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Biggest World Cities in 1850

Can you name the 20 most populous cities in the year 1850?
This data probably uses a simple estimate of urban area population.
Quiz by cosmokim
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Last updated: December 15, 2019
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First submittedJuly 20, 2016
Times taken48,650
Average score55.0%
Rating4.48
3:00
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Population
City
2.3 mil
London
1.6 mil
Peking
1.3 mil
Paris
800 k
Canton
800 k
Constantinople
700 k
Hangchow
700 k
New York City
600 k
Bombay
600 k
Edo
500 k
Soochow
Population
City
500 k
Saint Petersburg
500 k
Berlin
400 k
Philadelphia
400 k
Vienna
400 k
Liverpool
400 k
Naples
400 k
Calcutta
400 k
Manchester
400 k
Moscow
300 k
Glasgow
58 Comments
+6
Level 93
Jul 21, 2016
Why is Beijing not shown as Peking, since the other cities whose name in English has changed, such as Bombay, Calcutta, Constantinople, show the old name?
+7
Level 66
Jul 21, 2016
I'll change that.
+1
Level ∞
Jul 21, 2016
Thanks. That was my mistake.
+2
Level 82
Aug 3, 2016
I wonder if this makes sense. Peking hasn't changed its name to Beijing, we've just now got a better transliteration of the name into English. It was as much Beijing in 1850 as it is now. I agree with using Ezo instead of Tokyo, because that is a case where the name has actually changed since then.
+5
Level 92
Sep 20, 2016
200 years ago, China's position on the world stage was more heavily influenced by the Cantonese ports (Guangzhou and Hong Kong), and so the name of the city was transliterated from the Cantonese instead of the Mandarin. I think it's the answer that should be displayed, as it was the standard spelling at the time.
+3
Level 76
Mar 11, 2020
My vote is for Beijing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Suzhou.
+4
Level 79
Mar 11, 2020
My vote is for Peking, Canton, Hangchow and Soochow (as I prefer these names, their spellings and the way they sound in English, and also because this was how they were written then).
+1
Level 66
Mar 28, 2024
I don't but that is how they were written so it should be that
+6
Level 34
Mar 17, 2020
I don't see how it's relevant that 200 years ago English speakers wrote the names of cities wrong. It's not what people in those cities ever called it and not what informed people know them as today. I think the older romanizations should be accepted as correct, but it's ahistorical to pretend that just because white people were wrong about their names 200 years ago that their names have changed. Canton is a corruption of Guangdong, the name of the province, pronounced the same in Cantonese as in Mandarin. The city had always (since long before Europeans went there) been called Guangzhou, with a very similar pronunciation in Cantonese.

As a side note, I think this is a typo in Plattitude's comment, but Tokyo was never known as Ezo. That was the name for Ainu country in northern Honshu and Hokkaido before and during Japanese colonization. Tokyo was called Edo, and before that Yedo. Yedo was the more common spelling in English since it was still pronounced this way in the 17th century.

+2
Level 79
Aug 6, 2020
Chinese place names were converted into English and other European languages by romanisation for centuries until the 1980s, so Běi Jīng was translated by the Roman alphabet into Peking, kʷɔ̌ːŋ.tsɐ̂u̯ (Cantonese pronunciation) was translated to Kwangchow (or anglicised to Canton). I wouldn't exactly say these transliterations were wrong. Many European city names are also translated vastly differently many different European languages, e.g Vienna/Wien/Vienne/Wenen/Viena/Wiedeń; Paris/Parijs/Parigi/Pariisi.
+1
Level 69
Jul 24, 2022
Can you accept Petrograd for Saint Petersburg?
+1
Level 78
Jul 24, 2022
So… will we ever call the language Guangdongese?
+1
Level 92
Nov 6, 2023
In Cantonese, it is pronounced Guang Dong Wah, the Wah character meaning 'words' and being used in a manner very similar to the English 'ese.'
+1
Level 60
Jul 21, 2016
I guess it was good enough to be featured
+1
Level 66
Jul 21, 2016
Thanks
+2
Level 74
Jul 21, 2016
Please accept Edo for Tokyo
+3
Level ∞
Jul 22, 2016
Changed Tokyo to Edo
+1
Level 90
Jul 21, 2016
Have Hangchow and Soochow graduated into modern Chinese cities with different names or have they just fallen by the wayside?
+5
Level 66
Jul 21, 2016
They have: Hangzhou and Suzhou I believe.
+3
Level 76
Sep 24, 2016
All Chinese cities "updated" there names when pinyin was adopted as the official method of romanisation for mainland China, so even tiny villages have different names now when written in English.
+5
Level 44
Jul 29, 2016
Crazy to think that my "small market" town (Dayton) would be ranked fourth on this list.
+2
Level 66
Aug 4, 2016
*Canton
+10
Level 93
Nov 11, 2019
No he actually means Dayton as in today it has around the same in the greater city area as number 4 in the list.
+1
Level 40
Jun 26, 2022
Woah!
+1
Level 74
Aug 28, 2016
Love these quizzes. Even though I don't do that well, the answers are so interesting.

Thanks.

+2
Level 76
Sep 24, 2016
Incredible how much bigger cities have gotten in the past 150 years. A city of 1 million people nowadays is nothing.
+4
Level 67
Sep 24, 2016
Some time in the last twenty years we passed the threshold in which more than half of the world population lives in cities. In 1850, by contrast, only England (but not the U.K.) and some other European countries were that urbanized; we did not cross that line in the U.S. until about 100 years ago.
+1
Level 34
Oct 2, 2019
Advances in transportation in the past 150 years have really made the sheer physical size of a potential urban area explode.
+1
Level 82
Sep 24, 2016
Got everything except Glasgow. Having taken my biggest cities in 1950/1900/1800/1500/1000/100 quiz multiple times helped a lot. Mostly the same answers.
+1
Level 25
Sep 24, 2016
Manchester didn't exist until 1853.
+6
Level 71
Sep 24, 2016
My apologies if I'm missing a joke but 1853 was when it acquired city status. There has been human settlement in the same area since pre-Roman times.
+1
Level 67
Sep 24, 2016
No offense, but if we're doing historical names from 1850, then shouldn't Constantinople be Istanbul? Unless people were still referring to it as Constantinople at the time, in spite of the Turkish renaming of the city about 400 years earlier
+3
Level 48
Sep 24, 2016
"Konstantiniyye," the Turkish transliteration of Constantinople was used by the Ottomans until their decimation in WW1. Ataturk later standardized Latin Turkish names for all their cities.
+2
Level 52
Sep 24, 2016
Could u make kolkatta exeptable for calcutta as that is how it is spelt now?
+4
Level 60
Sep 24, 2016
But, it's spelt with only one t, not two.
+1
Level 19
Sep 25, 2016
Good Quiz!
+1
Level 70
Aug 29, 2017
Wasn't Baghdad the first city to reach 1 million?
+3
Level 66
Nov 23, 2017
Rome was, but that was long LONG before 1850.
+2
Level 45
Jan 22, 2018
I got hongchow and canton but yet somehow forgot london
+1
Level 34
Feb 28, 2019
Peking actually wasn't the name of Beijing in 1850. It was Qeicing. Or, at least, China, UK, France and most of Africa called it that...
+2
Level 49
Apr 10, 2019
Always Philadelphia...
+1
Level 20
Oct 25, 2019
Liverpool

Very Surprising

Allez Allez Allez

+4
Level 79
Mar 11, 2020
I live in Suzhou (Soochow)!
+2
Level 71
Mar 11, 2020
The source looks like it's down, maybe it's time to find a new one/find the archive for it?
+3
Level 71
Mar 23, 2021
Maybe the website closed down, the quiz was originally made in 2016
+1
Level 67
Jan 25, 2022
is this canton in ohio or in another country?
+3
Level 64
Mar 22, 2022
China I think (Now Guangzhou)
+1
Level 54
Jul 24, 2022
It's now called Guangzhou, it is in China.
+2
Level 81
Jul 25, 2022
I misread this comment and thought they were asking if there was an Ohio in another country
+1
Level 68
Jul 24, 2022
Needed a lot more thinking time. Why are so many quizzes on here so mean with time?
+1
Level 44
Jul 24, 2022
Constantinople has been called Istanbul since 1453, didn't get the need to call it Constantinople since the test is about the year 1850.
+1
Level 82
Jul 24, 2022
The name was officially changed in 1930. Not 1453.
+1
Level 78
Jul 27, 2022
Istanbul WAS Constantinople, but now it's Istanbul, NOT Constantinople.
+1
Level 78
Jul 27, 2022
I missed three but got in the 98th percentile... not sure whether to be proud or not.
+1
Level 67
Sep 22, 2022
Missed all the cities that end with "ow"...
+2
Level 71
Jan 5, 2023
Hangchow and Soochow are both essentially the same development as Shanghai - they are literally all right next to each other - not 100 or even dozens of miles apart. They are literally right next to each other.
+1
Level 65
Oct 29, 2023
how did i miss Berlin and Moscow??
+1
Level 43
May 29, 2024
Rome?