all northern cities in 1860, and then in 1870 you can see that the west is starting to open up as San Fran makes the list for the first time and St Louis jumps up 4 places. SF never makes the top 10 again after the 1906 earthquake that leveled the city, but Los Angeles comes zooming in during the roaring 20s.
+2
Level 82
Nov 13, 2015
Northern Liberties (PA) was long ago absorbed into Philadelphia.
+2
Level 58
Oct 21, 2020
I agree. 30-60 secs more of time would be better.
+1
Level 84
Jun 5, 2022
Reading up more about it, I'm even more skeptical that Williamsburg would not belong on the list in 1790. Since Jamestown was more-or-less abandoned by this point in time, it would have been the oldest permanent settlement in Virginia, and one of the oldest in the colonial United States, in 1790. It was home to the College of William & Mary and for over 100 years had been the capital of the state of Virginia - the most populous of the 13 colonies by far. The capital was relocated only 10 years earlier to Richmond which was less vulnerable to British attack by sea.

I can't find an exact population figure for 1790, but, according to Wikipedia the city had a population of about 5,000 as far back as 1634. Seems like it would be quite a bit higher than that over 150 years later, but the smallest city to show up in 1790 only had a population of 5,661.

Was a lower figure for Williamsburg given in the source?

+1
Level 63
Jun 19, 2013
did not know brooklyn used to be its own city. cool!
+1
Level 45
Mar 11, 2014
Good quiz, I got 24/32. I can't believe that I forgot Phoenix.
+1
Level 81
May 20, 2014
I should learn to spell Charleston. I kept trying Charlston. :(
+1
Level 75
Jul 18, 2014
Brooklyn? Isn't this contained in New York?
+3
Level 69
Aug 8, 2014
brooklyn and new york were separate until the late 1800's
+1
Level 77
Oct 19, 2016
I never considered that New York wouldn't include everything now part of it, same for Philly. Only ones I missed. Nice quiz.
+1
Level 27
Jul 26, 2014
need... more... air... 32/32... (death)
+1
Level 60
Aug 8, 2014
I totally missed Philly and Pittsburgh. I was mentally roaming the US map, and apparently erased Pennsylvania completely. My bad, PA.
+1
Level 40
Aug 8, 2014
Please add Washington DC without the comma
+2
Level 84
Aug 10, 2014
punctuation never matters
+2
Level 82
Nov 13, 2015
Despite the fact that punctuation doesn't matter on Jetpunk quizzes, why? The political subdivision is the District of Colombia, created in the early days of the US. Washington was the town built within the federal district to be the capital, and even though it's grown to encompass the whole (now modified) district, the naming convention has remained the same.
+1
Level 21
Apr 9, 2015
Excellent quiz! We need more like this!
+1
Level 64
Jun 21, 2015
It's funny to think of Brooklyn and New York City as separate. I'm guessing that originally only Manhattan was considered to be New York proper.
+1
Level 53
Jul 28, 2015
Very interesting quiz that gets you thinking. Some of those older ones, I've never even heard of before. So it's informative as well.
+1
Level 58
Feb 11, 2016
Good Quiz...Northern Liberties I've never heard of, but it sounds like something one says accusingly from the Confederacy.
+1
Level 74
Sep 11, 2016
Southwark?!? some of these are made up ;) just kidding -> Great Quiz!
+4
Level 87
Oct 19, 2016
Please do this for some other countries using the same format.
+1
Level 69
Mar 5, 2017
No data from 1780???
+4
Level 84
Nov 27, 2017
First census was conducted in 1790.
+3
Level 61
May 30, 2017
I typed in Salem because I play Town of Salem and was surprised to see it there, I guess it way pretty popular for witches to go to.
+3
Level 39
Nov 2, 2020
Abigail Williams has entered the chat
+2
Level 56
Aug 21, 2021
It was also a big city in the revolutionary war
+1
Level 61
May 31, 2017
I have actually missed Washington D.C.
+4
Level 71
Oct 7, 2017
Amazing that Detroit has dwindled so sharply since it's 1.8 million in 1950 to 650,000 of today..... very sad.
+1
Level 38
May 12, 2018
I was a real "Marblehead" at this quiz ;)
+1
Level 47
Oct 24, 2018
ah, man, misspelled san francisco.
+1
Level 53
Jan 29, 2019
Oops, forgot Detroit. and Northern Liberties.
+1
Level 76
Feb 21, 2019
One of my favourite quizzes!
+1
Level 58
Apr 2, 2019
Detroit keeps slipping away...
+3
Level 77
May 17, 2019
Missed St Louis (doh) but still managed to get 5 points
+5
Level 46
Aug 28, 2019
Grenat quizz! You should do one with all North America! Considering Québec City, Montréal, ans other big cities back un old times it would be interesting.
+1
Level 68
Sep 28, 2019
Where is Spring Garden?
+1
Level 87
Oct 10, 2019
You'll find it in Mountain View, California.
+2
Level 58
Oct 27, 2021
It’s inside Philadelphia now.
+1
Level 76
Mar 23, 2020
Ohhhh yeah. remember the days when charleston was the 5th most populous city?
+1
Level 20
Apr 11, 2020
Did terribly - only got 19/32, but I think I have an excuse: I'm an eleven-year-old from Britain.
+1
Level 89
May 27, 2020
I wonder if anyone can enlighten me on what happened to Boston post-1950 to make it go down not just in ranking but in overall population (by more than 50,000)? Did some of the outer suburbs split off into their own population centers or something?
+4
Level 84
Aug 1, 2020
I don't know but if I had to guess I'd imagine it was the same thing that happened to most American cities in the 50s and 60s which was a massive shift of population out of urban centers to the suburbs.
+1
Level 58
Jan 12, 2021
Like Kal said, a huge shift to the suburbs, as well as a pretty stagnant economy as it managed a shift from an old manufacturing city to a center of finance, education, and medical.
+1
Level 73
Aug 16, 2020
Nice quiz - one very small thing is that on my screen (PC) the years go down in columns, (i.e. 2010 is above 2000). I don't know about others, but this seems counter-intuitive, as I'd expect the decades furthest back to be at the bottom. Could this be changed (if anyone else feels the same)?
+1
Level 59
Jun 5, 2021
I was considering guessing boroughs of NYC if they were ever independent but I didn't, could've gotten Brooklyn
+1
Level 47
Aug 11, 2021
Manila? I couldn't find any information between 1901 and 1946 but I expect Manila to be somewhere on there
+2
Level 56
Aug 21, 2021
I doubt this includes territories.
+1
Level 84
Sep 11, 2021
From what I could dig up the population of Manila, under American control, rose rapidly from 1900-1939. In 1900 it was over 200k and 40 years later it was over 600k. I don't think it would have ever made the top 10, actually, though it would have come pretty darn close every year. However, Miecraft is probably also correct.
+1
Level 63
Oct 15, 2021
Quizmaster, do you possibly want to update this for 2020?
+1
Level ∞
Oct 15, 2021
Yes, I'll do it soon.
+1
Level 54
Oct 23, 2021
Oh, Chicago, how you dodge my mind.
+2
Level 67
Oct 23, 2021
As a Canadian, rather surprised none of Atlanta, Savannah, Raleigh nor Richmond were ever in top ten especially in earlier times.
+1
Level 58
Oct 23, 2021
Please accept 'Cincy' as a type-in for Cincinnati. Most other JetPunk quizzes do this.
+1
Level ∞
Oct 24, 2021
Cincy will work now.
+2
Level 55
Oct 23, 2021
Crazy to see how much population has grown. Really liked this quiz, even though I blacked on some of them.
+1
Level 44
Oct 24, 2021
Wow, look at how all these major cities are growing and then watch Detroit stagnate and decline for decades
+1
Level 45
Nov 26, 2021
It’s very rare that I’m ever able to get above average on geography and city quizzes, since this website is filled with geography geniuses. Thankfully, since most people on this website don’t appear to be American, I was finally able to get above-average on a quiz!!! :)
+1
Level 84
Mar 5, 2022
Over a quarter of the site's users are American - which represents a plurality. But the most vocal whiners are non-Americans and make their presence felt whenever they can.
+1
Level 15
Nov 6, 2022
New York, Philly, Chicago,Boston, Detroit, Baltimore, LA, St Louis, Cleveland, Brooklyn?

Detroit was the richest, best growing city in the 40s and 50s. A huge city that ranked for 100 years as the 4, or 5th, 6th, 8th, largest city in usa. Primarily the 5th largest after NY LA CHI Phill...An Iconic city, such a big part of what this country use to be all about....Keep your eyes peeled...maybe a rebirth.